Ruminations on Being a Parent

Twenty-five years ago I stood on the rocky coast of Maine, lost in the rhythm of waves crashing along the shoreline and contemplating the imminent birth of my first child.

I could not have imagined that this day would arrive in the blink of a cosmic eye.

My pregnancy had been filled with thrilling, scary, idealistic anticipation; the awe of being in love with the child unfolding within my body; the fantasy of fulfilling my dream of motherhood; the satisfaction of believing that all of my experience to date had helped to prepare me to be a “good mother”.

There is nothing more magical than giving birth to a first child. Those first nights gazing into your newborn’s very soul, feeling that you are the only ones on the planet while the rest of your world slumbers and the constellations circle the night sky.

Having children gave me an opportunity to reconstruct my own childhood experience; to learn forgiveness and humility as I realized and learned to live with the imperfections in my parents and in myself; the priceless gift of once again seeing the world through the eyes of a child; the opportunity to experience that sweet innocence minus the judgment, distorted perceptions and cynicism that are the inevitable by-products of growing up.

As the years have passed, every moment has been a whole rainbow of feelings; the immensity of the task of being a parent playing itself out day after day after day, with all of its joy and fear and protectiveness and inadequacy and guilt and triumph and frustration and satisfaction and doubt and resentment and pride and enormous indescribable Love.

In being a mother, I have found myself constantly defining and redefining who I am, and who I hope to be, as an individual, a life partner, a parent; persevering through tough times that, had I not had my children to consider, may have turned out very differently.

Parenthood has forced me to come to terms with my own fears and shortcomings; to open myself up to the reality that I am not my children, and they are not me; to learn the arts of negotiation and compromise and letting go.

The miracle continues to blossom forth every day before my very eyes- that tiny bundle of wonder and joy and utter vulnerability evolving into the kind, sensitive, confident, funny, smart, talented men that my children have come to be a quarter of a century later.

Motherhood has enriched my life and taught me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined, and I am so very grateful for the experience. My sons are, without a doubt, my greatest teachers. RDW (2-24-11)


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