It hit me this morning, the perfect word about raising kids. In fact, I think this word was made to describe the experience of raising kids.
In that first moment, when you hold your first baby in your arms, wonder overwhelms you. Look at the little toes! The pink, squashed cheeks! The tiny swirl of hair! It is completely amazing that this...person...grew inside you, and is real.
And the sense of wonder really doesn't stop. You hang over her, entranced, as she sleeps. Breathing! Snoring! Then as she takes her first steps, toddling straight into your arms. As she says her first word. As she writes her own name. As she goes to school, as she learns to swim. If you're anything like me, you're constantly struck by how cool, how wondrous, all of these achievements are, day by day.
But there's the other kind of wonder too, and that's an equally huge part of being a parent.
I wonder what she'll be when she grows up?
I wonder if she'll like to read, like me?
I wonder what she's doing at school today?
I wonder how she can behave like that, when we've had this discussion before?
I wonder if I'm doing the right thing?
When I signed up for being a parent, I hadn't realized there'd be so much uncertainty, so much doubt. Sure, there are all the jokes about wishing they'd come with a manual, and the sober advice that they're all different, and you have to make up new rules for each one. But I had no idea that I'd constantly be wondering if I was making the right choices, doing enough, saying the right thing. Or worrying about her even when she's not with me (especially when she's not with me).
I'm not really looking forward to the teenage years, when my central worry might be "I wonder where she is right now?". Fortunately, I also expect there will still be some of that other kind of wonder--the amazement kind, at what an awesome kid I'm raising--to balance it out.