"Bruce is very smart. He wanted a family, he wanted a relationship, and he worked really, really, really hard at it -- as hard as he works at his music."
That is how Bruce Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa, described her husband and his role as a father of three all-but-grown children in David Remnick's illuminative story in the New Yorker last week.
I'm thinking it could apply -- or should apply -- to many of us.
The particulars of Springsteen's "really, really, really hard" work are far from typical, of course. Raised by an abusive, likely bipolar father and suffering from bouts of severe depression, he channeled much of that pain into four decades of legendary music.
But the journey that Scialfa describes is universal. Doesn't every parent, in his or her own way, have to adjust from being the lone wolf into part of a pack, putting others ahead of ourselves. Isn't that exactly what becoming a parent is?
Some say the experience is natural, instinctive. The moment a child is born, everything shifts and new priorities and roles make themselves clear. More common is a version of Springsteen's transformation -- maybe we haven't all worked "really, really, really hard," but we certainly face moments where we chafe at new responsibility, or want to hide from the white-hot intensity of emotion, or wish, however briefly, that it was just us once again.
For those who feel that way, hearing that others do too -- that even Bruce Springsteen does -- can be reassuring. As with everything else, talking about the gritty reality of parenting is better than papering it away with platitudes.