For My Birthday- The Many Gifts of Having a Child in Your Life
On my birthday, I realized that my ears have become bionic. I didn’t realize how noisy everything is until my daughter came along—and sleep became so precious. Floor boards creak, dishes clank, and my dog actually yips in his sleep. To drown out the major offenders we use several things– classical music, a humidifier, and a white noise machine that my husband sometimes thinks is on too loudly. What can I say? I cringe at the thought that they might wake up my daughter, especially if it’s been a particularly hard day or challenging night time sleep routine.
It’s funny what you realize when you have a child. Perhaps every sense is just heightened. Parents know their children’s smells (good or bad!), their baby’s cries, and when a stranger puts their son or daughter at ease or on alert. But one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in myself, and with other parents I know, is that our emotions become so much more exposed to us—some learn to control them quickly while others more easily fly off the handle. Some do both—depending on the circumstance.
Parents feel their children’s pain—this can push us. We just want to stop the pain and bark at anyone who might get in the way or may be taking just a little too long to figure out what to do. Their pain hurts us more than our own. A good friend, Joanie, used to tell her son, “I wish I could just crawl inside and feel the pain for you.” I think we all feel that way.
But I think we also see what’s important. Events that might have sent us reeling in our younger years wash over us like water and we stay calm, cool, and collected. That amazes me. A child can cry in our ear for an hour and we can keep our wits about us—a gift that seems to come to most of us with the birth or adoption of our children. Of course, falling hopelessly in love can do that to a person.We look into their eyes and, we’re there, we’re theirs, heart and soul.
Yes, we fall in love. I guess we have to—this keeps parents from losing their minds or asking their children to simply get out of the car when they are driving us nuts! The love is so strong it almost makes us feel sick. And we thought we knew love when we were in high school? Ha!
At Tallie’s “Welcome to the World” party, a friend of the family said something to me that really struck me. “Now you know how much your mother loves you.” Ahhh–the gift of perspective–although I hadn’t thought about it that way until that moment. There is someone out there that could feel about you how you feel about your kids.
As we get older, we do more and more for ourselves. There is much less cuddling, snuggling, and hugging between parent and child. This is to be expected. The teen years bring more friction, frustration, and individuation. We spend less time together. We have more to do. Again, normal. So its easy to forget along the way just how intense our parents’ love is for us. The concrete physical reminder is less obvious. Time is spent quickly. Priorities shift.
And then, we have our our children and they shift again.
So as I sat with my child in the wee hours of the night of my birthday, I think that this year, to quote a family friend, “I’ve gained 10 pounds of joy.” It’s 4am and yet, I’m happy to be right where I am–snuggled up to my daughter while feeding her as if she is an extension of myself, thinking she is the perfect child for us, and how she is the most beautiful birthday gift to the world. And then I stopped to remember, my mother was probably thinking the same thing all those years ago. And ya know what? She probably still is.