How I decided children are not actually frightening.

Posted by admin on August 24th, 2009 filed in Baby, General, Names, Parenting, Pregnancy

I don’t get out much, so I have to have imaginary conversations.  Then I post them on my blog.  Sane, no?

Me:  I love being a mom!

Imaginary bff:  How did you and Bert become parents?

Me:  Well, when a man and a woman have special feelings for each other, they –

Ibff:  No, no!  I know how that part works!

Me:  Oh.  Sorry.  When you have kids, you have to start planning how to have that conversation with them.  You sure you don’t want to hear what I’ve got so far?

Ibff:  I’m sure.  What I meant was, how did you decide to have kids?

Me:  It didn’t happen over night…

My descent into madness path to motherhood:

My siblings were fairly close in age to me, so while I knew them when they were small, they didn’t seem that small from my perspective.  I had no experience with younger children for most of my life.  Some of my cousins had kids when they were too young and did not seem very happy about it.  During my teenage years I concluded I would never have kids, since they are scary and emit a lot of snot.

In the late 90s, my cousin (of a reasonable age to have kids) came to visit for Christmas and she brought her two daughters (now there are three, but this was long ago).  The younger daughter was probably 3 or 4 and sat on my lap.  Nathan commented that she looked just like a little version of me, since we both had long curly hair.  Could it be possible, I thought, that there would some day be a little me out there?

After my first attempt at college, I worked in my dad’s shop for a while.  Every day we’d have lunch with my uncle, who watched his 2 year old granddaughter during the day.  I managed to admit that, even though she was clearly a child, she was not scary and was actually pretty cute.  My work attire usually consisted of a t-shirt and jeans, both covered in paint and saw dust.  It was endearing and amusing to me when one day I wore something that did not have paint splattered on it and the little girl did not recognize me.  It was interesting to see how a little mind works.  Besides, she seemed much more interested in calmly watching Dora the Explorer than doing whatever it was I was worried kids would do all day.

Somewhere in here I decided that if children befell me, I would name them Eugene and Fable.

During the fall semester of one of my last years of college, my professor had a new baby boy.  This was kind of a shock to me.  She had a doctorate, she was the head of her department, and she still dressed like a normal person.  She seemed happy about having a son.   I visited her office and talked with her fairly often, since she was overseeing the certificate I earned.  She told me she knew another lady with a baby and they got together for Halloween and dressed the kids up in cute costumes.  They were very excited and waited all evening for Trick-or-Treaters, but none came.  She didn’t seem to mind.  So you can have fun experiences with babies, huh?  And they can wear costumes?  I like making costumes…  Her husband taught at the next university over and she said he brought the baby to one of his classes.  I could tell he was bursting with pride over this baby.  Men can enjoy having kids too?  News to me, but okay.  So I learned that intelligent people are able to have kids and still do what they do and still be who they are.

I don’t know why I didn’t have these things figured out from looking at my parents, but sometimes it takes me a while to realize things.

I had another professor, who also had Dr. in front of her name, and she was pregnant.  By the end of the semester, she was really, really pregnant.  She didn’t seem to be too upset by this.  In fact, she seemed pretty thrilled about it.  Things seemed to fall to the floor around her more often than was normal, but otherwise she seemed to be like everyone else.  I never talked to her much, since I’d seen TV and what it had to say about the unpredictable nature of pregnant women.  Other people in the class spoke to her though.  I overheard her talking to one male student who was a few years older than me and had kids of his own.  They were discussing their kids having nightmares and the pros and cons of co-sleeping.  So this woman not only had endured pregnancy before, but she had older kids and she was still happy to be expecting?  Interesting.  The class was Medieval Literature and someone brought up the idea that parents in the Middle Ages just didn’t bother getting attached to their kids because of the high infant mortality rate and the difficulty of surviving until adulthood.  The professor vehemently asserted that those people loved their kids, even though she didn’t seem to have any evidence.  I could tell this was something she really believed in her heart, that parents love their children.

My final semester before graduation, I befriended a pregnant girl in one of my classes.  She was interesting, but I kept my distance because of old misconceptions.

Also during that final semester, my philosophy teacher’s wife was due.  It was nice to hear his point of view about waiting for the baby and it was a little less intimidating than actually being near a pregnant woman.  He brought pictures when he returned to class after the baby was born. His wife lived through giving birth and had an exciting time.  That could happen?  I learned something new in college!

Around this time kids became “when” not “if”.

Then we moved to Morgantown and I worked in a bookstore after not getting called for an interview at any of the “real” jobs.  I wondered what was next, where my life was going.  I had applied to WVU’s Master’s program in English, but chickened out before classes started.  I remembered my aunt telling me about a time before she had kids.  She was going to be out of a job soon.  She was in bed with her husband and suggested that if she wasn’t going to have a job, maybe she could have a baby instead.  Then I got some cousins!  It worked out really well.  I spent a lot of time discussing parenting issues with Jo, when I knew nothing about parenting.  Then I decided to read What To Expect When You’re Expecting, since a little knowledge doesn’t hurt.  I had to go to the competing bookstore across town because I didn’t want to deal with the rumors that would result from me buying that book from my work.  That was actually a pretty scary book, but I wasn’t deterred.

I was happy that Bert was on the same page with me the whole time.  We were sure we wanted kids and we wanted them sooner rather than later.  Of course we rarely used such words as “baby” and “pregnancy,” but we both knew what we were talking about.  We were so disappointed when I didn’t become pregnant after trying one time.  Not to worry though, I was pregnant with Beren less than a month later.  The end!

Ibff:  Zzzzzzzzz…

3 Responses to “How I decided children are not actually frightening.”

  1. Aloysius Says:

    Megan, your kids made me realize they aren’t so scary, you know.

    It’s a bit harder for Ren and I to have them, but I think we want to (if he ever decides to move back here!!)

  2. admin Says:

    Yay! More cousins for me!

    I’m glad my kids could be a positive influence!

    I actually have been thinking about how to explain where babies come from to kids. I think we’ll have to also explain all the different kinds of families there are, like when there are two daddies, or only one parent, or the parents aren’t the people who gave birth to the baby. At least the mechanics of baby making are still pretty simple to describe. This goes there, sometimes magic happens, 9 months later there’s a baby. Unless that changes too… “Okay, kids. This goes there, later there’s a baby. Unless the parents went to Walmart, got the cow uterus in aisle 5 to gestate the baby in, the test tubes from aisle 10, and the party hats from aisle 23…”

  3. jo Says:

    I remember our pre-children conversations at BAM about what we would do if we had children. Wouldn’t it be fun to sneak up on our past selves and jump out from behind a bookshelf with our kids?

    I told Abby the other day that I used to be a cashier, and was one when I was pregnant with her, so she was one too! She puts Pooh in the front of her shirt and calls him a baby, but she doesn’t really know what that is all about.

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