Monday, November 9, 2009

What makes a parent?

Is it the fact that you contributed biologically to the creation of a new life?

Is it that you were there when your child(ren) were born?

Is it that you are the one who originally instructed your child(ren) that your appropriate term of address was "Mommy" or "Daddy"?


Is it when you took in three small girls when they needed someone, reprioritizing your life forever?

Is it that you cried yourself on a daily basis for weeks, because your little nieces were scared, you knew it, you were scared too, and you couldn't fix it and hated that?

Is it when your fridge became less full of "adult" food and more full of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese leftovers, and enough jelly and bread to shake a stick at because the children like PB&J and so that's what you fix?

Is it when you set your alarm for 2 a.m. because your youngest has been so sick, and the fever's been spiking when the ibuprofen wears off, and 2 a.m. is when the last dose is set to wear off? Is it when you check the others' temps too, just to be sure they're okay?

Is it when you set your computer aside because your middlest cheerfully announced, "I want to cuwl youw haiwr, Auntie J!"?

Is it when you spend the morning failing miserably at the job you're paid to do, because your poor sick little girl wants nothing more than to snuggle in your arms?

Is it when you shed both happy and sad tears as you watch your oldest happily get on the bus for her first day of Pre-K?

Is it when you read the same story for bedtime, every night, and you don't even need to look at the pages because you have it memorized, because it's the girls' favorite?

Is it when you console your youngest when the small dachshund she saw thirty feet away absolutely petrified her?

Is it when you scour the Internet, looking for duplicates of your middlest's duckie, that she just can't live without but manages to keep losing? And you buy (ultimately) eight of them?

Is it when you "let" them have lunch with you in the bathroom simply because YOU required the use of that room?

Is it when they're scared in the middle of the night and you let them sleep in your bed?

Is it when your heart breaks as the youngest cries for more juice, but you have to say no because she just threw up?

Is it when you're sick as a dog yourself, but they're sick too and so you care for them anyway?

Is it when you let them kiss you on the lips when they're sick, because they love you, even though you know it'll get you sick, too?

Is it when you take pictures of your oldest after she colored herself blue with your highlighter before you wash her off?

Is it when you fight back tears after watching your youngest--terrified for so long of big, curvy slides--go down the biggest, curviest slide at the park, all by herself, with zero prompting or encouragement on your part?

Is it when you have scowling "wars" with your middlest, just to get her to smile?

Is it when you rejoice outwardly that your youngest doesn't need to cling to you like a leech in the pool anymore because she's no longer scared of the water and yet inside you're crying a little because she doesn't need you for that one little thing anymore?

Is it when you check on them at night, and smile because the oldest is comfortable, the middlest has turned herself around in bed, and the youngest has kicked off her covers...and you right things for everyone before you go to bed?

Is it when you listen intently in the middle of the night because you thought you heard someone whimper?

Is it when you fight like crazy to protect them, even from those who aren't supposed to put them in danger, and you feel your heart break in the process yet you know in your heart it's the right thing? Simply because little girls should never have to wonder where their next meal is or if they're loved?

Is it when you praise your children's successes, give them "special bandaids" for their imaginary boo-boos, hold them when they cry, care for them when they're sick, comfort them after bad dreams, make their favorite lunches, encourage them after a setback, and love them like crazy?

Or is it all biology?

Somehow, I can't believe that it is.

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