Saving the World: Finding Myself

I just finished reading "Saving the World" by Julia Alvarez. It was a well-written and interesting book. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the 1800s heroine, Isabel, and the modern-day heroine, Alma.

A book review is not what this blog post is about, however. At the end of the novel I found myself bawling. I won't go into the details of the plot because I don't want to ruin anything for the would-be reader, but suffice to say, something sad happens.

Although the subject matter was sad, I couldn't figure out why I was crying like a baby. And then it hit me - this has been happening A LOT lately. I've been crying about things that I never would have cried over in the past.

I'm not feeling sad right now. I'm not feeling depressed right now. But I am feeling different.

During our college years, my best friend and I used to talk about how lucky we were that in spite of a few majors hiccups in our lives, we'd never had a bring-you-to-your-knees, uncontrollable-weeping experience. And believe me, there have been several instances in my life that would have qualified as such, but I never found myself actually doing the bawling. Crying? Yes. Gut wrenching hurt in the depths of my soul so that I truly felt like life couldn't go on? Never.

And then I had kids. Two beautiful, stubborn, hilarious, amazing kids. The day my first son came swimming out of me, my heart followed right along with him. Instead of being stashed safely away inside the confines of my chest, my heart found its way out into the light of day. The result? I feel everything more deeply. My pulse beats a little closer to the surface now.

It sounds cliche, but becoming a mother made me more alive. Experiencing life (both the good and the bad) through these eyes:

as well as my own, has made everything so much brighter and sadder and richer.

Don't get me wrong, it's not the greatest thing when I find myself tearing up at something as cheesy as "I can be your hero, baby" by Enrique Iglesias. No joke, it happened one day in my car. I looked around to make sure no one else was in the car to make fun me and then switched the radio station as fast as I could.

But on the flip-side, when I find myself tearing up while decorating the Christmas tree, I'm okay with that. One of my happiest memories of the 2008? Sitting on the couch with both of my kiddos while we watched my husband hang the bow on the top of our tree. It was warm; it was exciting because my kids knew Santa Claus was coming. It was, in its own small way, the finding of myself.

I waited for 30 years of my life, knowing that I wanted to be a mother. And when I became one, everything else fell into place. The joy that I felt sitting on the couch, ushering these two little guys into a quiet Christmas eve, was overwhelming.

And now, everything is different. My hearts sits in the palm of my hand for everyone to see. I have to protect it more fiercely now, but I also open it more freely. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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