Anticipating Parenthood

“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.

 

4 thoughts on “Anticipating Parenthood

  1. Just make sure the vision is flexible. They grow so fast that you have to constantly re-evaluate how to make time for your spouse and your interests. Its hard in the beginning because caring for an infant is like defusing a bomb – you just run through steps hoping one disarms it, and sometimes they go off and just destroy your plans. If you stay flexible and say tonight I am going to read instead of tonight I am going to finish a book you probably won't be frustrated. Sometimes its easier to leave with takeout than rush through a dinner. Its when you start choosing to not bother going out you need to worry. In the beginning the kind of mental, emotional, and physical fatigue feels never ending – but that changes. The way I see it you get much more out of your family than what you put in, and at that point its easy to put yourselves second. When they become little people and share your excitement things really start to kick off in the direction you described. After I picked up my motorcycle (momo-cycle as Hank calls it) all he wanted to do was sit on it and ask what everything does. The only thing missing were a couple of beers for us to share while we hung out in the garage.So yeah just be patient – sounds like a long time but its not.

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  2. Rugg, thank you so much – what a thoughtful comment!! Great points all around. And another friend was telling Jordan that the joys of fatherhood really unfold as the child gets older — for you, it's motorcycle bonding… for Jordan, I think it will be making music and baking 😉 Anyway… thanks!!

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  3. Soon, you might read your blog post again and realize that the Hirschling is not the "And."She is the Yes. You are the And.Welcome to the previously secret club of parenthood. Your friends without kids call it the douchebag club, regardless if you are the coolest parent in the world. You suspect this, because you were once one of those people. Nobody wants to be a douchebag, it just happens. Perhaps it's the lack of sleep or the constant real life improv where logic does not exist. You once slept and ate and showered whenever you felt like it. Now?

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  4. Bryan – thanks for the thoughtful comment. I have to think about that… who's the yes, and who's the and? Since we already exist, and have been together for so long (18 years!), it's hard to imagine we aren't the starting point. But maybe what you're saying is that she'll reset our starting point. I read this post now, only 5 weeks later, and it already feels like a phase I've passed through and left behind — now, instead of feeling afraid of becoming a douchebag, I feel excited to see how Jordan and I (who have never really followed convention) will imbue these new roles of "mother," "father" and "parents" with our own spirit.

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