Saturday, 17 September 2011

Parenthood

Since my wife has been at a conference overseas for a week, and I've been left in charge of the offspring (girl, 5 and boy, 2), it's been a good time to focus and reflect on parenthood.  I'd best capture my thoughts here while they're fresh and before the comfortably numb family routine dissipates them like whispers in a strong breeze.

Parenthood is the greatest thing that can happen to a person.  Not only from the biological imperative perspective (continuing the genes etc.), but from the self-discovery and self-fulfillment perspective.  Nothing makes you reflect on the value of your life like the responsibility of raising children. Nothing gives you the full gamut of emotion, from elation to tears, of watching your offspring navigate their way through life.  There is no greater love, even though it is seldom as well expressed, as inspirational, as romantic love.

The thing that surprised me about parenthood, as a single person, was how much it influenced my attitude and actions.  I recall many times, as an uncle to my brothers' kids, thinking that there's no way I'd do this or that for someone else.  Yet when they are your own offspring not only do you do it willingly, it doesn't even occur to you to do otherwise.  Selflessness is not really a choice for a parent: we all have to do it to a lesser or greater extent.  That lack of choice is scary for some and underestimated by many (particularly those without kids).

Yet parenthood is so common it's trivial. Naff even. Although I think the naffness is really to do with schmaltzy films trying to cash in on the phenomenon, rather than treat it as it really is: a background plot of incidental, often poignant moments in the lives of most adult humans on the planet.  It's an experience, like the best and worst experiences, that can be described and compared, but never truly shared with anyone but your partner.

Right, back to cottage pie and Wallace & Gromit...
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