I feel like I'm 16, getting my license, going out with my friends, having a little freedom. I feel like I'm 18 starting college and living away from home for the first time. I feel like I'm 22 and starting my first job. I feel like I'm 24 and moving to Alaska where I know no one. I feel like I'm 29 and getting married. I don't feel like a parent.
To kids, parents are omniscient and almost God-like, unless they're telling you you can't drive to your friend's house in a snow storm. They're the ones who take you to the doctor and make you eat your vegetables. They come to your swim meets and soccer games. They keep you clothed and fed and teach you good morals.
Now that's me. I keep my kids clothed and fed. Make sure he eats his vegetables (or drinks his formula, as is the case for the newborn). I take them to the doctor and when they're old enough, I'll go to their soccer games and swim meets. I take them to church and try to instill good morals.
But I still feel like me. I don't feel like a parent. I feel like I'm 16 or 18 or 24. When do you start feeling like an adult? When do you start feeling like a parent? I worry. Does that make me a parent? I take them to the doctor when they're sick. Does that make me a parent? I hold them when they fall and hurt themselves or slam their fingers in a drawer. Does that make me a parent? I read stories to them and play with them. Does that make me a parent? Simply having kids doesn't make you a parent.
A home health nurse visited my house after my second was born. She asked me, "How did you learn how to be a parent?" I replied, "I just did it." The baby came. I had to be a parent. The truth is, I am a parent. Now I'm just waiting to feel like it.