Having a Child - Explained the Way I Would Have Understood It
I have seen cute lists of things that parents think explain the life-altering experience of having a child - which, let's face it - is probably closer to the experience of tripping on '70s acid than the calm and soothing baby commercials that lull you into a false sense of security and undeserved hubris. Having only just snagged the tail-end of the 1970s for the year of my birth, I am among the uninitiated acid droppers who have no idea what the experience was like, but if 1990s dramas have anything to say about it, there is a point in the night that you drop acid where you think you can fly and you jump off a tall building to prove it. Whether or not I thought I could fly was irrelevant when I first had a baby, but the leaping from tall buildings things sure sounded good.
In any case, I need to add my own list to the that beautiful genre that is explaining what having a child is like for those who do not have one or are currently frantically searching mommy blogs because they are ripe with child and don't actually believe babies exit vaginas (umhmm, me) and so have to prove it to themselves by signing up to the YouTube underworld that makes you guarantee that you are over 18 so you can watch someone push a baby out of their vag like it is some kind of weird fetish porn or something.
Anyhoo. Here's how I would explain having a kid to someone who wanted to know what it was like (but I wouldn't actually explain it to them because that's cruel). Really this is why I have a blog - so that my inner monologue can be free to haunt the dreams of those who can relate and who are also scared as shit that they might actually hold a fetus inside them in perpetuity because, let's face it, you only push because people promise that then the pain will stop. And thankfully, they are right.
So I give you: Having a child, the way I would have understood:
- Having a child is like willingly saying, "I would only like to watch shows that I like for five minutes either before my kid wakes up or after my kid goes to sleep for about two minutes to a half hour max because then I am a drooling idiot and can hardly get myself upstairs and into my bed. Also, I would prefer watching Moana and Arthur Christmas over and over and over again until I know every line and experience a emotional trajectory during different viewings that is roughly equal to my undergrad days of drinking light beer and Rev coolers back to back."
- Knowing that you have probably literally done NOTHING to inspire this behaviour except bake a baby in your uterine oven for 10 months, find yourself swelling with pride (once the postpartum depression meds kicked in) whenever your child does anything from pick their nose to tell you to "Shush Mommy" because they are watching one of the above-mentioned shows.
- You find yourself eating saliva-covered (and possibly booger-covered) desserts off your kid's plate even though they have a cough that could wake Rumpelstiltskin (I actually have no idea if that is the sleepy guy or not) because once you have a kid THEY GET HALF OF ALL OF YOUR DESSERTS IF NOT THE WHOLE THING. This should be an indictable offence. Just saying.
- You never again look at women the same way because you know that no matter how shitty you may think they are doing at this whole parenting thing - they are doing their best with what they have been equipped with from their own childhoods. Sometimes their "best" can be cringe-worthy (and I'm not talking about the children's services intervention necessary ones), but you know they are doing their best because women are the strongest creatures who live and their best is what they are forever burdened with giving their child. They have no choice.
- Bug finding becomes an reinvigorated interest for you and that's cool.
- Fear pervades your life in destabilizing pockets. For some people, it is a fear of their child getting hurt or dying. For others, it is the abiding fear that they are not strong enough to be the person that this precious little human needs. You sometimes cry in a tiny corner of the bathroom because you are always afraid, somewhere in the background, that you will lose this grip on life or sanity, or "having it together" (whatever that means), and not be able to do your best for your child. And it hurts and haunts and you know you'll never be rid of it. But it is a sacrifice that you are willing to make, this haunting, resounding fear, because you have welcome a person from another dimension here and now it's your job to show them a good time.
- You will know what it is like to have a person that is literally a piece of you, like a glacier calving or a giant piece of marble being hammered apart. You provide a piece of yourself so that another human may live and this is both a selfish and a selfless act. You just need to be selfish before you find out how far down the road of selflessness you are willing to tread.
- While it is true that you see your partner in totally different ways, I believe it is because you have to become slightly different versions of your former self and sometimes this happens through a violent reckoning with yourself as it was in my case. You will be transformed. And you know that it is for the better but it will be hard to explain to others exactly why.
- You will love your mother and parents more. Or you will question everything about your existence and every decision the people that bore you made. It is a vulnerable and sticky time, this reckoning of the self. And it isn't for the faint of heart. Decisions about who you will become are made as life passes through you and shakes the walls of your own life forever.
- You will know great joy and great love and you will smile so much your face hurts. You will cry and doubt and the foundation of yourself will be shaken. But you will survive. And you will use this example of foundation crumbling as proof that you are a survivor when the going gets tough in life and in motherhood.
- You will be a good mom. And you will have lost out on the opportunity of a lifetime if you didn't invite this perfect little human, this mini you, this piece of carved ice and marble, into the world so that everyone could partake in her majesty.
Just do it. The rest works itself out in terrifying and beautiful ways.