Do you know what kids don’t have? Any sense of the trauma their parents went through trying to get them here.
Here, as in born. As in alive and whole.
As children of parents, we are all so fucking selfish. We don’t think about how we almost killed our mothers trying to get into this world. We don’t think about how she hemorrhaged in an overheated van while her husband went looking for help. Hemorrhaged while her other two children slept in the back, hot but oblivious.
We live our bitchy little lives, sighing and gritting our teeth over every imposition, every voice mail, every piled up email, every “When are you coming to visit again?”, completely blind to the fact that our birth was terrifying and exciting and looked forward to and feared, and we sit there smug about how big we are now, and how not like children we are, when in fact the act of saying we’re not like children is what makes us so fucking childlike.
We think of our obligations and our inconvenience and their ridiculous habits and points of view and never once question the way her body changed, the swelling, the hunger, the bills they feared, picking beans out of chili and making brown gravy even for pancakes, the sleepless nights driving round and round the block, the endless fight with doctors who don’t believe in you the way she does. The people who teach you to speak and walk and to function.
They shrug and call it parenting. I shrug and call them trouble.
The realization that I suck is as baffling as it is true. The realization that my parents will always be excited when I come to visit, that they will always look forward to getting hugs and kisses from me—me a grown-ass woman of 31. Too proud to hug and kiss. Too smart and impatient. Rushing them off the phone because I’m busy (and I am so fucking busy…but too fucking busy for the people who made me possible?).
We take our very existence for granted when our parents know how delicate and fragile a process it was getting us here. Here, as in born. As in alive and relatively whole. While we tear down the highway. While we skydive and join the military and insist on breaking our own hearts over and over again. They watch. They worry. And we scoff.
And that’s being a parent.