The Most Amazing Thing About Parents Isn’t Amazing At All

The longer I parent, the more I know one thing is true: I am a human. And so are my kids.

I am a human who gets violently angry, who has trouble controlling her temper, who feels impatient and frustrated and takes it out on whoever is in the vicinity. I think of myself first and how the mess on the floor will mess up my day. I think about how I will look draped not in jewelry but spit up.

But I am also a human with a great deal of patience, one who can tune out banging, humming and drumming, and quickly discern laughter from cries. I dole out hugs, even when I don’t think the ouch deserves all that whining. I forgive and soothe and comfort.

I am a human who hates and loves, who yells and whispers, who rocks and lullabies and sometimes screams and then apologizes.

I am so terrifically, undeniably human and that’s why it’s so amazing that I can parent. It’s amazing that I can muster this love and sacrifice every day. It’s amazing that someone like me, so normal, so average, so selfish, can give up my time and energy and affection for people who will never be able to love me back this way.

I guess I could wear a cape, but it would probably just get dirty. And in the way. [Click photo for credit.]
I am raising other humans who happen to share my DNA, and together with my husband, also perfectly human, we do this thing. Day in and out, against our will at times, but most days, we are thoroughly grateful for this opportunity to breathe life and joy into the next generation. Who happen to have his chin and my mouth.

It is truly a miracle that I do it, that I can do it. It’s a love-powered engine, parenting is. There is no way to explain how humans put up with all the tantrums and outbursts and did-you-hit-your-brother-AGAIN? moments and spilled dinners and endless laundry heaps and sinks of dishes and runs to the school and the soccer field and slumber parties and thankless, thankless days and long nights of almost getting to bed before you actually do.

I amaze myself because there are only 24 hours in my day, and I am thinking about sleep for most of them. I get tired. I get mean. I have limits, and I run into them hard and fast. But much of the time, I am smiling and tickling and scooping dinner onto large plates and small ones and swooping the baby up close and popping his binkie back in his mouth for the fiftieth time tonight.

It’s not my superpowers that amaze me. It’s the fact that I lack them completely but still live with such relentless, unconditional kindness anyway. Now that is amazing.

If I were a superhero and could pick my superpower, I would pick love and sacrifice because they are harder than flying. And quite frankly, tantrums and old-fashioned obstinance are already my kryptonite.

But I am not super, and still I do the things a superhero does. So maybe I don’t need that these powers after all. Or perhaps I already have them.

What’s even more incredible is I’m not the only one. If you’re a parent or a caregiver, you do it also. It’s crazy amazing what we do because we aren’t amazing, but we kind of are too.

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