I’ve Become My Own Worst Nightmare
My mother was right. About everything. And if you ever tell her I said that, I may have to kill you.
I wasn’t always the upstanding, hard-working, settled-down, home-owning, pinnacle of the American dream that I am today. And yet, that’s exactly what my mother predicted, even as I was sneaking out all night, smoking, throwing parties, and piercing body parts that aren’t easily visible in everyday clothing.
My rebellion started after my mom sent my brother to live with our dad and forced him to relinquish his troublemaker badge of honor. I picked it up, dusted it off, and gave it the best run ever. I was rebelling against everything I found to be mainstream: office jobs, pearls, kids, marriage, and any other kind of socially-accepted lifestyle. Worst of all, I’m pretty sure I permanently corrupted my younger brother.
My mother has one small tattoo on her hip. I went levels beyond. Today, everyone can see my rebellion plastered right there on my forearm. And my back. And my hips. And my thigh. Never did I contemplate how looking like I belonged on the back of a motorcycle would affect job prospects, social interaction, or even the person I ended up marrying.
I stopped caring about school. Not to the point of complete and utter failure, but just enough so that the assistant principal was on a first-name basis with Mom. I still had plans to attend college, but never once thought beyond the typical in-state arts college.
Children were out of the picture. Marriage, a dream that belonged on afternoon sitcoms or bridal magazines.
I was living my life as though the story that had no ending. No regrets, no consequences, and no clue.
My mother always told me that I was going to change my mind. She assured me in that tone that makes teenage eyes do backflips inside their sockets. After I got my first tattoo, Mom’s only concern was how I got my fake ID. After my fourth, her concern switched to how I was ever going to find a job outside of food service or car repair. She informed me that no matter what my current stance on children, four million years of biology was always going to win. She supported me thoroughly in my dream of being a roadie, even buying me my first tool set. But she was always sure to remind me pointedly that one day I was going to crave stability and the opportunity to “nest.”
Whenever she said that, I could only laugh.
But then, somewhere in my mid-20s came a horrendous realization. I had changed my mind.
I realized that living out of a suitcase was getting old. Every once in a while, I would look at my tattoos when I was dressed up for a night out and wish they weren’t there. I found myself craving a partner to spend my life with. My biological clock started ticking so loudly, I swear it caused that permanent ringing in my ears.
It was time to make a change. It was time to make all the changes.
I started with the job. I moved to a new city and got an office job with a desk, a phone, and no need to carry my own tool set with me. And I loved it. Shortly after that, I met someone. We’ve been together for over two years and just bought our first house together. We have a dog, a snake, and a fish. We are planning on getting married, and–gasp–we want children.
I recently found myself on a shopping excursion for a set of bar stools. By the time I got to the Target check-out line, I realized that I had picked out a shabby-chic wine rack, the perfect set of sheets for my antique-themed guest bedroom, a perfectly art-nouveau fireplace screen (that matched the wine rack), and a new Christmas ornament for my tree.
I was nesting. It hit me like a herd of elephants surfing in on the back of a blue whale.
I was turning into every single thing I had once held in such contempt. And yet, I’ve never been happier.
When I look back and compare what I thought my life was going to be with what it is today, I can only laugh. And I finally have to admit to myself that my mother does know more about life than my teenage self gave her credit for. She always knew that I’d have the normal family life, even if my version of “normal” encompasses tattoos and a pet snake. She knew that I’d succumb to four million years of biological programming to make a tribe. And by God, she knew I’d eventually forge my own path towards normalcy.
My mother’s the smartest woman I know. I’m sure she remembers those bygone years and the predictions she made over a decade ago.
And she is smart enough to never have said “I told you so.”