There are a lot of things that they don't tell you when you start out on this journey known as parenthood. They don't tell you that, from the moment they place that tiny baby in your arms, you're going to worry. Oh, you may naturally assume that you will have cause to worry here and there along the way-are they getting enough to eat? Are they ever going to sleep through the night? Oh, my god, the baby didn't make a peep last night, did she stop breathing? Will he ever stop dragging that blanket along behind him?
As they grow, you may think that you'll worry about them starting school, making friends, making good choices, and on and on, and, you will be correct; you'll spend eighteen years holding your breath and conducting fervently whispered negotiations with God about all of those things and more.
Once they reach that magical-and mystical- stage known as young adulthood, you may think you can breath a sigh of relief; your work is done! You raised them! They're ready to fly the nest, to strike out on their own! But, this is where the best-kept secret of parenting comes along to bite you in the butt, for, you see, it doesn't matter that they are fully legally capable of signing a lease, buying a car, getting a mortgage, drinking a beer, serving their country, etc., etc., etc.
You're still going to worry.
And, the worries take on a particularly sharp edge, because, at eighteen, nineteen, twenty-one, two, three, infinity...you are powerless to provide comfort in the way that you excelled at when they were infants and toddlers. You can't simply slap a band-aid on a broken heart, kiss it, make it better. Whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies won't soothe the ache of loss like it it used to, and, your baby is now far too big to cradle into your lap while crooning a lullaby, which, wouldn't help anyway, because, there is no rocking chair in the world big enough to rock away grief.
I wish there were; God, do I wish there were.
Of course, if you knew about this, if you knew that you were signing up for an entire lifetime of allowing your heart to walk about independently of your body, unprotected and vulnerable to the harsh realities of the world, you might think twice before jumping into the fray. And, that simply would not do; the human race rather depends on parents entering into this job after all.
So, we go into it with blind faith, solving the problems we can solve, providing comfort when-and, where-it is accepted, and, praying that we get it right.
But, man, do we still worry.