Recently it dawned on me that I’m not alone in realizing that the level of devotion, love, intimacy and empathy one feels as a parent is so overwhelming that in many moments, your heart simply crumbles to pieces.
I used to be somewhat in the closet in regard to my emotional connection to my sons, thinking that my relationship with them was private, my love for them was private, and that my pain over their daily troubles was something I couldn’t or shouldn’t show.
And while my relationship with them is singular--that is to say, there is no way to share my exact relationship with them--I am appreciative more and more of the fact that most everyone with children is struggling to maintain a certain level of rational thought when the overriding emotional instincts of protection, pushing, guilt, anger, frustration, worry, guilt, concern, joy, pride, narcissistic glow and disappointment, (and, well, did I say guilt?) threaten to do away with our functional capabilities.
In terms of love, there is no more heartbreaking love than parenthood. Unlike romantic love, which can break your heart a few times, parenthood can literally break your heart every single day.
From watching them recover from jaundice three days after birth, to watching them wave from the school bus on the first day of kindergarten and also the friends who don’t ever call or return their calls, the grades they don’t get, the sports they can’t play, the divorces, the diseases we can’t cure, the social problems we can’t fix, the fact that we want them to be exactly who they are and we still can’t help trying to change every single thing about them, the fact that we’re not perfect for them, and that we almost never have enough time or energy; for these and a hundred thousand other reasons, our children break our hearts.
But if our hearts are continually broken, perhaps that is why you see the silly, cheesy, crazy-eyed looks on the faces of parents when their children are actually happy, tumbling, laughing, feeling great, or silently sleeping. People with broken hearts also want to cry with joy during the good times.