I spend a lot of time griping about parenting. Mostly because by the end of each day, I feel like I’ve just gone another 15 rounds with a two-headed heavyweight with little regard for the below-the-belt rule. And the rematch has already been scheduled for tomorrow.
One of the hardest things about parenting is always having to be “on.” Like teaching, the second those kids sense you wavering or backtracking or just plain capitulating, they pounce. You can give your kids time outs, yet you never seem to get one for yourself.
But I’m not here to gripe this time. Parenting is a tough, largely thankless job, but with just a big enough smattering of incredibly beautiful moments to keep us going. These are some of those moments:
- No-nap time. I was (and still am) adamant about our kids sharing a room. Though my database doesn’t extend much beyond my brother and I, I think the kind of bond that is formed by sharing space is priceless. It was tough at first, negotiating nap schedules and so forth, but now they are more or less on the same afternoon naptime. Just before I wrote this, I was listening at the door to Bub regaling HP with tales of going to Target and driving and trains and bankies and whatever else was running through his brain. And she was giggling up every second of it. When I finally walked in, he was out of bed, standing at her crib, practicing high fives. Pretty tough to get mad at that scene.
- Shoulder pillow. The kids have both had a history of falling asleep in the car, but they usually rouse pretty quickly when engine shuts off. Yesterday, though, I took Bub out of his car seat, picked him up, and put his head on my shoulder with nary a peep. He was fully conked out, a drooly sack of potatoes on my shoulder. Though it wasn’t more than 50 feet to the house, I enjoyed every step.
- That smile. You know the one. The one that doesn’t last much probably past the age of one. The one HP gives me first thing in the morning, or after a nap or just an extended time period (in her mind) of not seeing me. It is genuine bliss. Such a simple thing, yet it feels so good.
- Hold my hand, Daddy? Bub is almost 3 now. A big boy. He doesn’t need to hold anyone’s hand, unless we happen to find ourselves on severely uneven terrain. So when he asks now, it’s not out of fear or insecurity—he truly wants to. The best is when he asks my wife to hold his other hand. Everybody wins.
- Safety in yogurt. HP tried vanilla yogurt for the first time yesterday. And I mean the good stuff–cream top, super fatty, delicious. Her face immediately lit all the way up to euphoria in less than a second. She started grunting and reaching and chomping and gnashing. I mean, maybe someday she’ll find a partner that will make her this deliriously happy, but I’ll take the cream top for now. To the best of my knowledge, yogurt never broke any hearts. Never stopped texting or said “it’s not you, it’s me.” Yogurt is kind, yogurt is always there. Yogurt is a reliable go-to.
These are the moments that make the climb into that squared circle day after day more than worthwhile. Like parental adrenaline, these are the jolts that give you enough to get through. What are some of yours?