Parenthood: A Real-Life Time Warp
It's one of those things they fail to mention in labor class, your prenatal yoga class, or frequent sonogram visit. Parenthood will manifest flashbacks, draw up your past and force you face who you are, who you’re going to be, and how you’re going to parent. There will be these intense moments that remind us what it was like to be the child; unaware of what life has to offer: absorbing and learning from everyone and everything around you. And when these flashback come, they will be all encompassing and so pervasive that you will feel, smell and taste that moment.
This along with tons of other tidbits of knowledge that people fail to mention, are only appreciate once it starts happening to you. Now that my son is a toddler and seemingly shifting from baby to little boy overnight, these flashbacks are coming harder and faster. His ability to communicate emotions but still incomplete ideas makes it that much more real. A few weeks ago, around 11 pm he cried, roused from his sleep. Afraid of a dog - we do not have - and inconsolable until in the arms of his 'Aba' (Dad, in hebrew), that it hit me:
Children learn the definition of comfort, acceptance, and love through the ways their parents express it. It becomes their definition of ‘normal’, shaping their definition of love.
Though we couldn't understand what exactly was bothering him, it was our job to make him feel better. We happen to have a rule in our house, that we don't want to let him cry himself to sleep - specifically if he's crying because he's scared or sad. (Crying because he's over tired, we closed the door, or didn't read a 3rd or 4th book is okay by us). So we stayed, we comforted, we rocked him and he calmed.
Meanwhile, all I keep thinking is that I'm the mother, the child, the partner and the observer, all at once. Memories bubbled to the surface from moments I sought, craved, and felt comforted as my son now did. Moments where I felt love and acceptance, pain, and fear. And it begins to dawn on me how intertwined my role is as mother, child, and partner.
As a Mother: I'm shaping what will bring him comfort, how he will define love throughout his life
As the Child: The love I sought for in a partner was shaped by my parents
As a Partner: What I expect of my partner is shaped by what I saw and received from my parents
As the Observer: What the parents give the child will shape what they seek and give as a person, a partner, and parent.
As I started to unpack this I asked myself: Has this always been true for me? Am I doing this right? Is this the case for everyone? But then I pause, to leave those questions unanswered for now, to instead breathe in this moment and squeeze my little man a little tighter. It's one of those fleeting moments in parenthood that remind you of something deep within yourself and in your past, but also plant you firmly in the present.
Tonight my job is The Mother. To give comfort. To be patient (these wake-ups have the potential to l