“Let’s have a toast for the douchebags.” – Kanye West, “Runaway”
“I’m not afraid of being a parent. I’m afraid of being a douche.” – Me, last weekend
It’s true. I am ready to be a mother. In fact, at week 31 of this pregnancy, I feel like I already am a mother. I talk to her (the baby – let’s call her the Hirschling). I feel her moving inside me. She’s there. She exists. And by virtue of that, I exist as a mother. (To be clear, I realize there’s much more to motherhood that I have yet to discover — but I feel like I’ve assumed the role, even if it’s one I will continue to discover new facets of for essentially the rest of my life.)
So motherhood doesn’t scare me, in the purest sense. I am ready to hold her, to care for her, to love her (I already love her). While I know I’m in for a slew of feelings I couldn’t possibly anticipate, I also know, deep in my bones, that motherhood is a role that will come naturally for me. It feels like a part of my identity that’s been dormant, waiting, grayed out, ready for me to turn on. And lately it feels like that switch has been flicked.
What scares me — terrifies me, really — is what motherhood will do to the rest of my life. Put simply: I don’t want to be a douchebag.
I don’t want “mommy” to overwhelm the rest of my identity. While I expect to love my daughter in profound and indescribable ways — and in some ways, I already do — I don’t want to become that person whose entire internal and external life is focused 1000% on my child. I want having a child to be an additive experience — to expand our lives, not narrow them. Jordan put it beautifully last weekend when he said, “She is the ‘and’ to our ‘yes.'” (“Yes, and” is an improv concept.) That is so much how I feel.
Something I read said that once you have a child, there are three key relationships to nurture: husband and wife; mother and child; and father and child. That makes a lot of sense to me. I’d add: our relationships with ourselves. I’d also add: our relationship as a 3-some (well, 4-some, if you count Cosmo… which of course you should!).
So, where does the fear come in? I guess I’m afraid mostly of imbalance. Of inattention to any of those relationships. I’m lucky that so many of my friends already have kids, and I can learn from their experiences. But this is our own path to carve, and it’s intimidating. As excited as I am to have her join us, I’m just terrified, I can’t help it, about how her arrival will throw things out of whack.
Parenthood is about letting go — I’ve seen my friends learn that lesson and I believe it to be true. So I know the task ahead of me is to let go of fears, let go of expectations, and just experience this journey as it unfolds. Unfortunately, patience is not my strong suit, and my hormones are out of whack (pregnancy does that to you, in case you hadn’t heard), and so here I sit… excited, maternal-feeling, terrified, and hopeful… hopeful of a vision that I have, where Jordan is making music, and I am writing, and our home is filled with friends and family and laughter, and with our little baby girl. Hopeful about our journey to help her discover this world, and who she is within it, and to live creative and fulfilling lives along the way.
Wish us luck.