Wednesday, March 4, 2009

And now I know

I blame the haircut.

Graham had one - a haircut - just last weekend and once again I'll be damned if he didn't age before my eyes: if the boy, the teenager, the man he will become didn't all of a sudden start to peer out from behind his eyes, lurk around the edges of his smile and reveal teasing flashes of his presence with every tilt of my son's newly-shorn head.

And I couldn't help it, I got to thinking once again, reflecting on how this person, this child has so completely and utterly transformed my life, my heart and my very soul.

And so it was the haircut, that damn haircut, along with this thoughtful essay over at Mom Grind on the transformational aspects of parenting, that got me thinking. In her essay the brilliant Vered quotes a hostile commenter who asked her the very same question we've all heard a million times, the very same question that I confess I may have even asked myself, back in the day before something as simple as a little boy's haircut was enough to prompt me to deep philosophical ruminations on the meaning of life:

"Why do people with children act like they’re the first people to ever have to parent in the entire history of mankind?”

It's a valid question to be sure and one deserving of a thoughtful answer and so I apologize in advance because, despite days of ruminating, I can say only this:

"People with children act like they're the first people to ever have to parent in the entire history of mankind because, damnit, they can't help it."

I can't help it.

Because I had no idea that it would be like this, even though everyone told me it would be. I didn't get it, not even a little bit. How could I? How can anyone really grasp the sheer amount of effort - both physical and emotional - that it takes to raise a helpless infant into a self-sufficient human being?

I have often heard authors refer to their novels as their babies and, as a writer myself, I understand that analogy. To both would-be authors and parents seeking understanding I say this: imagine if you started work on a novel and it quickly became your obsession. Imagine that you ate, slept and breathed that novel, day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out for years.

And years and years.

Imagine if from the very first minute that you conceived that novel, it took precedence in every single area of your life. Imagine if you were compelled to put it ahead of your sleep and your food and your friends and your marriage and your well being and your alone time and that it was the first thing you thought of when you woke up in the morning and the last thing swirling through your brain late at night and that, even as you slept, it danced through your dreams.

For years and years and years.

And imagine that every day your pride in your novel grew and grew and that you pressed on in your devotion, imbued with the unshakable knowledge that this novel was your life's work.

Surely you would be celebrated all across the world as an artist of fierce passion and devotion, right?

Not so much.

Imagine that no one really gave a rat's ass about your novel, much less wanted to read it. Imagine that most people weren't interested in acknowledging the effort that you put into your novel and were quick to tell you that your years of selfless effort were just par for the course. Imagine that they rolled their eyes and looked bored when you brought it up.

Wouldn't you feel like no one else in the universe really gets it?

Wouldn't you try and make them understand?

I would, by God. I would and I do. I talk about my masterpiece, my Graham, because I can't help it. I have to!

And so would you.

You might whisper at first, to others you suspect are in the same boat but finally you would just raise your voice and demand to be heard.

How is it possible, you will say, that millions of people experience the same thing? How is it possible that you're not the only person in the entire history of mankind who has worked so hard on something and not achieved greatness and glory for their efforts? How can it be that millions and millions of people throughout history have toiled, and continue to toil, in obscurity creating their own perfect masterpieces that no one, save them and their immediate family, really gives a rat's ass about?

It's incredible. It's unthinkable.

It's parenting and it's the biggest freaking trip anyone will ever take.

And I don't care how crazy I sound to the people who have never been parents, had the desire to be parents or worse, wish that parents would just shut up about it all.

Because I've worked so hard on my masterpiece that I have to believe that those people, and the person who left that comment for Vered, are just simply illiterate if they can't appreciate it.

And if they don't want to try and understand how a little boy's haircut can pave the way to ruminating on the infinite complexity of the universe and God's plans for our place in it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Bird's Eye View Photography said...

oh I understand.

OHmommy said...

so very true. all of it.

PS. where is a picture of G's haircut?

Vered said...

I'm happy and proud to have inspired a blog post, Kelly!

I agree with every single word. I loved the comment you left on my blog and I love that you developed the idea further here.

"It's parenting and it's the biggest freaking trip anyone will ever take." This sums it up beautifully. It's big and awesome and all-consuming and it's beyond imagination and beyond words, and only parents can understand this.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Yep, you got it. And it doesn't change no matter how many children you have.
I haven't been around this month and I hope you are doing well, you are in my thoughts often.

Shania said...

This is exactly why Silas hasn't had a haircut in 6 months. I can't stand that it makes him look so grown up. Of course, with his Javier Bardem hair, he looks like a sociopath, so...

Kat said...

Oh this is just so perfect. Just beautifully said.

Chantal said...

Wow! That is such an amazing post. It sums it up so perfectly. Wonderful.

April said...

