It's fascinating how the emotions experienced during parenting are typically similar to any other experience, and yet not.
For example, I've experienced the beauty of waking up early to watch the sunrise. As I rub my eyes, bare feet smarting as I step through the cold dew on the ground, my heart leaping with anticipation, I watch the sun glitter through the trees and announce the day. That's anticipation. That's beauty. That's wonder.
And yet, somehow, it's different when you're lying on the same grass one day. Perfectly still, holding your breath, as you watch your baby begin to kick and wiggle, finally crawling, his efforts filled with grunts as he strains to enact his own will over his movements. Your heart leaps, yes, but in a different way. It's anticipation, beauty, and wonder, but so much more that can't be explained.
I've walked through countless museums and traveled afar to see amazing art. The paintings are detailed beyond anything I could ever replicate. I've learned about great artists and their idiosyncrasies, studied their works and felt inspired by them. It's a feeling of enlightenment, introduction into human depths, inspiration to expand my humanity to the broadest point.
And yet, somehow, all of those magnificent works of art look faded against the tapestry my 3 year old proudly displays. Somehow, her crumpled paper featuring a stick figure with roped hair and a taller stick figure with a stick figure baby in the tummy outshines any Picasso, any Dürer. I grin wildly, unable to hold back my delight as I read the carefully written "M O M" and matching heart. "It's you and me, Mom. Because I love you." I could sit in rapt wonder and stare at that piece of art every day. It contains the deepest and broadest points of humanity if you only look hard enough.
I've explored the ocean's cities. Diving down with friends and family, I've carefully invited myself to coral reef systems brimming with activity and color. I've stared in dark silence, only the bubbles from my tank breaking the memory cast, as I tried to take in all the sights of these hidden communities. It's a humbling sensation, to gently insert my presence into this watery world.
And yet, somehow, my breath catches more when I'm kneeling in the birth pool, watching the ecstatic energy of life explode into the water. Somehow, that contradictory silence feels thicker and never ending, as my husband humbly kneels by my side and bears witness to the activity of bringing life into the world.
It's really hard to explain. All these emotions are normal, every day occurrences. I'm not the first to feel them and I won't be the last. And yet, they touch somewhere deep, somewhere permanent, a place more human than the most human experiences we discuss and love. These moments etch a scar upon my heart the way light burns a mark in the darkness.
It's a sunrise of the heart.
If only we wake up soon enough to see it.