The note read “Your child is a ‘toy’. Options include dressing up as an animal, a doll or a toy soldier.” Right. Of course it’s about costumes and school plays but I could not help chuckling as I read that first sentence.

Child, toy. It made me think of the days when Tony was about to be born and all I could think was “I’ll finally get to hold the most amazing doll of all…” Talk about a little girl’s dreams coming true.

Sweet noises and softness. Holding my breath as I’m holding my “dolls” for the first time. The tiny clothing that seemed so tiny yet they somehow still manage to get lost in it. The wonder of realizing how fragile the beginning of a human being is.

Babies don’t come with a manual, of course they don’t. They don’t so we can write one anew while rewriting ours. Rediscovering ourselves as we go, reinventing ways to get ourselves out of those deep dark holes, holding onto the strong threads that stretch from their hearts to ours.

Beautiful days and wild aching ones. Writing our common manual. How to function as a parent. Breathe. Write. Rewrite. Edit. Repeat. Never say “Oh I get it now” because that irreverence is punished in a most subtle way.

Saying “I get it” is akin to standing under the shower and having an invisible wicked hand turn on the cold water faucet. There’s nothing elegant in getting flushed like that, but once you get past the necessary humbleness of the moment – whether you are the only witness or there’s a cohort of them – then you’ve earned the right to do some more editing. Proceed with caution.

The best parenting piece of advice I ever got was “close all books and look at your child. No one knows him/her better than you do. Trust your instinct.”

Right. Now where was that instinct thing again? Oh, is it the one that looked like nobody’s puppy, all bedraggled by the many rains that come upon the new parent? The one that put its tail between the legs and yelped its way out of there because you flailed your arms and said no, I can’t trust you? Yep, that one. Well, it went somewhere to seek shelter, find some food and hopefully grow. And then it will return, it will. If you trust that it will, and if you promise not to flinch and send it away again.

A new human being is an awe-inspiring little thing left on your soul step. With a note. And the note reads: Your child is not a toy. Proceed with caution. Dance if you want to, cry if you have to, laugh your heart out and celebrate. Be grateful. Never forget to be grateful. Oh, and don’t forget to play. Because your child will sometimes think of you as a toy. He/she might consider you the best toy of all.