“Once you’re a parent, you’re the ghost of your children’s future.”
I’ve come across this quote a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. If you’ve seen Interstellar, you know this idea is taken somewhat literally. I haven’t seen the movie since becoming a dad, and Lord, I think it would wreck me.
Which, of course, means I must watch it soon, because I’m a sucker that way.
I was feeling this hard tonight as I was spending time with Harrison. It’s a Friday night. Betsy is at a community healing circle event, something she does three or four times a year. She acts like it’s huge inconvenience that she goes out and treats herself like this, even as I work frequently odd hours and am often holed in our bedroom doing podcasting stuff.
The little guy and I were playing on the living room floor after dinner, me watching him push one of his toy trains along the floor, his head down on the floor level with it, watching the train as he slowly dragged it across the rug.
As he gets older, becoming more a toddler, not an infant, more memories of my own at that young age are springing up. Nothing significant, really, just memories of playing around the house with my family. Remembering those occasional nights when the routine wasn’t the same as always – dad was working late, or I got to stay up later. I didn’t quite have words yet, but those nights were special.
I’ve noted before how I often have a hard time being in the present moment with my family, worried about work. I found myself not present tonight, but in a different way. I was floating outside the moment, watching it as Harrison might remember it and other moments like it some day, perhaps years after I’m gone.
Watching the moment, in a way, as a ghost of my future self.
The thought is saddening and awe-inspiring at once.
We wound down the rest of the night with a bath, and our usual bedtime ritual, at least the usual when Mommy’s not home. He was fussy when I put his fresh diaper on him, trying to pull it off. I couldn’t figure out what exactly he was unhappy about, but I took the diaper off, made a show of throwing out the offensive item, and ran the hair dryer over his body for a couple of minutes, and that relaxed him enough to restart business as usual.
After story time (which isn’t so much reading him stories as it is him pulling books one-by-one of his shelf, “reading” one, replacing it, and picking another, I picked up to give him one last cuddle before bed, and he laid his head on my shoulder as he does, but then he pulled back, put a hand on either one of my shoulders and gave me a huge smile, as if he were just noticing I was the one holding him.
That kid. He’s something special.