Friday, January 23, 2009

Object lesson

There are those moments in every parent's life when it dawns on you that you would do anything, ANYTHING, for your child. You already knew that intellectually, of course. You tell yourself that you would stay up all night, step in front of a bus, beat someone up. But then it actually happens, and you're like, "Wow. I did...that."

Picture Sam and me on a foggy Friday at lunchtime. It doesn't particularly matter how we got there, but there we were - the public restroom at a local restaurant. Sam had decided he needed to poop (unusual for him in an unfamiliar place), and had subsequently requested, as usual, that I remove all of his clothes. So, he's naked. And the poop is half in, half out, and not going anywhere. And he's looking at me and crying. Not whining crying, but honest-to-goodness I'm-in-pain-mama, big, fat tears. My poor, poor baby. So without hesitation I...assisted the delivery. And then washed my hands like they had the devil himself on them.

The funny thing is that I was having lunch there with a friend, and she had just been telling me about doubts she had about whether she'd be a good parent or not. I told her that when you have your own kids, it constantly surprises you what you're willing to do and the reserves of patience, humility and creativity that you discover within yourself. Smart, self-satisfied me. Little did I know that I'd be getting a very yucky object lesson in this within the next 10 minutes.

But it got me thinking about all the ways that motherhood has changed me. It's not just what you do for your kids, it's how you feel while doing those things. I am definitely not a spit person - I gag at the sight of other peoples, and sometimes my own - yet wiping up baby drool is a non-issue. I love my sleep, and for two years I got up at least every 3-4 hours to tend to Sam, and I freely signed up to do it again with another one. I heard someone say once that getting through a tough developmental milestone with your child is a great bonding experience. But the every day stuff - that's where the refining fire truly is. Singing that song one more time even though it makes you crazy, cutting the peels off the apples even though the peeler slips and cuts your finger, doing for someone else at your own expense and inconvenience, all of that makes us better people and shows us the deep rewards of doing for others through the infinite love that our kids give back to us. And if we lucky, we bring that to our relationship with our spouse, our parents, our friends, and our community. Parenthood is indeed the best medicine.


154310 said...

Love this post, kate. Parenthood IS truly amazing. Rob's a huge gagger when it comes to poop, and he gave Alec the same type of "assistance" without batting an eye.

Amy said...

This is beautiful. Thanks for posting.