Talking to our neighbors Jonathan and Erin tonight about their move to a bigger house -- they now have two small children and want another -- we exchanged comments about how acquaintances without children frequently can't understand the reality of our parental lives. It was the sort of conversation you have with people you don't have much in common with besides
parenting. I participated willingly, but felt guilty afterwards.
Is the divide between couples with children and couples without children really that absolute?
I don't want it to be. But I do sometimes look back on our pre-Skylar years like a person trying to imagine a time before Christianity. It's so hard to put aside the reflexes that spring up when you become a parent: the alertness to danger, the need to put on a façade for one's child, even the facility for coordinating loads that you would once have dropped in seconds.
Take this picture for example. It captures Kim on a Seattle bridge during our July, 1996 vacation centered on a week of backpacking excursions in Olympic National Park. As Dan correctly pointed out, you can see the snow-covered Olympic Mountains in the distance.
As I examine the image, though, I can't fully indulge my nostalgia. There's a voice inside my head saying, "Where's Skylar?" It makes me sad to think that she wasn't there with us.
I realize that must sound absurd. But that's what parenting does to you. It reshapes the past until it matches up with the present.