Every person, no matter how unpleasant and unhappy, starts like this. Peaceful, in love, trusting.
Every person starts like this. Peaceful, in love, trusting.

There are days when someone feels down and they just don’t know why.

The black tights fresh out of the drawer have a tiny hole that will fester and grow as the day wears on. A kid at school is being a jerk. You just don’t get what you want, no matter how hard you ask.

My mother once said that a parent can only be as happy as her unhappiest child.

I’m seeing the phases of parenthood unfold before my eyes, and I am starting to understand.

When they are new, little, precious and helpless, it doesn’t take much to make them happy. A rub of the tummy, a pat on the back, a snuggle up against your chest, the beating heart inside you a reassurance.

Even when they start to move around and talk and toddle away from you, the falls aren’t so terrible. They tumble down on the carpet, even down a few steps, and cry, and you scoop them up and shush them and hold them close and all is well with the world.

My boys with Gigi, my grandmother, in our old house. See how precious and loving they are. And trusting.
My boys with Gigi, my grandmother, in our old house. See how precious and loving they are. And trusting.

And then they grow older. And taller. And more independent. And it’s no longer cool to call someone’s parents and have a “talk”.

So you sit on the sidelines and watch them feel bad, and get angry-frustrated-sad yourself because you are as helpless as they once were and there is nothing you can do to make it better.

Except tell them they are not alone in life, ever.

And that no matter how bad it gets, you will always be there with this infinite deep well of love to tell them how wonderful-special-incredible-gifted they are.

Although I have had many wonderful parts to my life, with I’m sure many more to come, becoming a mother gave my life purpose. You can argue with me until the cows come home, but it’s true.

Suddenly, there was more than another assignment, a dinner to host, a mile to run, a soup kitchen to serve at. There was this tiny being who had eyes only for me and the deepest trust, trust like I’d never before known, and that is a gift and a charge all at once.

You hold another person’s life in your hands when you become a parent.

I hope I have taught them to love and be loved...
I hope I have taught them to love and be loved…

If you turn away from them and shut them out, you teach them that the world is cold and hard and no one loves them, and they will grow into these cold, closed human beings who hurt others the way they have been hurt.

If you love them deeply and completely, and see all the good in them, they will turn to the world and see a beautiful place and shower it with the love bursting forth from their full, big hearts.

So you see, it’s a treacherous walk, this thing we call parenting.

It’s fleeting, but important, daring and dangerous. Perhaps the very most important job in the world, other than teaching.

On the day my first child was born, my father said, “As Grandpa Sid told me, now the hardest job of your life begins.”

And the most joyous. A double-edged sword, a double-sided gift.

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