A reader recently asked in the forums: “What are the good parts of having kids?” and I have enjoyed reading the responses while I thought about my own answer to this question. I have only been a parent for three years and five days (and the eight+ months before that when I carried Jackson inside me), so I am still learning the good parts of having a kid and I know I will continue learning for the rest of my life, long after Jackson has grown up and is no longer a kid (though he will always be my boy).
The thing is, there are so MANY good parts about having a kid, but, for me anyway, they are measured more than anything by moments — some so fleeting that I often have to consciously tell myself to remember this, remember this, remember this. And even now in my remembering of some of these moments, I feel nostalgic that they have long passed and that Jackson is now my precocious and curious and active, active, active 3-year-old and not my little baby any more. It does go so fast, as everyone says. And the moments that make all the lost sleep and sacrifice and expense and worry worth it fly by. But the good news is that these moments find a permanent home in your heart, and, even when their place in your memory loses footing over years of life and loss and chaos, they root themselves deep in your heart and stay.
I could talk about some of these moments that have brought immeasurable joy to my life, but instead I will sum them up by describing what they’ve done to my heart: they have filled and sealed cracks and holes made from heartache and disappointment with laughter and love and compassion. They have expanded and pushed through walls, and lightened the weight of all the negative feelings I’ve picked up and carried with me all my life. And even as the hard and challenging and sometimes heartbreaking moments of parenthood break me down, these magical moments — and there are so many every day — pull me up and pull me through. They have made me a better person in just a few years. I am more tolerant and more patient and more loving because the experience of motherhood has made me so.
Having a kid isn’t for everyone. It is the hardest, most exhausting, and, more often than not, thankless thing I’ve ever done. But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. And I am so, so grateful I got the opportunity to do it and that, not only did I have the opportunity, but I also didn’t let fear of the unknown, or fear of hard work or fear of change or fear of sacrificing some of the things I enjoy, keep me from pursuing this thing that has been better than all the rest.
I can’t wait to see who Jackson grows up to be. I can’t wait, and yet, at the same time, I want to savor all these fleeting moments that continue filling my life with joy. I want to hold on to them forever. I want them to never lose footing in my memory. But I will settle in knowing they’ll be with me forever, at home in my ever-expanding heart.