I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between the inside and outside perspectives of the last two weeks or so since my daughter was born.
Because from the outside looking in, my wife and I are just another couple who had a baby among the millions (or billions really) of other parents who have had babies and gone through the first few weeks of parenting exhaustion. However, from inside my life, a revolution has occurred.
On the morning of February 2nd, there were 14 other women giving birth on our floor in the hospital. From the outside, we were just one more patient, one more room for the nurses to manage, for the hospital to monitor. But inside that room, we were the only room in the hospital – the only room in the world, really – having one of the most important, consequential experiences of our lives.
We were inside of our cocoon, slowly and not so slowly, at times gently and at times with raw, feral, ferocious power bursting out of this cocoon-womb, emerging as parents, leaving behind the non-parental exoskeleton shell that no longer served us. In this new emergence, our hearts are more tender, our focus has narrowed, life’s meaning and purpose has evolved.
Inside my world, nothing short of a miracle has occurred. Yet from the outside looking in, the normal march of life has taken place for one more of your friends or acquaintances. I’m just one more dad. With one more annoying post about my baby, with more annoying baby photos, or musings on fatherhood. But inside my world, I’m a Dad! Holy sh*t, a Dad! A Father! I’m responsible for this being! She’s entirely dependent on me and her mom for life, sustenance, warmth, safety, shelter, food, and love. Me, a Father! I never even thought that would occur. Yet here I am, confronting one of the biggest fears of my life, one I fought against, resisted, and feared for years, making up lots of stories about why it wasn’t a good idea, how I didn’t like babies, etc.
Inside I’ve encountered a new kind of love, of tenderness, of wonder, of inspiration. Inside I can look at my baby’s face for hours. Inside, a family was born, where 2 weeks ago a marriage had more simply been growing.
Outside I am “taking a few weeks off work” or “I’m taking a paternity leave” or “I’m busy with the baby.” But inside I’m navigating a new life, charting an entirely new map in a very new world. I’m more exhausted than I’ve ever been, more frazzled than I’ve ever been, and more certain that the life I had before can no longer look the same, and now I must build a new template.
I knew the outside perspective well. Because I never paid much attention when my friends or acquaintances had babies. It was just another moment to quickly share some congratulations and then move on with my life. Little did I know the actual revolution that had occurred inside their lives. Little did I know the profound miracle that just erupted into their world. From the outside looking in, it seems like just another normal day in the life of a fellow human. But from the inside looking out, they had stepped through a portal into another world and were slowly becoming aware that life would never be what it was, and they couldn’t possibly be happier about that.