This is an older piece from the early days ............
When was it that I officially became a parent?
Was it when I adopted my first daughter?
Was it when I gave birth to my second daughter?
Or was it when I licked my finger and rubbed smeared banana off my then seven-year-old daughter’s chin?
What about the time I used my pinky finger to dislodge a booger dangling from my infant daughter’s nostril?
Did parenthood claim me that Saturday morning I found myself in the dressing room at a department store, sitting on the bench as the official coat hanger, taking the clothes off the hangers and re-hanging them for my nine-year-old to have a mini fashion show in the changing room?
Or was it when my newborn needed a diaper change while I was enjoying a candy bar - so I set the candy bar beside the changing table, changed the offensive diaper and resumed eating the chocolate chunky bar immediately afterwards?
Maybe my official title of parent was earned when I realized that I was reading the Berenstain Bears more than I was reading the local newspaper.
Or was it when I recognized that I was continually referring to myself in third person - "Mommy is going to change your diaper now." "Mommy loves you." "Mommy would like paper bags instead of plastic, thank you."
Maybe I earned my parental status when I had an extended conversation about Barbie’s job and her future plans. Would she rather be a doctor or a teacher?
Or was it when I found myself explaining why it wasn’t a good idea to wear white shoes in the winter even if they were shiny with pointy toes that made you look like a fairy princess?
I could claim the day when I discovered I had been reading the entire novel To Kill a Mockingbird in a high falsetto so my daughter would smile as I read.
Or was it an evening a few weeks ago - there I was, sitting in front of the television . . . sewing. Sewing! Well, okay, my daughter’s quilt had several holes in it and I was looping mismatched thread over and over to try to salvage the blanket for a few more nighttimes. Isn’t anything using needle and thread considered sewing anyway?
How about when I was up at midnight decorating cupcakes with tiny number nines for every child in Riley’s second grade class?
Perhaps my real badge of parenting is delivered every time I just go ahead and leave the door to the bathroom open because I know my daughter will walk in anyway.
Or what about the fact that every movie I watch now, aside from cartoons, has to be viewed well after 9 p.m.?
Maybe my new style of television watching altogether reveals my parental traits - remote control in hand, ready to aim and fire whenever a risque commercial or an inappropriate scene appears on the screen. (Which is about constantly these days, but I’ll save that ranting for another column.)
Or how about my new showering schedule - only at nights or during random nap times during the day?
Could it have been the final straw - the one that just happened yesterday? While feeding my infant daughter, her diaper leaked through her clothes and onto the sheets of my bed. It couldn’t have been more than a quarter-sized amount - well, maybe two quarters, but definitely not any larger than a baseball. I changed the diaper but then the day’s distractions hit hard. I forgot about the stain until bedtime - late night. I looked at the small mark. I knew what needed to be done. I looked at my alarm clock. I took a clean burp cloth, one was conveniently lying beside my pillow - I knew what needed to be done. I carefully placed the cloth over the stain, turned out the lights and climbed into bed.
Good night, I thought to myself. It’s official - I am a parent now.