I have to disagree a little with you. No one's ever parented my children. It is a unique experience for every single one of us, but the camaraderie we find in others who are going through it is one of the benefits, for sure.

Don Mills Diva said...

Actually April I'm not sure we disagree on that. If I had just thought it through I could have skipped the whole damn essay I just wrote and said it succiently like you and Cheri did:

No one in the entire history of mankind has ever parented my child.



Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I think you can understand the need of parents to be with other parents. If you're not a parent you don't understand--and why would you?

I don't understand why it annoys people for others to be happy about undergoing a magical and life-altering experience AND I don't understand why people don't get that their magical and life-altering experience may not hold quite as much magic for others.

Ellyn said...

I understand. Well said.

I agree with OHMommy. Where are the pictures? We must see pictures.

Sass said...

Of course not everyone gets it. That's why it's so special.

Write on.

On the subject of haircuts: If you could take a moment to share some diva-wisdom - is it possible for a hair cut to also turn the clock backwards? I'm contemplating a sassy fringe (bangs). I could do with losing a year or five. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

When I was pregnant with my first child, and in her very early days, I was amazed to think that everyone started this way. It made me look at people differently. Even the most nondescript souls that never would have gotten a second thought had a mother. Someone took care of them, or they wouldn't be here today.

As for haircuts, my 6.5 month old boy has rather shaggy locks, which I refuse to consider trimming. I know that as soon as I do he will not look the same to me, and I will embark on a similar journey of self-exploration. So I'm dragging my heels.

Michelle said...

::signs the picture petition::

KG said...

I like Cheri's idea. As a parent just KNOW that your child is different from every other kid on the planet. Also, you're madly in love with your child and you know how dorky people are who are in love. That has to be part of it to.

Anyway, I hate the haircuts. I'm glad my son's hair is extremely curly and just seems to curl up tighter and tighter as it gets longer. I hope I don't have to cut it until he's 10.

Corey~living and loving said...

it truly is impossible to understand until you are there.

well said.

RiverPoet said...

Blogging is something I wish I'd had while raising my children, to be able to share all those firsts in written form, to be able to interact with a thousand other mothers to have that support and camaraderie. Mothers today are very lucky to have this venue.

If my son were little again, I would write - with grief! - about the day we got his hair cut and the little blonde curls fell away. I would write about the day Daddy put him on the school bus for the first time and I was away on business (with more grief!). And I would write about the day I found out someone had hurt and forever damaged my daughter.

Much of it is done in retrospect for me now, but it is no less unique to me, as your son is to you.

Write on!

Peace - D

InTheFastLane said...

Being a mom really does change or perspective on everything. Very well said. It also reminds me to be nicer to my own mom, who I sometimes feel has trouble letting go. But, of course she will feel that way.

Unknown said...

My husband always said that he wouldn't "get it" until he had children of his own. And guess what! Now he gets it! I think that is at the heart of it all. You just don't know until you are in it with your very own children.

This was so enjoyable to read. Thank you...

Amber said...

I love this post so much! You powerfully and clearly put in words what I think many moms and dads feel and can't express. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

OMG, I know. Lately I have felt that every single moment with my daughters is precious and I can't believe I'm lucky enough to get to be a part of it. It is simply amazing to me that I created these beautiful human beings, who love me with such a pure, unconditional love. As if to say, "Thanks for giving me life." How can you explain that to someone who hasn't experienced it? You can't.

Pregnantly Plump said...

That is so true! I can't believe someone would make such a comment to a mommy blogger. Very odd.

Zip n Tizzy said...

I remember trying to explain to a childless friend that it wasn't that all parents had this secret club in which we all conspired to convince the outside world that our children consumed our lives... Our children DO in fact consume our lives.

But, that's also why parents tend to band together. Nobody else would tolerate our unfinished sentences let alone conversations.

I love your novel analogy.

Blog said...

Awesome post, DMD. this sums up what I've been feeling. Who could have possibly prepared me when I was sitting, pregnant for the first time, in my office cubicle, counting down the days to parenthood. The second one was even more surprising. I could mother one, so second should be no problem. NO ONE can prepare you.

Totally like writing a novel. A really long, philosophical, mathematical, scientific and historical one.... ;)

CC said...

I've thought about that before too. To some I'm the "expert" because my oldest is 5. And to others I'm the "newbie" because my oldest is "only" 5. It's weird... said...

Well said. My masterpieces are FANTASTIC, by the way. And I happen to think your little dude is one, too.

Anonymous said...

My friend, QT, is the only non-parent I know that "gets it" - she loves my kids as much as I do and would throw herself in front of a train for them just as I would . . . it's a different life, a different everything the minute that masterpiece enters your life.

You said this all so beautifully.

JCK said...

So beautifully said. And he does look like a big boy with that haircut!