One of my favorite Nora Ephron moments was a graduation speech she offered the 1996 class of her alma mater, Wellesley College:
"We have a game we play when we're waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was your age, I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won't make the list in ten years -- not that you still won't be some of those things, but they won't be the five most important things about you. Which is one of the most delicious things available to women, and more particularly to women than to men. I think. It's slightly easier for us to shift, to change our minds, to take another path."
Nora, like she often did, got me thinking. What are my "five?" How do I define myself? When I graduated college, I think my words would have been: student, daughter, small-town girl, girlfriend, dreamer. Now, I'm not sure. Mother, wife, teacher, hopeful, traveler? It is interesting how so many of my words (and hers) are connected to our relationships.
One year ago, I could not have predicted how much my daughter would change my life. Now "mother" is first on the list. Yes, everyone will tell you clichés about the power of parenthood, but no one can fully realize this until you've met your child, your little life-changer.
This year of mothering has revealed how love can sustain me in life's valleys. It has shown me just how much my husband adores his girls. It has helped me to realize that all of those clichés are completely and utterly true. It does go so fast. It is amazing how deeply we love our children. I would do anything for her.
So, Nora, if you're listening up there, thank you. Thank you for giving us the gift of laughing until we cry and crying until we laugh, for cinematic magic, for characters who always live in our hearts. Thank you for writing words that say exactly what so many of us feel and reminding us women that it is okay to change paths. Thank you.