Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scare Tactic

I was terrified of becoming a parent. I had heard so many stories and warnings, all those people telling me to "sleep while you can!" and bemoaning their ignorance about current cinema since they hadn't been to a movie in a year, and shaking their heads about how their marriage would never be the same. I finally held my nose and jumped not because I thought it was going to be fun, but because I imagined there must be some redeeming factors once the kids get older, or everyone would be an only child like me.

Since Theo arrived, I've realized that a) I was probably tuning out some of the glowing reports, figuring they were just saying that stuff because they thought they should and b)it's really hard to write and speak about positive events while remaining humble and self-deprecating. And I like humble and self-deprecating people. Ergo, most of the people I talk with and read about don't gush over how much fun it is to watch a five-month-old finally manage to get his left big toe all the way into his mouth.

I hope I can find a way to write and speak about my child that conveys the humor and beauty I feel as I watch him grow, without boring everyone around me to tears. Because everyone knows that there's nothing more boring than hearing stories about someone else's kid (unless it's watching someone else's vacation video).

Just then I deleted the beginning of a sentence that read "Sure, I get tired and frustrated every day..." because I think there's enough information out there about the fatigue and frustration. So for today, I'll share with you the information that Theo is currently sucking on his left big toe, that it cracks me up every time he does it, and leave it at that.

Because, trust me, it's a hoot. Really.

(This post inspired by Susan's post at Friday Playdate.)


elise said...

Ahhh! THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this.

I just read Susan's post as well, and totally agreed. I left a comment in the affirmative, saying basically that I think it's a tad irresponsible for SAHM writers to wax overly-cynical and annoyed all the time.

It makes the almost-mothers, the newlywed wives and career women of young reading America TERRIFIED to have kids! Because to read how awful it is, why would we?

Posts like yours - maybe sites like yours (I just found you!) are what we need to help dispel this terrible and unfair rumor.

Carol said...

I've been wondering why you don't post more often about Theo, and always hope your next post IS about him... and mundane is fine -- even great!

But then, I absolutely love babies and would do it all over again in a heartbeat!


EuroTrippen said...

I've always had a hard time posting the 'happy' stuff. Partly because I figure no one other than immediate family is all that interested in the contentment I find in everyday stuff like giving Syd a bath, or giggling with Robbie about boys... or our horoscopes... or the horoscopes of boys we like.

And even more importantly, these little moments are so sweet and so precious to me that I don't always want to offer them up for public consumption. Even if I did, could I really do them justice? Because how do you define (and define well) the satisfaction you feel as a parent without ending up sounding like a second-rate Hallmark card? It's tricky.

Finally, I think it's kind of fun scaring the shit out of a pair of unknowing, overly confident dinks every once in awhile. If they want to have babies, they will. Nothing you say or do can stop that... and when they finally get to discover the pure bliss of watching their baby have its first belly-laugh, well, it'll be even sweeter.

MJ said...

For years (almost too many!) I was convinced that I didn't want children because of all the negative stuff I read and heard. When I was 22 my co-workers told me pregnancy horror stories about my feet growing two sizes and NEVER GOING BACK and things like that, and they stuck.

Finally, at 37, my husband and I decided that we'd try, and if it didn't work that was okay. Eleven months later we had a wonderful little boy, and I am still amazed every day that nobody told me how much sheer FUN it is, and how incredible it is when a tiny little face beams up at you in pure, unjaded, unfiltered LOVE... how cool it is when you make a tiny person laugh... how perfectly content you can be sitting in a rocking chair in front of a window with a nice breeze blowing in, watching your baby drift off to sleep in your lap.

But speaking from experience, I can tell you that if you tell people without kids that, they won't believe you anyway, and they'll also think you're kind of a sap. :-)

elise said...

EuroTrippen, I'll have to respectfully disagree with you. It might be fun to scare the shit out of genuinely overconfident and annoying young parents-to-be, but it's just not possible to know that your entire blogging audience consists of A) mothers who are also cynical and like to write about how hard babies are or B) cocky future parents who need to be knocked down a rung or two.

In fact, it's more likely that the people reading your blog are A) mothers who are maybe genuinely struggling with SOME aspect of their life changing to include a baby, and the constant negativity they are reading does NOT help or B) a young, scared parent-to-be who is trying to glean information on what they might expect when getting ready for children

I get that it's not as much fun or as easy to write humorously about the "good times" and that people just "won't get it". I really do. I just think that the overwhelming attitude in the blogosphere from SAHM's is one of extreme, prevailing negativity. And then with a few cute pictures thrown in for good measure. It's very mixed message, it's very confusing, and it's about as much of a homage to good writing skills as is using profanity constantly in lieu of an actual vocabulary.

Veronica said...

Long before I had kids, I had one (and only one) friend tell me that having kids made ehr marriage even better. She said that it was like the love they before kids, but more of it. I have always remembered that. And now I know what she was talking about.

Good for you for showing people the good parts.

Blythe said...

Eurotrippen, I struggle with the same impulse to keep the sweet moments to myself, because describing them seems impossible. Like it would make them lose their magic. It's the reason I don't post much about Theo, but I put up a thousand photos of him (Here! Isn't my baby magical! But don't say it out loud or he might disappear in a cloud of pixie dust.)

But as someone who over-prepares for everything (I read six different books on child sleep before Theo was born - and someday I'll post about what a headache it eventually gave me), I took others' descriptions of parenthood very literally. This caused, as I keep telling everyone who asks me how I like parenthood, very low expectations. Maybe that's why I'm enjoying it so much?

It's a tricky business to balance the sweet and sour, which is why I think sites that mix the wonder with the weirdness, like Dooce and Sweet Juniper are so popular. So I'm not sure if I will post a lot more rainbows and unicorns about motherhood, but knowing there are readers out there (hi carol! and elise!) who don't mind reading them helps.

EuroTrippen said...

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading about your adventures in parenting! I'm someone whose baby making days are over, yet I still visit sites like celebrity baby blog (and others!) daily just because they make me smile. The last thing I'd want to be seen as is the person casting an anti-parenthood vote. Also, if people know one thing about me, I'd like to think it's that I joke about just about everything...

And Elise, I can pretty much guarantee you that not even a fraction of my blogging audience is reading to ascertain my views on parenting. End result, there are differing points of view and differing ways of expressing them. I really do believe that silly, tongue-in-cheek thoughts are every bit as important as serious, self-righteous ones. There's room for just about everything on the world wide web... Al Gore made sure if it. ;-)

Maria said...

I love reading positive things, because it makes me feel like I am not such a freak of nature. For the most part, I love all of the time I get with The Boy-- his smiles, giggles, curiosity, and yes, sucking his big toe! Sure there are stinky times, and they end up on the blog sometimes too, but overall, I think I have a great baby, and I don't mind saying so (nor do I mind reading you say the same)!

elise said...

Eurotrippen: Good points, well said, and I'm with you.

Blythe: Thanks for such a thought-provoking follow-up and the forum to discuss!