all of the selves we Have ever been
Many years ago, during a lull between patients, my colleagues and I chatted. My co-workers were all women and accomplished healthcare professionals who had raised families. Their lives embodied success. One of the women asked the group, “If you could go back and relive one moment from your life, what would it be?” Without hesitation,
all of the other women answered in unison:
"a moment to rock my babies again.”
At the time, my children were young school-agers, and I was a single mom just hoping to live long enough to see my kids grow up. Twenty years later, my children are young adults with busy lives, and I have joined the chorus. If I could relive a moment from my life, I would choose to rock my babies again.
I would gladly take back the moments when my entire world fit into my arms, moments when no universe existed beyond my rocking chair. I would take back those eyes that sparkled like jewels inside a small, soft head covered with damp curls. I would breathe in the scent of those warm bodies exuding the fresh, clean smell of baby powder and innocent new life. I would take back those moments when their eyes locked with mine and a broad grin overtook their faces, droplets of milk escaping their cupid-bow lips and sliding down their small chins. I would delight once again in that moment of discovery and recognition, when their eyes danced saying: “It’s you! I know you!” And they were happy to see me. I would take back those sweet moments before the real challenges of parenting began, the moments before anything went wrong, the time before the universe expanded and the weight of the world was sometimes more than my arms could carry.
Parenting is hard work. There are ups and downs. Personalities emerge along with needs, talents, and health problems. The adorable baby develops a mind and a will, and too quickly, our children enter a world outside our arms, a universe that is constantly expanding and often strange and frightening to us. All the while, we are also trying to manage the demands of work and adult life and the pressure to choose career over family. Books, magazines, newspapers, the internet, and social media inundate us with how-to advice and images of wealthy influencers as examples for comparison. We are constantly re-assessing and doubting ourselves. We are robbed of joy.
If I were to write a book on child-rearing, it would be short: Parenting is hard work. It will not be easy. You will face uncertainty. Sometimes you will be scared to death. But nothing in your life—past, present, or future--will ever matter more. Ignore the mob and choose the joy. Stock up at the beginning. Savor the moments when the entire world fits into your arms and the universe is no bigger than your rocking chair.