My cousin once told me that having children changed her perspective of the entire world.
I can’t say that my view of the world changed, but having children certainly changed me. This was never more apparent than the other day when I was driving with my kids to the store.
My three-year-old loves ambulances, and whenever he sees one, he lets me know about it in a very enthusiastic way. Though I’m not sure that a three-year-old needs to know about all the dangers of this world, I did tell him once that the purpose of an ambulance is to go help someone when they get hurt.
On our drive to the store the other day, we passed not only an ambulance but also a fire truck with their lights and sirens blaring. My son, after his joy in seeing the vehicles passed, said sympathetically, “Hope no one is hurt!”
I nodded and said the same thing, and before I knew it, my eyes filled up with tears. What the heck? I thought and laughed. There was a time that I never cried, but ever since I have had children, I can tear up quicker than you can finish this sentence.
When I was single, it was just me, and it was just my life ahead of me. My own goals were foremost in my mind, and there was nothing wrong with that. Every person has to forge ahead in his or her own life and decide what they want to do with it.
As cliché as it sounds, however, my life took on new meaning after I had children. Now I have two other lives that are depending on me, and what they become or don’t become is all up to me. (Of course, they are their own individuals with minds of their own, but I trust you know what I’m talking about.)
When I pass an ambulance with my child and hear its sirens, I pray there isn’t a young child waiting for it, or a mother, or a father. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but whenever something bad happens regarding children – even if I’m just watching a tragic movie – I lose it. When I was single events like this moved me, and now they tear me up inside.
What is it about children that can alter us so much? There is certainly no other love like the love a parent has for his or her child. It is as if we can live life over again through our children. Everything about the world can be seen with fresh eyes, including our own lives. Through child rearing, I am finally brought back to what is most important in life. No dogma, psychotherapy or yoga class could have ever done more for me. Perhaps this isn’t what parenthood is like for everyone, but I am grateful that it did me a good turn.
Once I heard Garrison Keillor talk about how as a young man he had always wanted an extraordinary life, but once his daughter was born, he realized the “extraordinary is in the ordinary.” I suppose it’s the same for me. Everything I thought I wanted in life is still there, but now I see more clearly how the simple things in life make me happy.
And now that I’m happy, the risk of losing it is higher, so I will laugh and cry when my son yells out “ambulance!” I will laugh because of the joy my son gets from everyday life, and I will cry because it’s all I’ve ever needed.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.