I think it's fair to say that one of the things most people live the most for is love. (You wouldn't know it by looking at social media.) Before you have a kid, it's all first kisses to getting married and having anniversaries. Once you're a parent, you're introduced to a new kind of love that is completely different, and significantly more intense.
Simon is almost 8, and on most days I can't wait to give him a squeeze and talk to him about whatever it is he wants to talk about. I'm completely horrified that he's not the tiny little boy I could put on my shoulders and carry around anymore, and equally horrified that he now has opinions. He has some additional challenges, specifically with the ASD and ADHD, which adds to the stress. All anyone really wants is for their kid to grow up happy and be functional. I don't have many doubts about his success, and that's mostly because he has an excellent mother.
Still, I struggle. When I was a kid, it seemed like most adults were trying hard to limit my time using computers or playing video games, and I find myself doing the same thing to Simon. I never know what the right level of accommodation is for him when he struggles with something, and I have internal battles about letting him struggle or giving him an easy way out. When I do lean toward the struggle, I almost always feel like a dick, even though I know he needs to have that experience. I get impatient with him when he can't stay on task, which I know is sometimes because of the way he's wired. I get super pissed when he starts yelling at us over something relatively unimportant, and I respond by yelling back at him, which is totally counterproductive.
At the end of the day, Simon still loves me, and I'm grateful for that, but I know the impact that parenting has on a child. I've found it hard to change and get over my own flaws rooted in childhood experiences, and that's not lost on me now that it's my turn. It's exhausting. The weird thing is that I can't imagine life without that love now. Indeed, sometimes you don't appreciate the joy without the struggle.