Yesterday was the first time I've done the Thanksgiving turkey all by myself. usually, my parents are staying with us, and my Mom helps get the bird ready. I've done it so many times that I knew what to do, but it was a lot less fun on my own. And I had to pull the bag of giblets out of the still almost frozen neck cavity, which is something my Mom usually does for me. She doesn't enjoy the task any more than I do, but she's the Mom, so she usually does it. This got me thinking about parenthood, and all of the not so much fun (and sometimes really rather disgusting things) parents do for their kids.
One of the surprising things about becoming a parent was how much more it made me appreciate my parents. I thought I was already fairly appreciative- it has been obvious to me for quite awhile that I got lucky in the parents sweepstakes. However, Pumpkin's birth has taken this appreciation to a new level, and not just because I now realize how sleep-deprived I made them. (I didn't sleep through the night until I was 18 months old. I have very bad sleep karma.)
I was born in the pre-disposable diaper age, and my parents had neither a washing machine nor a car when I was very young. My mother had to push loads of laundry to the laundromat in my older sister's stroller (while carrying my older sister). Somewhere around the 500th diaper I changed, I started to really understand how much work I was.
In my family, we all tease my father for being a bit of a worrywart. I still tease him, but I understand this instinct now, and can recognize it in myself. You don't really understand worry until you have a child to worry about. I started to understand this while I was pregnant, and would find myself worrying about whether or not Pumpkin would be healthy. I thought things would get better once she was born, but in fact, the worries have only grown as I realize all of the things that could go wrong and deprive me of my beautiful daughter or deprive my daughter of her full share of happiness.
I have also come to better understand the responsibility a parent feels. Each decision I make feels so important. If I choose the wrong option, will Pumpkin's development be slowed? I have always considered myself to be a decisive person (and my family will agree with this- I'm the one they take along on shopping trips if they want to be sure to buy something). But I find myself partially paralyzed by parenting decisions. I research and read and agonize, and feel like I need to find the right answer, not just an acceptable answer. I have always thought my parents made some very good decisions in how they raised me, but I never understood how hard this was, and how they probably didn't know at the time whether they were making the right decision or not. One of the problems with parenting decisions is that you have to wait so long to find out whether you were right.
So this thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful primarily for my family. My amazing daughter. My husband, who is also a great father. My parents and parents-in-law, who are making wonderful grandparents. My sister and sister-in-law, who are both terrific Aunties. And the entire extended family, all of whom have welcomed Pumpkin with so much love.