ParenthoodA lot of readers ask me questions about being a parent. They want to know things like what it's like being a Dad.
I read a lot of books about being a Dad before my daughter was born.
Now, I read those books because Susan threatened to cut off very sensitive, very important body parts if I didn't, but it still counts.
Do you know what I learned from reading those books?
Parenting books are complete and utter bullshit.
They tell you that being a parent is a magical experience that will change your life forever.
They were half right.
People think being a parent is defined by those moments that pull at your heart. Seeing your child sleeping. Teaching them a new skill. Helping them when they are hurt.
That is crap.
Parenthood is not defined by any of that.
Seeing a sleeping child. Anyone would find a moment like that inspiring. Being a parent doesn't suddenly make that experience suddenly more important.
Anyone who tells you different is lying.
Teaching a child a new skill. Well, that's the definition of a teacher, not a parent. While you may feel a sense of accomplishment, it doesn't make you feel more like a parent.
Helping them when they are hurt. That's not being a parent. That's not wanting to get arrested for child neglect.
No, there is one moment that truly defines being a parent, one moment that embodies parenthood.
That moment occurs at 4:17 am.
That moment occurs when you are standing bleary-eyed over your child's bed.
That moment occurs when they tell you they woke you up screaming because someone named Darwin was coming to get them.
At that exact moment, you will want to calmly reassure them that nothing is wrong and gently lull them back to sleep.
By which I mean, you will want to smother them with a pillow.
It's right there.
At 4:17 am, this actually seems like a viable option to you. Not just viable, but justified.
Parenthood is defined by that moment where you want to smother them, but don't.
All of that other stuff anyone can do.
That 4:17 am moments... That's what makes a parent.
I know this because at exactly 4:17 am, my daughter started screaming.
I quickly rush to her, staggering about the house, trying to collect my wits. Obviously, screaming like this must mean she is seriously injured or being kidnapped by a European human trafficking ring and I am going to have to kill hundreds of people until I find her.
Exhausted, both mentally and physically, I burst into her room and hurried to her side. I immediately asked her what was wrong.
Through tears and sobs, she said:
Daughter>> There... Was...
Daughter>> Darwin was chasing me.
Daughter>> He was gonna get me.
Oh, a bad dream.
I'm up at 4:17 am because she had a bad dream.
At 8 or 9 am, this isn't such a bad thing. You console her and try and make her feel better.
At 4:17 am though...
That pillow looked like a really good idea.
Parenthood is all about those moments. Those moments when you could, but you don't.
I'm glad to say that this morning, I am still a parent.