Two years ago, at this very time of year, I was a basket case. I had met the love of my life, and was heading for the marriage altar. We were engaged just before Christmas, and planned our wedding for mid-March. We busied ourselves with work and wedding plans, but even that wasn’t enough of a distraction. I was so excited to get married, I was a complete mad man! January cruised by, but by mid-February time started to seriously drag. By March, I went from counting down weeks to counting down hours. In short, I was beside myself with excitement and anticipation to be married.
Now, two years later, I sit at the same time of year, gearing up for another event which will happen in mid-March, right around our two year anniversary: the birth of our first child, hereafter known on this blog as WEJr.
WEJr wasn’t really a “surprise” – we anticipated having kids around this time in our marriage. We both want children, but I’m going to be really honest and say that – and this probably applies to most singles and newlyweds – that we wanted children in a very “MASH” type of way.
You know, MASH, right? The silly little game kids play to determine who you will marry, what age, how many kids you’ll have, and of course, whether you’ll live in a mansion, apartment, shack or house (hence MASH).
Now that it’s actually happening, though, and since I’ve been staring down the proverbial single-barreled shotgun for the last 7 months, I’m here to say in the open – I’m still not totally comfortable with becoming a parent; and I’m kind of sad to say that I’m not glowing with the same amount of blind emotion and excitement. (Wow – look at the punctuation in that sentence… is it a run on? I dont’ really know…)
I haven’t really fully diagnosed the emotions yet. I’m not disappointed, I’ve always looked forward to having kids someday. I’m not scared, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s not like I’m doing something no one has ever done before. Most people in the world do it with a lot less than I will. I’m not feeling unprepared. Compared to most people who unwittingly become parents out there, I’m golden.
I understand that “pragmatic realism” isn’t an emotion – but it’s the best word I can use to sum up my feelings about becoming a parent.
When people ask me how I feel and if I’m excited, I really don’t know what to say. The real answer is, “Uhh… sure… yeah. If I’m going to suffer, might as well get started now.” It’s almost as if it were a math test or chinese puzzle I had to solve before getting to eat dinner.
See, I started this whole journey under no delusions that being a parent will be painless. It will involve a lot of physical and emotional sacrifice. We’ll invest years of care, attention, love, and money into a child that has a pretty good chance of resenting us, using us, and intentionally doing the opposite of everything we say – and we’re forced to love him anyway. Our child will want things we can’t give him, have issues we can’t relate or deal with, or will (in some other way) make our lives a living hell.
Then again, maybe my kids won’t be as bad as my siblings… 🙂 (sorry guys, I had to get the jab in)
Feeling that way, I’m just struggling to manufacture the excited, “Oh man, I’m soooooo stoked for this kid to come!” emotions.
The irony is that this used to be exactly how I felt about marriage – before I met A2. I thought it would be more work than it would be fun, that the difficulty of it would overshadow the joy of it, and that the unpredictability of it would be too much of a risk to bear to my safe, cautious, fragile mental state.
And maybe that’s what I struggle with most – the unpredictability. I knew (as much as I could) what married life would be like with A2. I had a good trial period on that, and in spite of my prejudices about marriage, I liked and felt comfortable with her enough to take the plunge. But with a child, you roll the dice and what you get, you get. No exchanges, no returns. And maybe that’s what is driving me bananas, the unpredictability.
(Ben did point out to me recently that I’m perceived as a control freak, though I just view myself as ‘particular’.)
I know, I know… all you parents who made it to this point are just laughing to yourselves. I realize I sound a bit like a self-absorbed noob. I know you are thinking (with your fist shaking in the air), “Just wait until the fatigue sets in and you can’t even think straight… then we’ll see how impressive your blog is, WhiteEyebrows.”
Just let me have my learning moment. I don’t have to know everything that’s going to happen to me before it happens… (Right? Right? See I’m learning already to cope with the unknowable – now if I can just learn to have some blind joy in it.)