I used to judge (especially before Rory was born)…
When I’d see a parent taking selfie after shameless selfie with their kid at the park or the museum or wherever, I’d roll my eyes.
Seriously, I’d have a visceral reaction in opposition of such behavior, for some reason.
But now that I’ve been a dad for some years, things have changed. It struck me just the other day as I was pushing Rory on the swing at the park. There I was in my swing-pushing trance (no, I was not texting and pushing — I’m working on being present, okay?), and I looked over to see a mom sitting in the swing beside us with her one(ish)-year-old-daughter in her lap taking selfie after shining selfie.
And then I looked over and saw the dad, who was playing with their other kid (slightly older) on the slide before — snap — he too took a selfie with that kid.
What struck me was that my eyes weren’t rolling. And it caught me. Like, I should be judging right now. Their incessant selfie-taking is kind of obnoxious, but I’m somehow totally fine with it. What’s going on here?…
Maybe it’s the fact that, after five years of parenthood, I now see that those selfies are like little minor withdrawals from the chock-full, bursting-at-the-seams emotional/spiritual bank account of being a parent.
Not that this isn’t obvious, but being a parent (especially one who cares) is really hard work. In fact, the parents I’m writing about were talking about how they only slept two hours the night before, yadda yadda yadda.
It ages you in a deep way. I look at pictures of me now vs. six years ago and I see how my eyes currently always look tired. My laugh lines are there even when I’m not laughing. I’m starting to get really lame — in general — and say stuff that my dad used to say that I promised myself I’d never say. I move through the world with an underlying sense of dread and fear and self-questioning about the world my daughter is growing up in both at home and in the world at large.
It’s a brutal, twisted, emotionally masochistic and existentially hellish undertaking that’s also logic-defyingly enriching and enlivening at the very. same. time.
If taking a harmless selfie or fourteen at the park with the little soul you’re shepherding into this world makes you smile, gives you joy, keeps you going and provides you a little something to show for your work — I say, hell yes, Mom and Dad. Take those selfies.
Take selfies all damn day.
Just, as you scroll through your pics when you get home, ignore all those people in the background rolling their eyes at you.
They have no idea.