~ I never thought I could smile ear-to-ear while listening to the same annoying song for the umpteenth time, just because it made someone else ridiculously happy. Clapping hands and bounce-dancing happy.
~ I never thought I would have the chance to be a child again: building forts, sledding, hide-and-seek, building with blocks and giggling at silly jokes.
~ I never thought I would wish beyond anything that I was the one who was sick instead of someone else.
~ I never thought I would willingly and happily give a dessert I wanted to someone else to eat, just because watching them enjoy it would bring more joy than I would get from eating it myself.
~ I never thought I would instinctually put another person’s safety above my own. These little beings have altered my instinct of self-preservation such that my instincts are now to protect them first. I once tripped at the airport while carrying 3-year old Sunboy. In a split-second, I wrapped myself around him as I tumbled, buffering him from the fall while I hit squarely on my knee without bracing. He was fine but I limped for weeks. A profoundly revealing moment.
~ I never thought I would floss someone else’s teeth for them.
~ I never thought that my heart would expand such that it would no longer fully reside inside myself.
~ I never thought I would be the matriarch of a household, be the comfort that they will remember as adults. Now I try to cook “just like mom used to make” food, and generate the scents and sounds that will someday bring a subtle smile and faraway look, an internalized, sense of home.
~ I never thought I could be so strong, not for myself, but because someone else was watching me and learning from it.
~ I never thought that life would feel like timeless moments, dragging days and fleeting years.
So many things cannot be anticipated on the path of parenting. The road is continually new, with hills and curves that can’t be foreseen.
Childhood is only the first chapter of discovery. By the time we become parents we find there is still much to learn about ourselves as we give over to caretaking the most delightful, little people we will ever meet. Through the challenges of parenting that stretch our hearts in every which way, we find what is most surprising of all: that love can be deeper than we could have ever imagined. I never thought it until I experienced it myself.
Kat Lehmann believes we are all in the process of becoming and have a choice in what we become. She is a scientist who writes prose poetry about parenting and nature, and can be found sneaking outside to look at the moon when not keeping up with her children Sunboy and Flowergirl. You can connect with her at http://www.nurturingandnature.