This week, my friend Grant's family was in town from Kansas City to celebrate his college graduation. On Monday, they invited us to spend the day on the beach. While other family members kept an eye on the older kids, Grant's Mom Connie volunteered to look after Ashton while I hit the waves.
It was a beautiful day - sunny and warm. The waves were not big, but they were big enough. There was a strong rip current, but otherwise conditions were perfect.
Even though I could see that Connie was a watchful grandma, I kept checking on her and Ashton from my location in the water. Due to Ashton's new red hat, they were easy to spot.
As I watched them, it occurred to me that it was due to Connie that I was surfing. And it occurred to me that, as a mother, it is only due to other people that I am able to do anything. And that is because, as a mother, I am not only responsible for myself but for other people as well.
And because I am responsible for those others, I am essentially, no longer an individual. I may inhabit one body, but I am no longer "one."
So much of my conflict as a parent has stemmed from my insistence that I am still an individual. So much of the conflict I think so many parents experience stems from the fact that our society, our culture, expects all people - each of whom inhabits only one body - to be an individual when, in fact, many of us are not. When in fact, none of us are, though for some of us - estranged from family, estranged from community, "single", childless - it may be easier to deny.
The realization that a statement like "we are all one" is neither metaphor, nor abstract ideal, has, frankly, blown my mind. Previously, I'd thought it was something a person "gets" when on acid, or ecstasy, or once they have achieved enlightenment. It was never something I thought I'd grasp from simply standing in chest high waves on Venice Beach.