When you become a parent, I think it’s natural to have expectations and preconceived ideas of what the little person you have created is going to be like. Imagining the future and what that could look like is perfectly natural. But as they grow, you begin to see them become this little person who is unique and special in their own ways. At that point, you should let go of the ideas and expectations you had in your mind at the beginning…
I am a 22-year-old woman graduating from undergrad in a few short weeks. My parents are in their 50s and 60s and both have had a lot of health complications. They’re relatively stable, but because I’m their only child and I went to college locally, they have always relied on me for everything from helping with heavy household chores to emergency hospital visits. I know that I owe it to myself to live the life I want, which isn’t really possible where my parents reside, but at the thought of moving away, all I can think about is who would help them do all those things if I wasn’t there.
How do I make this choice without being selfish?
When I was pregnant 11 years ago, I knew I was clueless. I was young and naïve and really didn’t have the slightest idea what being a parent would entail. I don’t think I could even comprehend past diapers and breastfeeding. I read every book that I could, studies and research, and all the information I could to be prepared for one of the biggest journey’s of my life. None of that helped. Nothing can prepare for what life as a mom is like. I remember the day the nurse put this little guy in my arms and that was it. My heart filled up. I looked into those eyes and knew my world was no longer just my own.
My purpose found me. And I found the Mom Tribe.
Dear sons: it has occurred to me that I am the first generation of those who will leave a digital paper trail. This means that every withering status I’ve posted about parenthood, every unflattering baby photo of a catastrophic nappy explosion, every snigger posted online about a missing tooth, or eating your Halloween sweets after you’d gone to bed (major dick move, genuinely sorry), or self-deprecating comment about it all just being too damn much will be available to you some day. Your IT skills already intuitively surpass my own. So in advance, I am sorry.
I was visiting my brother who is a new step-parent to four children, three of whom are boys. He had decided to give all three of the boys buzz cuts for the summer. The oldest, who is 14, was protesting this and wanted to keep his hair his usual length. My brother, an admittedly more old skool type of guy, insisted on the haircut despite his stepson’s request.
I wanted to say something about body autonomy, but resisted the urge. How do you think I should have handled that situation?
I’m beginning to have an understanding of what my father felt when he came home after working all day, grabbed our baseball mitts, and stepped into my room to ask if I wanted to play catch. He would usually find me on the floor of my room, in the midst of a galactic battle between good and evil, Empire and Rebellion. Now that I’m a father, I find myself with two young daughters who have the same view of their father as their grandfather once held.
I was absolutely fine with keeping the sex of our baby a surprise. Really, I was. But then something happened to me around 22 weeks. I suddenly had a deep desire to know exactly what sort of babe was moving around in there. I felt detached and found it strange to say “the baby kicked me” and “do you want to feel the baby?” I needed a pronoun. More than that, I wanted a name. (We had a short list of lovely girl names to choose from, but absolutely no boy names. Which of course meant that we were definitely having a boy. In my head at least.)
It’s been an uncomfortable adjustment to motherhood, this reality that not even if I wanted to, and don’t we all want to, sometimes, I can’t hide myself from him. Growing a person inside you, birthing them out into the world, it was heavy stuff for me. I wanted it, without a doubt, but I had no idea how much I’d crave being alone.