You would think being pregnant, giving birth, and raising a child for the past two years would solidify my awareness of being a parent. But it hasn’t.
Taking care of this little human has become so routine, that it’s easy to get lost in the patterns and the to-do’s of the everyday. Now, I know what other parents mean when they say you blink and its gone. Because as a parent, you get so caught up in being behind the scenes, that before you know it, the show is over. And somehow, you’ve forgotten to stop what you were doing, and watch the performance.
But every now and then, when I am hanging out with old friends or reminded of memories from the days before marriage and children, I have the earth shattering epiphany of, “I’m a parent.” It’s NOT just me, my life, my needs and my wants. I am responsible for another life. This realization isn’t coming from a place of neglect for my child, it is more or less a realization of how far I’ve come from being a child myself.
Parenting isn’t just a full-time commitment to accountability and responsibility, it is the benchmark of all benchmarks in the passage of time: Having a child makes you feel old. And watching your child get older–it makes you feel really old. Parenting has a way of highlighting the aging process like nothing else. And then, when you add a second one to the mix? *Gulp.* It’s the trifecta of magnifying where you fall on the old geezer scale.
I read this fascinating piece by Dr. Jessica Zucker, “I Was Pregnant for Over a Year,” where she says, “having a second child signified committing to adulthood even more so than I already had. Not that I fancied myself a kid by any means, but somehow I was staving off the next phase of my development by foreclosing on the idea of engaging in motherhood a second time around. It meant growing up a little more. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that…” That’s kind of how I am feeling right now, or how I felt when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I am absolutely neck deep in the commitment of adulthood and child rearing.
Do I miss the carefree life of the single girl or the newly married couple? Yes. But you can’t really compare the two parts (life before kids vs life with kids) equally. Having a child is fulfilling, but in a different way. Not in a superior kind of way. In a way I can’t verbalize.
My son has made me see the world in a color I never knew to be possible. It’s like I have eaten the fruit from the tree, and a layer of insight about who I am and the world we live in has been added to my levels of understanding. Plus, one of the best parts about being a parent is watching your child evolve into their own person. My son is carrying on conversations with me. He is asking questions about the world around him. We are finding out who he is together; and it is the most astonishing thing to witness.
To him, the world is one big place for him to explore: There are so many things he will learn, see, discover, and I get to partially witness him experiencing it. It’s a bit like watching someone read your favorite novel for the first time. You’ve already read it, so the spell has been cast. But then when you see someone else succumbing to the same spell…well, how do you put that experience into words? How do you translate the significance of its meaning?
I wish I knew how magical the world really was when I first started learning all about it. Just the act of acquiring knowledge through lesson plans,teachers and universities… We are so blessed to be able to know anything we want to know in the snap of a finger. Imagine all that he will/could learn as we/he become(s) more advanced?! I digress. My enthusiasm has carried me away.
The point is having a kid is unbelievably exhausting, terrifying, and rewarding all at the same time, in so many ways. For those of whom who never had, couldn’t have, or maybe never wanted to have kids, I don’t mean to imply having kids is the only way to gain a deeper insight into the world. I’m just saying my experience has allowed me to.
My son does this thing where he takes my hand and says, “Come on, mommy. I show you.” Then he leads me to whatever it is that he wants to show me. But what he doesn’t realize is that he has shown me way more than I could have ever shown him. And every time he says it. I can’t help but marvel at the depth of what this simple sentence means.
Having a child has completely changed my perspective on the world. Having a second one? What more will it change? My universe? Is there more for me to discover and learn with a second helping of child rearing? I don’t know. But In 3 months, I’m about to find out.