In 1998, Madonna released her album Ray of Light. To date, it is the only Madonna album that I own in its entirety. She’s had songs here and there that I’ve liked and burned onto CDs or transferred to my iPod, but the Ray of Light album is the only complete work by her that I own and listen to from start to finish. Upon release, she received critical acclaim for experimenting with techno and electronica sounds for production, which was a departure from her previous compositions. Her voice was praised as being fuller, smoother, and more powerful on the album, which may have had something to do with her vocal work on the film Evita leading up to Ray of Light’s production. Madonna cites the birth of her first child, daughter Lourdes, as inspiration for much of Ray of Light’s content.
As I move through this new chapter of my life, living in a new place, putting together a new life with my new(ish) family, I find myself reflecting on an album I’ve loved for over 16 years in a completely different way. Similar to how Madonna’s daughter served as inspiration for her newest album at the time, I’m realizing just how great of an impact my own daughter’s presence has on my life.
I feel myself changing as a person through being her mom. This has been happening since the moment I saw two pink lines on my pregnancy test, but it’s become more tangible since her birth and through her growth. There’s a lot that I used to care about that I don’t anymore, but by the same token, there is so much that I never used to think about that suddenly fills my mind now. It’s the typical stuff, like where she’ll go to school, which doctor’s office I will choose, how old she will be when she can date, etc. It’s also some of the more obscure stuff, like whether or not I’m living my life in a way she can be proud of, the type of tone I’m setting for the home I want to raise her in, whether or not she will be an only child, or become a big sister someday.
Through trying to assemble a lifestyle that I feel is conducive to “good motherhood,” I’ve enrolled in graduate school for a second advanced degree, my husband and I have discussed business ownership, I’ve devoted serious time to authoring my book, I’ve scoured the internet for creative ways to make old traditions fun and unique for her, oh, and I’ve relocated the lives of my entire family from one side of the country to the other.
She’s growing up so quickly – in the blink of an eye or “quicker than a ray of light,” she’s gone from newborn to toddler, and no matter how many pictures I take, or evenings spent rocking in the chair, it’s all come and gone too fast for my liking. Along the way, I’ve tried to be the best I could be to her, whether that was acting guardian who made decisions at the doctor’s office, or best companion and caregiver when she was sick, best teacher to show her which blocks fit into which holes on her Fisher Price box, and best provider (I can’t take credit for that alone) to make sure she has everything she needs to live a comfortable and healthy life. No matter what strides I take, I always find her development as a challenge for me to do more. In some ways, it’s a never-ending race toward impossible perfection. In other ways, I see it as a reminder of accountability to do better and to be better. Though I’m still adjusting to this new part of my life, her influence gives me focus to keep striving for things I was too lazy for two years ago.