How will you go about finding that thing, the nature of which is totally unknown to you?
I’m seeing this quote pop up on Facebook quite a bit lately (which means there’s probably a pop culture reference to somewhere that I’m blissfully unaware of), and it pains me to admit that it has done its job. It got me thinking.
Specifically, there is absolutely no way to understand beforehand what becoming a parent is going to do to you.
I heard everyone’s warnings of how, “things are going to change,” and that, “life will be totally different,” and, “you’ll see the world with new eyes!” But, as I said quite some time ago, these don’t really help a papa-in-potentia understand how he’s going to change. Or what exactly he’s changing into. And these are scary things.
People say there’s a reprioritization that happens, which is true. But that makes it sound like a new project came up at work or there’s a bunch of things you want to get done over the weekend… Not the shakabuku that happens when you become a mom or dad.
They also say you start to care about something more than you do yourself. Also true. But I find myself wanting to take better care of me, if only so I’m at my best when I’m with her. (And so I get to spend more time with her on the back-end of my life.)
There are countless platitudes that try to describe what transitioning into a parent feels like, and none of them seem to quite get it right.
I think the best way I can describe it so far (and I’m certain this will change as she gets older), is that a singular point of immense gravity has been introduced into my life. A point that my existence now orbits around. Every decision I make is affected by my relationship to it. I cannot stray far from this point, or for very long, without feeling an intense drawing back toward it. And the times when I’m farthest away I feel colder and somehow more alone than I did before.
Anyway, despite my adherence to the adage that, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” I realize there comes a moment where all this becomes just mental acrobatics.
You know, like when you start comparing your offspring to a star.
Basically what I’m saying is that I’ve had about 6 months of steady cogitation on this topic, and I still don’t have a concrete response to the question of what becoming a parent has done to me. Which leads me to believe that there simply isn’t an answer; it’s entirely subjective.
That sounds like a cop-out, doesn’t it?
I guess if I were trying to reassure myself, I’d say there’s no other way to get into parenting than to just relax and trust your instincts. (Which I believe function as unlearned memories.)
Because in doing so we have no choice but to get out of our own way, which makes finding the things that we’re meant to be, easy.
The nature of which we’ll know when we get there.