Sometimes it is small. Like when she falls and cries, or even the times she falls and gets right back up. The almighty instinct to absorb her pain kicks in, or in the other case, it’s awe and astonishment. Pride. Swelling heart.
Other times the feelings are internalized, mixed and difficult for even the other parent to fully understand. It happened when I realized she suddenly learned to count to ten correctly (when did that happen?), or watching her gently pet our sick and dying dog with such kind and curious intent.
Lately it has been shameful and helpless. The heartache. Why is she behind others when it comes to vocabulary, comprehension, enunciation? How did we backslide in swim class to the point that she can’t make it 30 minutes without bawling and breaking down? And these two words: potty training.
Then there is the shared sentiment that plagues a generation. What kind of world will she inherit? Environment, society, global community. Can I protect her from the monsters both metaphysical and real? Oh, and the cost of college. Ugh. HeartBURN.
Finally is the sorrow of want. Things out of my control, or that I should have harnessed but didn’t. I wish I made more money for her, had a shorter commute to work for her, could provide her with a sibling, or simply put down the damn phone when she was dancing to the opening theme of “Superstore” last night. Instead of savoring that moment, I was deleting junk mail or reading a “Top ten secrets about broccoli” list. And none of those secrets pertained to getting my kid to eat vegetables, so…
Parenting is a great joy. Like falling in love every day of the year. And sometimes… parenting is just a series of heartbreaks: big, small, meaningful and fleeting. Worth it? Every single one.
*Photos by Kellie O’Donnell