Before I became a parent, back when I wanted desperately to be a parent, I would play movies in my head. I would run scenes of how it would be, of the things I would do with my child, of the joy we would share.
One of the most enduring scenes in my head involved raking leaves. It would be a brilliant, fall day, warm and sunny. I would be happily raking and indulgently chiding my mischievous ragamuffin as he frolicked alongside me.
When today dawned bright and sunny I started to think I just might find myself reliving that fantasy I had long held dear.
But it was not to be.
Yes, it was sunny and warm and thousands of leaves had fallen in our large, ravine yard.
But Graham was having none of it.
He didn't want to frolic. He wanted Mommy to carry him around and around the yard while he pointed at trees. When I finally tired of that and encouraged him to play the part I had envisioned for him, the tantrum began.
I tried to introduce him to his own rake so we could work together.
He was clearly insulted.
And so I gave up. I gave up on raking and I gave up on my fantasy of how it would be.
Because if there is one thing I have learned since having Graham, it's that parenting is never quite the way you imagine it will be.
There are wonderful moments. Many wonderful moments.
And there are tough moments. Moments that are tougher than anything you imagine.
All these moments, good and bad, present themselves when you least expect them. The joy sneaks up on you and floods your heart like a tidal wave from the clear blue sea. And the frustration steals the show when you feel sure the scene is set for a happy ending.
And in the end, you learn that ultimately you are destined to play only a supporting role in your child's life. You learn that not matter how the movie in your head plays out, you can never be the director of someone else's show.