Having a child is creating a new life. For the parents I mean. Granted, the child’s new life is certainly a blessing, too. But for the “grown-ups” (and I use the term somewhat loosely) having children gives the adult a whole new life as well.
Sure, everyone and their greeting cards will tell you about the life of a parent – one sans sleep, freedom, and clothing devoid of spit-up. But there is a whole other “new life” out there that just doesn’t get the press.
Me, I got into this parenting business for the magic. Last Christmas, for example, was the first that our son, then age 4, really “got it.” The magic of Santa, the promise of Jesus’ birth, the entire ball of wax that wraps up the anticipation of Christmas.
On Christmas morning, this boy who normally greets each day grouchy and in denial of another brutal day of ample snacks, naps, and playtime, sprung from bed and raced downstairs. His jaw dropping at the sight of the tree.
Thankfully, it wasn’t so much about the presents (although they were certainly a good draw) but rather the magic. Blessed with the newness of it all, Matthew truly believes.
He believes fervently in the cookie crumbs left behind by Santa. In the carrots nibbled by the reindeer. In the fireplace screen left askew by Santa’s hasty retreat. He believes and in his joy he makes us believe as well.
As the new year opens, prospects might appear bleak. Employment is insecure. The economy is falling. The war on terrorism proves to have major loopholes (Osama, Saddam, so many evil dictators, so little time …). Orange Alerts: “High Chance of Terror Today — be sure to bring your umbrella!”
Our bank accounts are stretched to the breaking point – if not already broken. And yet, to the children it is the only life they know. And it is still full of good things.
Experiencing life anew changes a person. Street fairs and cheesy small town parades are so much more. Cotton candy isn’t just empty calories when enjoyed with a beaming (and very sticky) baby.
My daughter’s wide-eyed, belly laugh as she danced happily and insisted she was a monkey (while wearing what was undeniably a cat costume) is so much more satisfying than my own ever-so-adult “it’s all so fattening and silly” response pre-parenthood.
Clowns, on the other hand, are always freakishly scary. I don’t care how old – or young – I get.
To see the magic is to experience the seemingly mundane anew. Take layaround days. We celebrated this much under-appreciated day recently. On this hallowed day adults are sternly advised that “all we are going to do at all today is lay around and just be together. We aren’t going to do nothin’!”
So, you can well imagine, it was a holiday I was into from the get-go. On layaround day you laze around with lots of big soft pillows and eat cookies and tangerines (let the peels fall where they may!), and you read books with more pictures than words because, I am told, “those are the good kind.”
On breaks everyone gets to watch cartoons. Quite a bit of the day is spent giggling, and you wrap it all up with a warm bath and half a bottle of bubbles.
On layaround day and every day, children take one fully into the moment where adults too often forget to tread. Experienced fresh all over again, endless tomorrows of a new life must be fully embraced.
Lest any little bit of the fascination of a life newly lived – from a blade of grass to why the moon is in the sky – should pass you by.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is exceedingly grateful for the gifts her children provide each day. She welcomes mail c/o P.O. Box 39, Salem, OH 44460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)