Lately I’ve been trying to put words to parenthood, and I’ve been coming up empty. I think that’s why so many parents reach for cliches when trying to describe what its like to see their own child grow—the experience of parenthood is just so unwieldy that words elude us. We use the cliche to tame the largeness of the experience, because no one wants to go to the universe and back when they ask, “How’s Hudson doing?”
It’s not really small-talk custom to break out the wiggly, squishy truth, but more, it’s really just not easy to package the truth into a sentence with a subject and a verb.
Parenthood is like concluding a sentence with a planet instead of a period.
Parenthood is one long breath away from worry, and two short skips to joy.
It’s constantly moving dangerous things out of the way of curious little raccoon hands.
It’s the top of a fuzzy head warming the bottom of your chin.
It’s like rolling your heart under a rolling pin. It’s expanding ever outward, but it’s also so thin and working so hard that it also feels so much easier to break.
And It’s that feeling right before you start to cry. That moment, all stored up, gathering speed and wind and gusto. Even if you don’t actually cry, the “moment-before” feeling is always, always there.
There’s just nothing concrete about it except the cliches. Which is why I think it’s so easy to reduce parenthood to diapers and sleeplessness and sticky hands.
I actually said it best when I met Hudson for the first time, though I was still coming out of sedation from surgery.
“This is… new emotion.”
I’ve never really understood Mary, never felt like we would have been friends. Until this year where the kinship I have with her now feels so large and so expansive—it’s new emotion, too. And I can’t help but wonder about Jesus at Hudson’s age. Was he ticklish? Did he fight his nap at church? Did he roll over triumphantly and look up to make sure Mary was watching? Did he yank his ear when he was teething? Did he kick his legs violently and quick when he was happy to see you?
Christ was sinless, but it’s not a sin to wake up your mother in the middle of the night because you’re hungry. When she heard the Savior’s plaintiff cry, did Mary roll over, sigh, take Jesus to her breast, then sit and feel her heart being rolled by a rolling pin? Was the bigness she felt like the bigness I feel?
In a world where it’s ok, encouraged, and celebrated to live for yourself, Mother Mary and Christ gave us permission to live for someone else as well. I still don’t have the words for it all, except that it’s big, and it’s new, and it’s so so good.