i wonder what i thought my life was going to be like. i have tenuous recollections of dreams i cherished. most were of heedless freedom.

i was unsettled, ungrown, unprepared when i learned that i was going to be a parent. of all eventualities, that was the least obvious and least longed for. like a banana, i’m too easily bruised. bump me the wrong way with a thoughtless comment and i will turn to brown slop. such a soft, impractical fruit is ill-prepared for parenthood, but i was determined, sometimes too determined. not just to survive it, but to prove my own worth to myself through the ferocity of my love. forsooth, a hormone is a powerful and humbling animal.

stuff happened. terrible stuff. beautiful stuff. the same stuff that happens to parents everywhere in varying quantities. my baby turned out to be twins, so twice as much stuff overall. i remember a thousand firsts. i remember losing a lot. i remember winning exponentially more.

i stood, sentinel, between the sharp edges of the world and my children for nineteen years. i felt at the time that i was shaping them. in retrospect, i see that they are the same today as they were the day i met them and i was protecting them, sometimes bending them, never really changing them. they are quiet, wry, stubborn, sparkling people who still write unapologetically on the walls in permanent marker and still cut their own hair if you don’t keep track of the scissors. they’re still going off on adventures, coming home with scrapes and purple blotches, heedless of the physical pains of the world as long as there was fun in service to their scars. they’re still squashy bananas when the world is careless or mean. it might be the only thing we have in common, besides history.

eight months ago, they stepped boldly, fearlessly to the lip of the nest and flew. i was proud of them, excited for them. i was also ready to rest. i was unprepared for the shock of purposelessness and grief. i feel as unsettled and unprepared to have them gone as i felt before they arrived. it took me no time at all to learn to be fierce and righteously devoted to two small pink persons, but i’m still learning to be the same for myself. it is dauntingly harder.

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