Parenthood first goes about revealing your innumerable flaws and shortcomings.
It does this in such a nonstop barrage of situations that reveal your inadequacy that you question not only your abilities, but the universe and its judgment to leave such a precious and wonderful gift in such incapable hands. But you fumble through and with repetition you learn that what feels massive is just a blip and when things that arise that could be massive are dealt with you start to trust that you in fact are the right person and the hospital didn’t make a mistake letting this baby come home with you.
You are broken down to your foundation and rebuilt brick by brick. It is a necessary and critical process as it allows you to discard the many silly things you treated with reverence before you knew and it leaves you with something approximating wisdom. When I held my first born for the first time I became aware of my own mortality. No one told me about this.
About sleepless nights and the many changes to lifestyle, sure, but this existential crisis was not something for which I was on the lookout. I thought about death passively and actively. It was a farmer’s toothpick getting chewed on, soft and tattered until it was soaked and malleable and worn through, splintering and finally turning to pulp to be discarded.
I am empowered by my inevitable death. What felt like a crisis, that I was not going to be able to foster him and his brother completely through a life, has turned into an awakening. It hurts to be sure that I won’t get to see how their stories end. I won’t be there to ensure as happy an ending possible and infact will rely on them to provide this for me. But between now and then it is my privilege and obligation to do everything I can to stack whatever odds I can in their favor. From this angle I’ve become a man that is determined to have as little difference between my public and private face as possible.
I do this for me, yes, but I also do it for them. My little guys need to see that they are able to be wholly themselves even when the world smirks at them. The world can seem a hellof a giant thing and when it takes note of you with scorn it can be scary. But you can’t be afraid.
You can’t allow the world to so color your opinion of yourself that you decide it’s best to hide behind whatever facades you decide upon which draw the least amount of attention. In fact, once you know fully who you are you can smirk right back at the world as you are equal to it. Primarily because ‘fuck it’. You are.
No matter what the world thinks of you it can’t change that unless you empower it. You, me and everyone we know are great. All of us. It may not play out on a stage large enough for the world to see and it may not ever make life easy, but it’s true. Our greatness is innate and the only way we can fail it is to not attempt to practice it and to share it. Do this and the world and its judgments will not only get quiet, they will disappear.