Tonight, as I was dual-wielding my 1-year old daughter Lys as she was supposed to fall asleep, yes, I was holding both of her hands, at her request, I suppose it gives that extra 60% of comfort or something, I got thinking about the transformative experience it is to have small children.
I think that the experience eventually wears off, although I would assume some residuals are always left. But I can't say for sure yet. Lys will be 2 years old this February but she isn't our latest child, unless you only count born children.
For me, the transformation is mostly about accept, of my own situation and that of my children.
For instance, I can't control even basic necessities in my life - like sleep. Not if I am to take care of my children. The moment I might need sleep the most, I may not sleep well for next week if one of them is ill. That's just the way it is.
But that part is sort of trivial. Much more interesting is the uncontrollable human situation.
An example is hurting people. Let me start with myself: as I held my daughters hands tonight, it struck me that I'm inadvertently hurting my children all the time. Why?
Well, it's just impossible not to. Physically, it's like a human in an elephant house in a zoo, the difference in size is just so big that the small party is going to take a hit sometimes. I going to trample a toe or scratch an arm when I swing them around giggling.
But also emotionally, it's just so hard to understand where small children are, and I don't always have the time or concentration or mood to even try to be there. And as is obvious with three children, sometimes someone has to let it go. We can discuss and think about priorities and what's the greater good when we find ourselves in a conflict, but in the end someone must chose a path. That's just the way it is.
But it gets worse. There are so many ways to hurt other people, to be mean to them. I have yet to see a child who doesn't occasionally try out most of the obvious ones. And despite my children being, in my opinion, generally lovely, lively and relatively reasonable, they have too.
I try not to let them get away with it, but I don't control them. You can't control other people, and my children are definitely, albeit still in a small manner, people. Nor should I. Talk is cheap, leading by example is not. They need to understand and choose for themselves.
So, as I parent, I will watch them be mean to each other and to other children and vice versa. That's just the way it is.
For me, the transformative part comes about because of force. Before being a parent, there are many aspects in life where I could maintain an idea of how things should be, possibly an illusion, but still. But it's no longer about me, only, and I find myself being forced into accepting things that I don't, at the outset, like.
In this accept, I've started to see some things that I haven't understood before, not only in small people.
You can't accept something without putting preconceived notions or what I think of as morality aside. Morality, even if well-founded, like the pretty obvious idea that you should never hurt others, is really one-sided in its emotional nature. Once morality enters, it calls for an immediate action, clouding cool judgement. So X hit Y. Shame on X!
Now my examples may have been somewhat dramatic, but honestly I don't think those are terribly deep. I may witness a child of mine being mean, but I'm not going to like it and will try to find a reason behind and do something about that.
What I have accepted is that this is human nature. And this accept of the human nature has opened some doors for me in much deeper territory.
I'm finding it easier to read about politics (and send an occasional email to a party), to understand and learn from the Waldorf kindergarten and school that we've ended up sending our children to, to work with people.
How much is visible from the outside, I don't know, probably I'm just tired and grumpy. But it feels different.