You grow so used to your role; which is ridiculous, considering it is ever-changing. Like that saying about the river; you can’t step in the same day of parenting twice either. Though it may all seem a vibrant blur of similarities; the same faces and foibles and fruitless searching for misplaced items and adjectives, it’s an ecosystem that is constantly developing. Somedays hugely.
Like this morning; when Theo got in the shower, and washed himself, and turned the water off when he was finished, and dried himself, and dressed. And I was like, huh? Aren’t you…Shouldn’t I…Don’t you need me to…? Nice work, Bubba! I’ll just sit on the couch for 5 luxurious minutes, shall I? Wait, who am I again?
You don’t have much cause, I find, to feel genuinely astounded. But parenting is like an explosion of astonishment. At first, you’re pregnant! You or your baby-mama are literally growing a person! In your/their body! Then, everything going to plan, you/they give birth to that person! From your/their vagina! I know! Then, you actually have a baby! …but what do you do with it, exactly? Oh! You do everything! Everything!
But with that Everything! comes opportunity of shameless astonishment. Of falling in love with everything about this tiny person you are getting to know. They have such tiny hands! They look like you today! You’re obsessed with their bowel movements! They were foamier than yesterday! But it is allowed. It is warranted. Because, wow, you know? It’s huge.
And then they do things like roll! Off the change table! And sit up! And get teeth! And you stumble through all these parameter shifts, clinging hopefully to established milestones for reassurance, where there is no certainty. Crawling, walking, communicating. It all happens, but on its own vastly broad and variable terms. But at its heart, it’s you and them. The same.
And though it is all you are doing, it often goes unnoticed that you are teaching them everything. How to be people. What to do, and how and when. So though it is your very mission, it is still cause for astonishment when they actually do it. Especially of their own volition. That they are learning to do everything. The very Everything! you have been so dedicated to. That the central goal of your role is to gradually do yourself out of a job.
Parenting is so immediate, even though you will always be a parent now. It is easy to lose sight of futures you are only able to imagine. Where you do not have to wash any bottom but your own, or remind anyone to share or say sorry or use their manners. Where you do not have to do Everything! But, everyday, those futures are finding their way to you. Slowly and surely. And for certain.