Two Lessons In Parental Bittersweetness

Our family visited a theme park this Saturday. I captured the trip on film, but shortly afterwards lost said pictures when the trolls living in my computer managed to run off with the precious data. I am resigned now to capturing it with words because I was struck with two powerful realizations that I don’t want to lose.

It was the first time visiting a theme park as a parent. Walking into the park, anticipation was building for all the rides we (adults) wanted to experience. But as the day wore on, it became readily apparent that those experiences were not to be, not with children in tow. So the first realization was that parental sacrifice could be sweet. I’ve experienced it before; but it was never quite as palpable as now, as I gave up what I wanted so my son could have joy.

The second realization was that my son is an independent being. I’m not sure I can capture this concept fully in words, but those who have been parents will understand it well. When I put him on the kids-only ride, belted him in and walked away, the metaphor just about knocked me down. He smiled and laughed during the ride and cried when it was over. The joy and laughter on his face was something of his own, something that I had very little part in other than as bystander.

Bittersweetness… giving up personal pleasure for the greater joy of my son; losing control for the greater independence of my son.

Freewrite #11