I I I I I I I  

Howís this for a true tale of Halloween horror: a couple of days ago, I was walking to my car in the grocery storeís lot and musing about the cute bagboy, who I swear was flirting with me. I thought to myself, ďOf course he was. I donít look too bad for a woman who has two children.Ē Holy crap. I have two children. I nearly gave out a blood-curling shriek right there.

I donít know how this happened. I mean, I know the biology of how it happened, since I had both high school health and access to HBO. What flummoxes me is the sheer fact of the two kids, that when I get home, theyíll be there. Waiting. Staring at me like I was their mother or something. Itís freaky.

I canít feign ignorance with regard to the existence of my babies. I was, after all, there for their births. I remember the pain and the pushing and the poo as if it were yesterday. Pictures, three-plus yearsí worth that still have yet to be sorted and put in albums, prove that they have been mine for a while now. Their stuff is scattered all over my house. The older one keeps her teddy bears in my pantry. The younger one has stained my couch. Physically, there is no denying the evidence. Still. The simple concept of ďI have two childrenĒ is one that makes my brain lock up, like an engine without oil. I have two children. I can barely even type it without feeling all wobbly and squicked.

I just donít feel like someoneís mom. Mothers are my motherís age. Mothers wear aprons and look like June Cleaver and know how to darn socks and dust and whiten whites. Mothers always know whatís best. Mothers have snacks waiting after-school and arrange piano lessons and play dates. I am not a mother. Hell, I donít even have a piano. But the simple fact remains: I have two children. Perhaps its so hard to own my momness because I donít feel that I have really changed all that much even though there is overwhelming contrary evidence. I donít feel that much older, not really. Despite my ever-increasing crop of gray hair, I still listen to the Ramones and Elvis Costello. But Iím not stuck in a time warp, where itís always the early 80s. I know who the kids are digging these days. Pop culture has not passed me by.

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The only hint of my increasing momitude is proven above. Everyone under the age of 27 has become a kid to me. My college students look like embryos and act like hooligans, what with all of the drinking and sex. I donít get the appeal of week-long hang-overs or Paris Hilton or tanning salons. Some of them were born the year that I started high school. Most canít remember a time when there wasnít a Bush in the White House. Thatís if they pay attention to politics at all. Which they donít. Because most of them werenít old enough to vote in the last election.

Despite that, I donít feel old, even though Iíve passed 30, a milestone that felt like a road block ten years ago. By now, I expected to know how the world works, to be passed the point where I felt like I was just faking it until I knew what I was doing. The people I looked up to when I was in my 20s Ė the ones who acted as mentors and sages Ė were the age I am now. How terrifying is that? I trusted these wise folks to know everything but I can now see that they had the same base of knowledge that I currently do. And I, even on my best days, wonder if I should be allowed out in public, much less in charge of anything, including the two small people who sleep at my house. I have two children. I am a mom twice over.

When I look in the mirror, I donít see that. When I think about myself, I think about college and Austin and awkward teen years. The kids just start to crawl in during the last bit of what my life has been to this point. Which isnít to say that I donít find them delightful (most of the time) nor that I want to get rid of them (again, most of the time), just that they occupy such a small part of my institutional memory at this point that I forget that theyíre there. Yet they are how most outsiders would define me. ďOh,Ē they think, ďshe has two kids.Ē

Itís how I defined mamas before I became one. I couldnít see how they had rich inner lives, too, and are more than schleppers of the small set. Yet we are so much more. Still, I get hung up when I think about how surreal the having-two-kids can feel. Yesterday I was swoony over Duran Duran. Today I know the names of all four Wiggles. Tomorrow Iíll know where my local Red Hat Society holds its monthly meetings. My heart just skipped a terrified beat.

I have two children and canít even remember my phone number most days. I am in charge. I make decisions about big life issues, yet canít decide between brands of tomato sauce. This sends more chills up my spine than any mere Halloween ghoulie. Pay no attention to the ear-splitting screams.
About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, and wife to Scott.


I I I I I I I  

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