Being a parent can feel like living in the movie “Ground Hog Day” at times. Wake up (horrendously early), change the girls, feed them, play with them, work for nine hours, feed them, walk them, bathe them, feed them, go to bed (horrendously early). Over and over and over again.
It’s necessary, I guess. The girls need it. They have to eat, keep their temperature regulated and keep away from disease. It’s up to Coley and I to make sure of these things. So we go through the motions. Execute the routine like machines. Our flesh and bones, move like drones, all throughout the day. We’ve mastered the daily procedures with surgical precision.
To me, survival comes down to one simple thing: energy. We must pursue food and water to obtain it, sleep and regulate temperature to retain it, avoid overexertion and disease to keep it from being depleted. Most of what we do in life is done to help us with these things. For example, we pursue shelter and clothing to regulate temperature.
But life comes down to one thing too: energy. Energy is at the core of our existence. It’s the essence of the spirit and the soul. It’s the force that drives the electricity in our brains, our sole source of life. But the energy that drives life also requires that we do the same things to obtain and retain it (eat, sleep, etc.) in small repeated cycles until the universe needs it elsewhere.
To survive, we must do the same things over and over again. But to live, we must always be ready to do something different.
So, sometimes you have to use all of your energy to get out into the world. For the first six months of the girls lives, we didn’t get out much, other than for hospital visits and doctors appointments. It was tough to motivate ourselves. Every parent knows what I’m talking about. I recall saying “we are just going to keep doing everything we do today after we have the girls, we will just take them with us,” before the girls were born and I recall other parents sort of chuckling.
I honestly thought we would be different - that we wouldn’t miss a step. The truth is, you do miss steps when you become a parent. You miss hikes in the woods, strolls in the park, parties, marathons, marches, whatever it is you do. You’ll miss out on a lot, because you gained something. You miss steps to make sure your children can take theirs.
But, at some point, you have to start taking your own baby steps to get back out into the world. After you have kids, it will be harder to get out there and see the world. But the world is still out there, waiting. Its waiting for you like it always has been. And now it’s waiting for your kids too.
For every step you miss will be repaid later, with new sets of tiny footprints.
When we started to get out and about, to go to parks and parties and forests and festivals, life was even more exciting than it was before the girls were born. More challenging for sure, but more exciting. Everything was new again. Even the grocery store.
And that is the gift that children give you to pay you back for all the routine. They make the world new again. If you spend a little bit of time living in their world, not yours, you can see it all in a whole new way. When you become a parent, make sure you do that.
Each day we have the opportunity to experience the world all over again.