Nate describes the moment with such detail it makes me squirm.
He took Thalia to a local family resort the weekend I was at the BlogHer conference. There was an enormous water slide which he encouraged her to try (you know…dads), but once they reached the top and he looked down, it was suddenly higher than it had seemed from the ground. As in ginormous. A hundred stories at least. Or maybe three.
“One at a time, sorry” the attendant said up top. No matter how much Nate pleaded (Aw, she’s just two…I can’t go down with her?) they wouldn’t bend the rules. One at a time. So Nate went down the long, twisty slide first, then waited for our skinny, scrawny little wisp of a two year-old at the bottom.
As he watched from the pool, he caught quick glimpses of her when she hit visible bends – she was coming down feet first. Then head first. Then feet first on her belly. Then sideways. She careened back and forth along the slide, right to left, as the fast stream of water propelled her like a little projectile toddler missile. Nate was horribly anxious, envisioning her flying over the side, down to the pavement three stories below. (Or was it five stories? The number does increase a bit with each telling of the story). He couldn’t catch a look at her face long enough to know if she was terrified or delighted.
He imagined her crying the whole way down. He imagined her traumatized. Or hurt. Or worse.
“That’s when I knew I was a parent,” he says.
After Thalia plunged beneath the water of the pool into her dad’s outstretched arms, she emerged sputtering and spitting, furiously blinking the chlorine out of her eyes as she struggled to regain her breath.
Her only word: “M-m-m-MOOOOOOORE?”
My daughter the daredevil.
Now after my initial WHAT IN GOD’S NAME WERE YOU THINKING? reaction to the story, I considered the transformation Nate had experienced in that single moment, as he felt the brutal combination of fear, guilt, and overwhelming responsibility for another being. Alone, they were each challenging emotions. But together: “That’s when I knew I was a parent.”
So where’s mine?
Where’s my realization?
What’s my moment?
I don’t know if I have one.
A few possibilities spring to mind: Calling the pediatrician for an appointment and saying hi, this is Thalia’s mom. Or calling the pediatrician and saying hi, this is Thalia’s mom and she’s 2 weeks old and just rolled off our bed.
Maybe it was something more recent, like last week when I let Thalia try on an expensive necklace of mine because even if it broke for some reason, the joy it gave her for thirty seconds would have far more value to me.
Hey wait, I’ve got it! The first time Thalia called me mama!
If only I had any recollection of it.
Nope, I can’t think of that one “that’s when I knew…” moment. It just can’t be distilled into a single event, a riveting cocktail party story, or a last line for my memoir. Although I wish it could.
Maybe this coming to terms with parenting thing for me has just been a gradual process–a slow burn instead of a quick thwack to the head. (Or maybe there was one of those moments and I was just too tired to remember it, which seems entirely possible these days.) It’s just such a bizarre realization, as someone who has always commemorated details of my life with a jotted note, a journal entry, and yes, a blog post.
Wah, I want my moment.
Do you have one? Is this something all parents have? Am I just weird?