Inevitably heartbreaking selflessness and other parenting ailments.
Parenting will soften even the hardest among us. To care for a child is to pour all of your love into a very fragile vessel and then set it adrift at sea. Parenting won’t make you wiser or stronger but it will make you lay your heart vulnerable to the world in a way that is often out of your control. There is, I suppose a certain wisdom and strength the be gained from this but mostly it just turns us into blubbering weenies.
My wife used to love horror movies but motherhood took that too. Now it’s just Pixar, rom-coms and the occasional Dwayne Johnson action flick for us. If I want to see a group of innocent teenagers get slaughtered at summer camp, I have to stay up by myself. Which I can’t because I now have a self imposed bed time.
Before kids, more than anything in the world, I wanted to go skydiving. That idea now just seems completely ludicrous. These days I actually hold the hand rail when I walk down steps.
Sometimes I will think of my kids going out into the world and I will imagine fake people doing fake cruel things to them. I will them think of how it will be up to them to handle themselves and prevail in this cold and heartless world, filled with imaginary villains and I will tear up to myself as I ignore the horror movie that I’m trying to watch at one in the morning. Then when the good parts in the horror movie come on I can’t even appreciate it because my only thought is that these kids are really not mature enough to be without adult supervision.
I used to be punk rock. Or at least I thought I was.
My oldest son is ten years old and occasionally I still poke my head into his room at night and make sure he’s still breathing. I think recreational skydiving is crazy yet I’m night stalking my children.
What’s truly exhausting about parenting isn’t the job of raising kids. It’s not the making them do their chores or the breaking up of fights or any other functional duty associated with child-rearing. It’s the loving them so much that you can’t ever get a full breath in without thinking about it.
When you submit to the selflessness required for the job of parenting you yield all control and are suddenly at the mercy of circumstance. There is great power in this, just not one that you may wield. To love selflessly is, I imagine, very much like skydiving. Once you make the leap there is no turning back. All we can do is pray that the wind is favorable and that the damn parachute opens like it’s supposed to.