February 17, 2007

Creation Myths

Before your first child is born, if you are like most of us, you tell yourself lies.

You say, "We won’t change our lives."
You say, "We’ll won’t be like those other parents."
You say, "We won’t be like our parents."

But of course your lives change. Of course you’re like those other parents, obsessing over every burp and gurgle. And maybe not initially, but after a bit, you find yourself doing and saying things that remind you of your own parents. That much is inevitable. It happens to everybody.

When preparing for the first you have this illusion that you can make things perfect, or almost perfect. "If I just plan everything in advance," you think... So you buy too much gear, you paint and prep and read too many baby books. You develop plans to avoid the sleep deprivation everyone talks about.

And then the kid arrives and those first few weeks almost kill you because while your kid is booting up all his systems nothing goes according to plan. Nothing happens the way it’s "supposed to". There is always some crisis you can’t solve. There are never enough hands around to help and of course, you never get enough sleep. Your life changes, fundamentally and irrevocably.

And then, if you are like many of us, after about eighteen months or so you start having so much fun, you forget those first hard months and go for a second. During the second pregnancy you are so busy with the first child so you don’t think about the pregnancy much at all. You don’t plan or read books, it just kind of progresses on it’s own until the last few weeks when you realize "holy cow we’re having a another whole kid" and fear begins to creep over you as you remember those first hard weeks. "We’re not ready yet, we need more time. How did 9 months pass?" you ask yourself. You worry about how the first child will accept the second. You worry that you won’t have enough time for the second, and you worry about how life will change again just as you were starting to figure things out and become yourselves again. But there a line of thought that provides deep comfort at what lies ahead, "Things will not be perfect. We’ll fail just as we did before. It’s going to be hard. We’re not going to sleep. Nothing will go as planned. But everything will be ok. Just as we did the first time we’ll ride things out. Make things up. Break a few rules, and it will all be just fine. We know it will."
. . . . .
p.s. This evening Jenn turned to me and said, 'We can't have this baby yet, we still have too much to do.'
'Like what', I asked.
'We don't have enough onesies.'
'You aren't going to have the baby because we're low on onesies?'
'What's he going to wear?'


apropos of nothing she turned to me and said:
"When I'm in labor nobody is allowed to say to me, I'm opening like a flower."
"Did anyone say that last time?"
"No. But If I hear it I'm going to hit someone."

posted at 12:51 AM by raul

Filed under: on kids

TAGS: 1rst child (1) 2nd child (1) fatherhood (8) pregancy (1) pregnancy (12)


02/17/07 04:55 AM

Delightful summary of parenthood in the west. On a slightly different take on the subject, I have been doing research on ancient and modern laws to do with the first born child.
An anthropologist friend said something that intrigued me, i.e.
'no first born is ever entirely their own person.' The familial & social obligations of the first child marked out from the start across many cultures.

02/17/07 04:31 PM

Initially #2 is exponentially harder... almost impossible....I cried so much. But it gets easier. Eventually your kids will become this little inseparable unit and instead of looking to find you in a room they find each other and will actually be able to play on their own (imagine that). We have 4 now which is still hard to believe especially when I consider what we were when we got married (I was 25 he was 27. "Mother of 4" makes me sound like a cow.), but life kept rolling along and that's where we are. Don't worry too much, as you say you'll make your mistakes and go on. It will all be fine. I'll admit I'm dying for it all to happen already so I can see your birth pictures. We have no photographers in our family and your pictures from your first son's birth are the first I've seen that capture the naked glory of that experience. The picture you titled 10 seconds is breathtaking.

02/18/07 12:56 AM

As I see it, you have a baby and your life gets small as you focus on this one little human being. If you are a good parent you spend years of your life giving up ENORMOUS chunks of your own life taking care of this little person so they can go out into the world and live in it. My parents did that for me and my sister. Before they had us they did all sorts of things. My mom was in a jazz band that made a few albums, my dad was really involved with a whole range of artistic ventures and he was a tremendous competetive sailor, and then after us it all went kaput. They were good parents, we loved the, but they suffered. There are enough good people in the world to bring up kids. I'm going to spend my time out amassing experience.

02/21/07 03:25 PM

Some of us deluded parents might argue that having children is amassing experience, and even though there's sacrifice involved we have our selfish reasons. Without direct experience it's difficult (impossible even) to understand how becoming a parent fundamentally changes your outlook. Sure, having a child does tend to limit your lifestyle choices and consume your free time, but in the same way we aren't meant to spend in lives in solitude, being a parent fills out the set of relationships that spur personal growth. Simply put, being a parent makes you a different person with the love and wonder of a child smoothing the way for change.

02/22/07 11:09 AM

When I was pregnant with my second, a coworker said this to me: "Children and math don't add up. Twice the kids equals five times the work and one hundred times the love." She had that right.

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