Be a Little Afraid

Donald, a young and fair-haired coworker, reads my blog. Hi Donald. After my recent post about getting caught at the airport covered in Joanie’s diarrhea, he told me that I have scared him away from ever having babies. I cautioned him about the efficacy of condoms then got to thinking about my readers. Hi readers.

In response to Donald’s feedback and in anticipation of a few friends’ due dates I want to clarify my goals with this project.

Dearest reader, I don’t want to scare you. Well, maybe a bit. What I’m trying to say is: be afraid, but know that you can do it

One of my goals is to combat the silly tone of What to Expect When You’re Expecting and other texts of that ilk. It’s unrealistic and patronizing and it makes the whole affair sound like a magical frolic through a meadow of cotton candy and pillows. I’m a grown woman. Give it to me straight.

The idea for this blog came to me while sitting in the back of a birthing class, trying to eat my carrot sticks quietly. It was the first day and we were watching The Movie. You know the one with the very close and graphic view of a birth. Eric and I watched it the same way we watch that show Hannibal. I cover my eyes and he tells me when the gross parts are over. When they finally were and our enthusiastic teacher turned the lights back on, I was surprised to find all of the other couples crying. All of them. Not the fearful crying you might expect but one of joy in the face of true beauty. My reaction was very different. I wanted to jump on my chair and yell, “That box got torn apart!” Luckily I was pregnant and it was unsafe for me to stand on chairs. Was I missing something? Am I colder that most people? Maybe, but perhaps it has something to do with an image of motherhood that’s been blurred of its gory details, like the picture of the woman with angel wings and perky boobs on the box of nursing fenugreek tea in the back of my pantry.

The tone I want to use is closer to my first impulse. It’s hard and painful and gross but I’m very happy about it. That’s the paradox I want to address.

The first day at home with Joanie I was astonished by how impossible parenting appeared. I was tired, sore, and emotional and my life had quickly flipped from quiet anticipation to frantic action. It was amazing that people had been doing this since the beginning of humanity, but they have and so would I. I’ve recovered, I’m used to sleep deprivation and I have a firm grasp of the basics: diapers, boobs, etcetera. I’ve trudged through the worst of it, and the troubles are probably not over, but I’ve reached a point of happiness amidst all the gross parts.

My reward: Joanie.

I finally get to know what unconditional love is. Even if she becomes a thief or an arsonist or uses the word adorbs, I will love her. Maybe that’s why people create those images of winged women. My intention is to be an alternative to her, one who acknowledges the hair and blood and poop but remains encouraging.

So be afraid, but know that you can do it.

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