Hey, all you parents out there! Remember when your babies were, ya’know, still babies?
Most of you were there for their births. (Adoption is a wonderful and caring thing and should be celebrated.) Your own parents may have taken over for a little while when an exhausted mommy or daddy couldn’t keep their eyes open. After all, they raised their own children, and they turned out pretty well. You watched over them in their bassinets and cribs – tiny hands curling around your finger. Your parents probably laughed at the last-minute baby proofing. “Why do we even have a glass coffee table?” Or, from your parents, “You’ve known this baby was on the way for awhile, you could’ve done some of this ahead of time!”
You may have picked out the cute little orange onesie with a matching pumpkin top hat. Coming up with excuses to hold the lil’ buggers wasn’t difficult. “Was that the door bell? I’ll hold the baby while you check.”
They got older and started walking. “Where the heck is that kid? She was here three seconds ago!” You pretended not to find them while they giggled uncontrollably hiding behind the curtains while playing hide and seek. You watched the same episode of He-Man over and over and over and over and over. You acquiesced during a grandparent visit that was never complete without at least six hugs good-bye. “Grandma! Please stay a little longer!”
School started and you saw them less and less. Hobbies, activities and their friends ate up more of your time with them. Some of you welcomed the respite and some of you missed them terribly, agonizing over what they were doing.
There were achievements – achievements that boggled the mind. “Who the heck taught him how to juggle?” There were setbacks – setbacks that tried your patience and the limits of parental endurance. “I’ve told you twice to take a shower and get ready for bed! Do I need to confiscate something so you’ll listen?”
First words, first tooth, first kiss, first (gasp!) driving lesson: You were there for them all. You wonder, “Am I teaching them to be human beings?” Or, “Will my baby change the world?” Heck, if you could just get them to pull the legs out on their jeans before dumping them inside-out in the light clothes basket, you would most assuredly receive the Nobel Prize.
You look to a higher power to care for them when you’re not present. You’ve instilled in them the values that you believe in, but they don’t always understand or believe in what you do. You can only do your best and send them into the world.
Today is Halowe’en. The older babies are going to parties. Or, the infamous, “Trick-or-treating is for little kids.” Have fun with your children today. It’s one of the few days of the year where a kid can truly be a kid. We all dress up in silly, scary or simple costumes. We eat candy until our stomach hurts. We celebrate being a family, a family created by birth or assembled by adoption.
I’ll end this Halowe’en post with a quote from Steve Almond: “Nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Hallowe’en night.”