So, kids. Being a parent. That whole thing.
I’ve been working with kids for a good portion of my life, been around them my whole life as an auntie to kids related and otherwise. Think they are great. In fact, you could bet good money that if there is a child in my general vicinity, I’m on the floor interacting with them (adjust my location if child is older and not necessarily on the floor; e.g., running around with a school aged mutt or deep in a conversation with a teenager about their social life) but when it comes to my sentiments about raising one of those things myself, you may want to hedge your bets (I looked that one up. I think I used it correctly).
I’m not the bold, strong, “No kids for me” type
…although I tried that on for size for a bit.
No one bought it.
I’m also not the “Born to be a mother” type.
With very few exceptions, most women (and men, for that matter) I’ve encountered share feelings about wanting to be a parent the way most people claim their political affiliation. Read: It’s definitive as fuck. You don’t hear liberal-leaning people saying, “I mean I usually don’t vote republican, but who knows.” (especially this year). The lines are drawn.
But what if I’m the, “I love kids, good with kids, probably understand child psychology more than most, yet terrified out of my GOURD about having and raising said thing.”
Which, strangely, I feel like may not be that uncommon of a type of woman. Yet, I haven’t heard of her. Where are her articles on HuffPo about “What in the fuck is all this kid stuff and why is everyone so damn certain about it all?!” Now being a therapist has clued me into the big secret we all keep, which is that none of us are certain about anything. Not one damn thing. And if we think we are, we are lying to ourselves. Uncertainty may be the only true thing there is.
So I’m here to tell the truth about this…at least my truth. I live in constant uncertainty about becoming a parent.
Is my uncertainty about my underlying perfectionism, that I deny whenever I can (it’s so boring and unoriginal, no?)? Is it the work I’ve done with children and families and how I can see how every single thing matters (really. fucking. matters)? Is it my worry that I won’t stack up to my other friends and family members who are parents? What does it even mean to stack up? (You can see how a panic/existential crisis spiral starts, right?) (Can’t you?) (Say you can.) (Say it!)
I had someone say to me recently, after I recounted how much I love my cats (e.g., crying at least once a day at how precious and lovely they are and how much I want to squeeze them. I know it’s not good for them to squeeze them. I don’t squeeze them that hard…Stop judging. Who do you think you are? Sarah McfuckingLachlan? Also, I had to take a Xanax the other day when we drove a long distance for the first time with our cats. All up to code. Nothing to see here.), that she was worried I would explode if I had children. I know she was saying it in jest, but that is legit a thought I’ve had.
Aren’t I just going to be the most overwhelmed person (not just from lack of sleep or the how-to of it all), but with how much I love these little monsters. People who have kiddos are like, “Duh, lady.” But I’ve only had a puppy and some kitties in my world and the love I have for them is a lot. I text my partner at least 2x/week saying, “I really, really, really love our cats.” He invariably says with sarcasm for days, “No way. I had no idea.”
That’s another thing: The sperm donor.
Only kidding. I don’t call him that although it’s got a good ring to it. He may go for it. I’ll workshop it later and let you know how it goes.
Is he going to be able to handle me when I’m pregnant and hormonal? One encouraging fact is that on one occasion I lost this man in a Target and found him wandering around with a jar of pickles and several boxes of fruit leather, so he knows a thing or two about bizarre cravings. I’ve also told him more than once after a long day of work that I simply just want to know everything that happens to him, ever and he just smiles and nods. deep breaths, bro. deep breaths.
So he may be equipped to deal with my moments of imbalance and unreasonableness.
Is he going to be my partner when I need him? When I’m scrambling with these ankle biters? When I’m doubting every single thing I do? I have high standards for a co-parent. Partly, it harkens back to that deep understanding of what that little human needs for development, but also (read: mostly) it is about my need for a partner. A person to help me ground myself when I’m spiraling. A person to do this sort of thing with. Let me say that I think people can absolutely raise a healthy child as a single parent. It may not be the “strongest” thing to say, but I just don’t think I am one of those people.
Butttttt, asking for help is not my strongest suit. (I see the irony. shush it…wait is that irony or something else? Alanis?). I see it all the time in my practice: the resentment that can build between partners about things they aren’t doing for each other. The thing I notice, without exception, is that neither of them asked for the things they need and want. Will I be able to ask for the help I will inevitably need without feeling inadequate? The answer is obviously no.
I mean, yes, I will ask for help, but I worry about how needy I’m going to feel. Although it seems to make sense that while raising a being that needs so much of me, I’ll need others…a lot.
Thankfully, I have found a partner that is going to be an incredible father if we choose to have children. I just have to introduce myself first…
Just kidding. He already is a great kitty dad. His tenderness, authenticity, and humor are unparalleled. It’s amazing (ok, I’m crying in public thinking about this…while, no joke, a wine tasting is happening next to me at 11am at a café. what in the fucking world. is this real life?) to see someone you know who is going to bring such love and nurturance to a little human’s life. I don’t think he has any idea how wonderful he is going to be at being a dad.
I think I realized while writing this that I am going to freak out. I am going to be uncertain. That part is likely not going to change for me. But I do know that no matter what, I can look at him and feel that it’s OK to be freaking out…to be uncertain. Maybe uncertainty is less scary when you’re feeling it with someone else.
(note: the AM wine tasters just sent me a pastry probs bc of all the public tears.)
I was talking with a friend the other day who had just recently got a tattoo sleeve and texted me, “Think it’s normal to go back and forth between loving it and saying ‘What the fuck did I just do?’”
My response was, “That is the most normal reaction I think there is.” followed by, “What you’re describing is how I imagine to feel when I have a child, “Omg, I love this baby. Also, what the fuck did I just do.’”
Which I think makes total, absolute sense.
That’s all I got.
With gratitude and compassion, Your Beth