By Emily Harrington
Last year’s Illini tailgates had a completely different look and feel to what they do this season. Last year, libations would be poured, a few expletives shared—things could get a little rowdy. You wouldn’t think twice about having a 9 a.m. cocktail in preparation for an 11 a.m. game.
In 2012—things are different. We participated in our first official tailgate of the season last weekend with both friends and family. It was the first time in a long while where our friends and family were all together in one place. I was taken aback by the replacement of strollers for coolers, bottles for beer cans and nap time for game time. We use to push coolers from tailgate to tailgate, and now we are pushing strollers!
Like it or not times are changing. We’re growing up. It was a reality check to see the drastic way all of our lives have changed over the past year.
Even the content of our conversations have changed. We once talked about playful subjects for hours: shopping, significant others and work. Now, the common questions are related to a baby’s sleeping patterns, food consumption and weight/height percentiles.
It’s so interesting to reflect on how far we’ve all come. The men we’ve married, the careers we’ve ended up with or quit and the babies we’ve created and are subsequently raising.
So much can happen in a year. In 365 days my girlfriends have morphed into moms.
At the tailgate one said, “My days have never been so fulfilling since I had a baby.”
Another said, “You will never love something so much as you do your baby.”
One exclaimed, “I can’t wait to have another!”
Priorities have shifted. Each of these women have changed for the better.
They are more flexible. If baby can’t sleep or won’t drink breast milk, they try something else, they adapt.
They are selfless. They used to be worried about what to wear to that reunion or wedding, now they are worried about what their child has to wear this fall or if they have a winter coat.
They are intuitive. These moms can decipher the shrill, sharp cry from the low, bellow-type of cry, one means she needs changed while the other means she needs fed or has an upset stomach.
They are caring. You can tell these women want their child to be happy. Whatever it takes, they will make it happen at the sake of their own time or sanity.
They’ve become better people, and, in turn amazing moms.
It made me feel a little selfish, a little wrapped up in my own world listening to them talk— I’m still focused on work, what my husband and I are doing this weekend or the latest Anthropologie sale.
It’s hard to imagine the complete change you undergo as a person when you give birth. A switch seems to flip and you are better for it.
These moms have something bigger than themselves to care for—to raise. It’s inspiring.
I’m lucky to have a group of moms to lean on, answer questions and commiserate with when our time comes.
Emily Harrington is a 29-year-old townie on the cusp of full blown adulthood. She’s a wife still in the honeymoon stage and a mom of a borderline psychotic mini-Australian Shepherd. She has a full-time job in communications/marketing and a full-time life outside of work.