Sorrow // The surprising emotion of parenthood

Recently my friend asked if I hated Lewie’s future wife. Yes, was my first response. But after a little consideration, no–it’s not some future person that I dread, especially if that someone truly loves my child, it is the inevitable passage of time that I dread. With every new and wondrous stage means the loss of another stage.  Mourning is an inescapable part of parenthood. There’s an indescribable joy, but it is the mourning that has surprised me.

When we first discovered that we were pregnant, there was an unwritten expectation to be happy. We had been married for six years and were in our late 20’s, a child was the natural next step.

And we were happy, but there was so many other emotions mixed in–fear, anxiety, and sorrow. Sorrow for the loss of us as a couple.

And the loss of our independence, especially for my husband. And the loss of alone time, especially for me. Of course these things are not completely gone, but they are not simply there for the taking. They require planning and safe-guarding, so then there is another loss–the loss of spontaneity.

Our good friends gave us the wise advice to mourn these things.So in addition to all the talking about the baby, we talked about those things we were going to miss. And we took spontaneous weekend trips together–Joshua Tree, San Diego, Mexico. And we went to the movies in the middle of the afternoon. And we took long night walks around the neighborhood.

And then at some point, around the third trimester, we were ready for this baby.

LewisBW-6

And a little over a year later, I am surprised to feel mourning again, this time the loss of infancy.

Lewie is running into toddlerhood. He’s inherited his father’s independent and wildness, along with my temper, plus traits unique to him. And while I love watching his spirit grow, I am also mourning the loss of complete innocence and dependency. Today was the first day he didn’t cry when dropped off at daycare–a moment of celebration and also sweet sadness.

I know this is just the start. Soon it will be the first day of kindergarten, then into adolescence, graduation from high school and probably college, and maybe marriage and children, and now we’re back to where we began.

Is there anything more joyous than watching a child grow? There’s a reason that a baby taking his first steps is an iconic moment parents desperately try to capture on film.

But it’s also sorrowful because they are one step closer to adulthood, and every new step is a step towards independence and away from you.

Yet a part of my heart is in Lewie. We’re forever connected, or as E.E. Cummings said “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)”.

Photos // Lily Glass Photography

8 Comments

  1. John Carpenter

    Kait (it still sounds strange), I have always so enjoyed your quiet thoughtfulness, and, of course, your writing. It is exciting to think of you as a mother! Parenting, as a process, is the definition of bittersweet. My two oldest sons have now graduated from college, are married, working and going to graduate school, my daughter, Katherine, graduates from Bryan in the spring, and the baby of the family is now 6’2″ and a high school senior. Yes, parenting is both joyful and sorrowful, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    1. Kait McGuire

      Kaity is a name now reserved for close friends and family and I love when I hear it, so please call me Kaity if you want. I cannot believe that Katherine is graduating! And that you’re own baby boy is 6’2′! I know that will be Lewie one day sooner than I want–he’s already 99 percentile in height. We grow them tall apparently. Thanks for your kind words about my writing. I consider it high praise coming from you.

      xoxo

      1. John Carpenter

        Then, Kaity, I am so glad you are still writing. For you, more than most, your writing is a window into your soul and a very personal experience. I’m glad you are willing to share it with us.

        As for Lewie, I don’t think that the poor boy has any choice but to be tall and beautiful, considering his parentage. 😉

  2. Amber R.

    I love this post, so so true! I always say being a parent is simultaneously the BEST and WORST job for this exact reason. My son will be 7 this year and I just try to soak up every moment because it’s all going so quickly!

    1. Kait McGuire

      Thanks for the kind words! You’re right it is the best and the worst. (And the scariest, and most exciting and heart-wrenching and all the other emotions in the world!)

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