Biggest surprise of my life? Parenting. No matter how hard I try, I cannot escape feeling the complete and utter awe that surrounds the totality of the parenting experience. And yet, despite parenting being a nearly indescribable wonder, there is one moment–one fairly common and frequent action–that keeps surfacing which illustrates it perfectly.
More than the always surprising bump of my hand into hers as we begin to walk toward and away from the car, more than her exasperating desire to be picked up just when I finally can leave the hamburger helper to simmer on the stove, more than her double-checking nightly that after story-time when I get up to turn off the light I will be coming back to rub her for a bit before leaving her alone to dream, more than all these things is her firm tug on my fingers when she recognizes we will be parting for whatever practical reason.
I make her go to her bed when she’s “not even sleepy!” twice a day, and because I am sleepy I linger in my bed when she wants me to get out of it. Still she tugs.
Recently she brought over a toy digital camera and demonstrated first-hand just how annoying it must be to have me tell her that I’ll only be another minute on the laptop or phone for fifteen minutes at a time. (Point taken.) Still she tugs.
I bull-headedly push my play-time agenda to the point of tears when all she wants is to be with me. Still she tugs.
I make her wait as I putz around doing who knows what because I’m not looking forward to sitting on the ground to play stuffed-animals. Still she tugs.
I dictate the order in which she eats her meal and drinks her drink. Still she tugs.
I never let her play in the bath after she’s clean. Still she tugs.
I choose the bedtime story more often than not because I know that these stories will have a lasting impact. Still she tugs.
And no matter how much I want to stay with her, my decisions have given her the memory of constantly leaving one of her parents for the other for an entire childhood. And still she tugs.