July 25, 2011

The Secret Life of the American Parent.

First off, let me say we hoped for you. We prayed for you. And when we knew you were coming, we rubbed the buddha belly, felt you kick and imagined what you would look like. Some of us went to great lengths to have you, had surrogates, or adopted.  We were also scared. A couple of kids, at any age…what did we know about parenting?

Then you were here. A small thing, with a red face and star-fish hands. So peaceful. Until about week three, when you became very angry that your womb was gone. We stayed up every night, rocking and consoling you, helpless to ease your suffering, helpless to ease our own suffering.

But then you grew. You recognized mama and papa. You started to recognize your family and comfort.

Still, you grow. You start talking, walking, developing independence. You become a person.

And we watch you. Not with a little hope, or sadness for what we have left behind, our own independence, so gladly sacrificed for yours.  But we also realize that we are part of a tribe, a community of mothers and fathers that have gone before, and will come after.

You are so brave, and so innocent. Would that we could be more like you. But instead we weather every horrible news story about tragic events as though it happened to our own. We become part of a global tragedy, and also, its beauty. The world’s children are our own, seen through your eyes.

When you are small, we wish for deliverance. A fleeting love, behind locked doors, the endless need for food, the sleepless nights.  But when you outgrow our surveillance, how we worry, fret…need you…miss you. How empty life is without you. You go to camp, to college, and though we know you are safe, how empty this house feels without you. How we worry that we raised you to be right, to be safe.

It is all there to be found, this relationship between parent and child. We understand our own parents through you, the love, and the loss. The tragic and the beautiful. What joy and sorrow you bring to our lives. And you will not understand us, you will not, until you become parents yourselves.

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