Each new step as a parent gives me new perspective on what it means to raise a child, what it meant for my parents before me. I think about all of the things I am, outside of a mother. All the parts of me that existed before his birth, the things I'm good at or interested in or passionate about. I think, I wonder what my parents were like before they had us. I wonder what they wanted or sacrificed in order to raise us. They were young, creative people too, and they had their own thoughts and feelings about their world.
As a child, this never occurred to me. My life was a fairly uncomplicated place filled with wonder and curiosity and my parents were sort of the referees, the bumpers in beginner's bowling. They were the guidelines for my own adventures, but I never thought about what adventures they wanted, all the things that were different for them because of us.
Watching my son smile up at me with complete innocence and joy, I realize that's how it's supposed to be. That is the sacrifice that parents make, the decision they choose, to keep every other potential timeline quietly tucked away, because children shouldn't know all the things their parents are not because of them. They should just be children. They should experience wonder without guilt, without someone else's baggage pulling on their already fragile lives.
In time, we come to see our parents as more complete people, to realize their complexities, to appreciate their own dreams, the ones that changed when we arrived. But it's not for children to know that the kaleidoscope we look through shows a much different image than it did when we were their age. We need to show them beauty with every twist and turn that life has to offer. In reminding myself of this responsibility to my son and to my unborn child, I am sure of one thing. That beauty we must show is always there, it is never out of reach. The kaleidoscope turns, the picture changes, but it is always beautiful.