On that sunny day in the park, he appeared like he had it all figured out—this parenting thing. Behind him, a Mima Xari Stroller to hold his precious cargo; on his back, a leather diaper bag to carry a cashmere blankie. In his arms, the perfect baby. At his side, the perfect wife. He did something with hedge funds, she knew this for certain. She would see him every morning on the same 6:00am train as she was coming home from her hospital night shift. She was just a nurse whose scrubs were covered in vomit and viruses, but she was a good listener. And she listened to his morning phone calls, knowing he made a lot of money. It came up in his client conversations. So did his baby. And he had the perfect baby.
But as she neared them, on that sunny day in the park, she realized appearances aren’t always as they seem. She watched him, with his perfect wife at his side and his perfect baby in his arms, and she saw him for who he was.
His baby, old enough to reach for his glasses, swiped them right off of his face, whipping the spectacles in all directions, jabbing and poking his father in the eyes, the nose, the ears. Frazzled, the hedge fund father tilted his head back as his petite wife failed at her attempt to control their infant.
He looked so naked. So vulnerable. Without his sleek, black glasses, his eyes looked so small. She noticed him squinting, as if his vision was blurred. Without his glasses, he was feeble. And in that moment, as she watched that tiny, chubby baby terrorize his parents, giggling all the while, she felt sorry for that man. She saw his dignity erode. She saw his weakness exposed. She saw him for who he was: a parent completely leveled by his child—knocked to the ground by the truth that he had absolutely no control.
He was just like her. He was just like every parent. Covered in newborn spit-up. Hurt by teenage insults. Vulnerable to the whims of their children—and yet, there, nonetheless, ready to take it. Ready to let their infant smash their glasses to bits—ready to be blind for the day.
Because children have a way of demolishing egos. Of forcing humility. Of stirring doubt into even the most confident man’s mind.
She knew this. She saw that he knew it too. And in that moment, on that sunny day in the park, she realized he didn’t have it all figured out. And that made her only like him more.
There’s no going back—once you become a mother.
There’s no unseeing every child as your own.
You cannot bandage your aching heart as you watch a child in pain.
That second glass of wine will never taste as good.
You’ll never sleep soundly again.
Fireworks will send shockwaves of anxiety through your body, and local news will keep you up all night.
Your body never be the same—once firm, now soft pillow for rest.
And you won’t be able to stop a smile from tugging at your lips when you see a child learn something new.
You’ll never have dry eyes when you hear the story of a baby’s first breath, a child’s triumph over adversity.
You’ll never think twice about opening your arms to hug a child who needs a little extra love.
Because there’s no going back—once you become a mother.
And thank God for that.