I used to live in a fairly large world. I lived in a couple of large cities. I went to college and grad school. I worked for one of the major advertising firms in the world. I volunteered and had friends. I read a lot and I taught at multiple different colleges.
It seemed as if all of the possibilities in all of the world were open for me. The world, as they say, was my oyster.
Now I stay home with my four girls. I write, but I don’t have a formal, full time job. All my volunteer work is done for organizations that my girls are a part of. I still read frequently but not nearly as much as I used to. I live in a tiny suburb far away from the nearest city, and most all of my driving is done between my home and three different locations.
My world, looking at it, is pretty small. I have a lot of responsibilities that tie me to my current situation and prohibit me from exploring too far outside of my family.
That’s on the outside. That’s what the world sees.
But for me, my life has never seemed richer, and my world has never seemed so large.
My oldest, Magoo, just started gymnastics a few months ago. She loves it. (And by loves it, I mean she would probably choose it over me if given the ultimatum.) She has her first showcase today. She was so excited, and she was so nervous. And we spent two hours in the gym watching her and her closest four or five dozen friends do cartwheels and round offs and swing around on the bar.
When it was over and she had received her participation ribbon, she came and sat by me. Her eyes were shining. Her legs wouldn’t stop kicking back and forth. Her smile was as wide as they come.
She gave me the smile she reserves for only me during big events in her life. The one that’s almost a secret code between the two of us. The one that is our inside story.
She told me she had been so nervous during the first two events. She wasn’t used to so many eyes on her. She said she relaxed after that. She told me it was the most fun she had had in ages. She loved that it was at night. She loved that it was looooong. She loved that people were watching. And she loved her new leotard.
And I can’t help but sit back and look at this glorious gift that this life and these girls are. That parenthood is in general.
The glory in parenting is about seeing the world open for your child. It’s about watching them step a toe out into the world and realizing that it is fun and safe and that they can stand out in that world on their own two feet. It’s about watching them realize that there doesn’t always need to be a line between them and us, that sometimes we can become a part of something great if we want to. That we don’t need to be afraid.
It’s about the way our hearts break in the best of ways when we see the innocence in our children meet up in a harsh world and realize that sometimes the innocence wins and the world stays safe and their smiles are guarded for the time being.
My world might seem smaller now than it used to. The me of twenty years ago might have actually thought that days like this would be boring.
She doesn’t know a lot though.
My world has never been larger or more beautiful.