I’ve been thinking a lot about last week’s post about why we have kids, and my own post a month back about our house, and how it’s less about the stuff and the size, and more about the love. Both posts have one thing in common – they remind us that there is something about parenting that is impossible to put your finger on.
My dad once told me that the best thing about having kids is that “you get to do all of those things that kids love that you just can’t do alone as adults.” I used to think that was the oddest thing. Really? I’m hankering more for a Beer at my favorite bar than playing arcade games when we’re on vacation. I’m more interested in sitting in the sun and having a long conversation with my friends than I am chasing my child around the park. I just didn’t buy it. Events that are catered towards kids? Not as much fun as relaxing events catered towards adults.
But yet time after time, I prove my own thoughts wrong.
Most recently this happened when I decided to return to my favorite birthday destination, Arlington Park – only this time, with several kids in tow. Would we have fun? Would it be a disaster? Would it be worth it? As a child, my family and I went to the races frequently (OK, maybe it wasn’t, but when I look back on it, it was to me). I loved them so much, I wrote a fan letter one year to the only woman jockey at Canterbury Downs. I once was even a jockey for Halloween. I used to play horse and jockey with my friend in her backyard and my horse’s name was always “Whatchyagonnadonow.” That’s serious love.
After we got home and the kids were in bed, my husband and I were comparing this trip to the last childless trip years ago. We compared what we did (I chatted with friends, labored over my horse choices by reading all of the stats and even the daily racing form; he sat upstairs under the large cantilevered roof and drew for an hour or two, passing in and out of conversation as our friends mingled back and forth with a drink in hand.). This time we took turns changing diapers, corralling children, explaining what betting is, watching the kids hang off of the rails in the paddock while we watched the horses getting groomed, saying the funny names of the horses, and letting the kids pick which they wanted to win based on the color of the jockey’s silks.
Which was more fun? Sure, if you go simply based on your standard ruler of fun – the kid-less time. But in reality? The time that we got pass on our love for something that made me so happy as child. The time that I followed my youngest around as he screamed HOHHHHSEEEEEEEE, HOHHHHHSEEEEE (horsey, for those of you who don’t speak Abbott). The time that a friend’s youngest burst out into tears every time his horse (always the one with the jockey wearing the orange shirt) didn’t win.
There must be some magical switch that get’s turned on when you become a parent. You hear some say that whatever it is, it’s shown in the sacrifice you’re willing to pay to give your child what they need, that defines the love. But in reality, I think it’s about remembering the pure beauty of the World and being allowed to introduce that Fabulousness to fresh eyes, bit by bit, day after day after day.
And when the day is over, and your child looks at you in your eyes and says “I am loving you SO very much today mommy. I love you and daddy and Abbott and my Whole Family so much,” you know that they’ve seen and experienced something new, something important, something life changing, even if it’s something you never would have even taken note of as an adult.
And then what do you do? You send those kids to bed, so you can breathe deeply and get ready to begin another day of discovery.