And I'm not just talking about the whole intensity of labor and delivery, although, WOW! That was some pretty life- (and body-) changing stuff.
I'm talking about sustained intensity.
The long nights with infants, for example, were longer and more trying than I could have ever imagined, while the constant messes are more constant than I would prefer and the temper tantrums more maddening than I thought possible.
By the same token, the depth of my love and devotion to my children -- step in front of an approaching wild animal to protect them? No problem. Is that all you got? -- is in reality more profound than I ever could have anticipated. Sometimes it takes me by surprise just how full they've made my life, and how eerily different -- even two-dimensional by comparison -- it now seems before they arrived.
Some of the things about parenthood I've looked forward to since I was a child myself, being parented by others. Specific things, like taking them to the beach, watching baseball games, and hearing them tell me about school, have been just what I thought they would be: magical in their momentousness.
And school pageants.
I'm one of those people who just LOVES watching kids perform in school singalongs, plays, talent shows, chorus recitals, etc. You name it. What sounds to many like a front-row, folding-chair seat in Hell is a high point of spectator joy for me. And the more flubs and mistakes the better, I say. I adore the earnest attempt at showmanship, regardless of the results.
Something about the sound of small children singing in unison makes me think of hope.
So you can probably understand why I was a little frustrated last year when my firstborn child passed on the opportunity to perform in his Very First School Holiday Performance.
And you'll be able to understand how fulfilling it was to watch him, a year older and more confident, join his classmates at the front of the chapel to perform a nativity scene and sing holiday carols this year.
It was just as good as I always knew it would be.