When a friend of mine had her first child recently, I struggled to find something to say that would convey a little of the strangeness and wonder of becoming a parent. It finally struck me that one of the things I have found most extraordinary is how it feels to be so completely trusted by another person. When I had my first child I did not feel completely grown-up, and I suspect I may never feel completely grown-up, but to my children I am the definition of grown-up. I warned my friend that her children will never acknowledge that she sometimes feel too young and too ignorant to be their parent, because to them, she is very old and deeply wise. They will never wonder if she can take care of them; they know she can. They will have trouble understanding that sometimes she is tired or sick, because to children their parents are the most powerful things they can imagine. Their lives are in your hands, and they know it; but this does not frighten them, because they trust you with their lives.
When my children get old enough to think I am an ignorant, out-of-date fool, and an ugly ogre, too, I'll post something about that. But now I am still in the stage of complete, unearned trust, with some years yet to go.
July 7, 1999
|From the Commonplace Book
"My worthy friend, gray are all theories, and green alone life's golden tree."
Train to Lisbon