To the outsider, it looks like a job: Be a parent. But, from the inside, the highs and lows are epic.
Parenthood, at its core, is feast or famine. I have come to deeply appreciate – and suffer through – this truth in recent days.
On Friday morning, the stage was set (quite literally). My son’s first play.
[Insert American Thanksgiving icons here]
His role was Squanto. And from the center of the audience seating, I held the quintessential black camcorder in the air for at least 10 straight minutes.
(This is why parents go to the gym, right?)
When his cue was signaled, I watched with anticipation as he gracefully delivered the two lines we have rehearsed for the last month.
“Were you nervous?” I remember asking him following the performance.
“No, I was excited!”
Pride and the deepest parental emotions I have experienced yet swelled within my heart. Somehow I made room for the potluck feast that followed.
But, then, Saturday.
Still high from my son’s play, I met my morning running goal. But my reward wasn’t at all what I expected.
My two-year-old’s eyes were inflamed. Her left ear was throbbing with pain. Her bottom lip, swollen. And that precious free weekend day that I had envisioned as productive was instantly rewritten.
So we packed a makeshift lunch and a pile of books and headed off for urgent care.
I entered the new-to-us facility with a sigh. The receptionist greeted me with a knowing “I get it”.
Still, we pressed on for the next hour, which involved numerous seating changes, board book fails, and incoherent toddler explanations on the meaning of life. But, then, epiphany.
Lunch! I had packed a last-minute lunch.
Immediately, I dug into the endless diaper bag abyss to recover a misshapen sandwich and apple slices.
And, just like that, our doctor’s office picnic quieted the doubts.
In that moment, I remembered that what we all want – parents and non-parents alike – is the same: to know that our love made a difference.
And I think that life is nothing more than trying to survive the conditions just long enough to find that all that investing wasn’t just changing their lives.
It was changing ours.
One Year Ago: Meeting the Deplorable
Two Years Ago: Boots on the Ground