Saturday, January 21, 2006

I'm not dead yet...I think I'll go for a walk

I was just reading over The King's comment about people who give advice to parents through their children, and I realized that I have already been getting plenty of advice. Actually, they are prognostications of my demise, which will, according to these Nostradami, come at the moment of our baby's birth.

"You'll be dead to the world," they say. "We'll never see you again." They offer helpful advice like, "Go out now, because it's your last chance."

Granted, some of this is in jest, but some is serious. I do understand what they are referring to--that raising a child takes up time. A lot of time. I know that especially at the beginning we will be getting little regular sleep, trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, and being fascinated with our newest family member. However, I don't believe that after baby is born, they lock our condo door from the outside and pass our groceries through a slot, only letting us out for work and national holidays. In fact, some of the people who have told me this at various social events after work are parents themselves who are enjoying the same social event that I am. And while I know that my memory is slipping, I seem to recall the my parents had a social life while they were raising all six of us (probably a defense mechanism to protect their sanity). Now, thanks to the wonders of the web, I can also see that there are plenty of moms and dads out there having all kinds of adventures, although I'm not sure how likely I am to dodge through tunnels to make it to the next show. DC just isn't that interesting.

I think that part of this advice comes from the differences in situation and expectation between myself, Mama, and the Nostradami. Something that I think they fail to take into account is that we want this child--and everything that having a child entails. Yes, there will be difficulties, hardships, disappointments, and heartbreaks, but there will also be transcendent moments of joy, much silliness, and many lessons that Mama and I will learn from baby. Many of the most rewarding parts of life entail the greatest difficulties. Even sitting in meditation, which has been one of my most rewarding habits, is so difficult that I can only bring myself to do it periodically for brief spurts--and all that requires is sitting still and breathing. I don't think that those who make these preemptive declarations of our demise don't understand that rewards require work, but I do think that perhaps they are not in the situation where they have these expectations.

Mama and I, however, not only expect these changes to come, we're looking forward to them. It takes me back, in a way, to the line from Say Anything (excuse the paraphrasing, it has been awhile since I've seen it):

If you guys know so much about women, how come you're sitting behind a Gas 'N Sip on a Saturday night?

My question is along the lines of:

How do you know that drinking beer in a smoky bar with you is more rewarding than teaching a child to talk, walk, read, or run around with pants on his or her head?

The easy misunderstanding of this is that I believe that the time with my child will be more valuable than the time with others, but that's not what I'm saying. The point is that we all find a balance in our lives, and mine is going to include both time with my coworkers and time with baby, while their balance is skewed more toward time with coworkers. Perhaps that's because I'm often the old man of the group, so I've had my time with coworkers allotment filled, but perhaps not--after all, Mama is close to their age, if not younger. I don't think it's age so much as it is what I said before: situation and expectation. After all, there are those who never want to have children, and those who want and have them when they are much younger than I am.

I think that the prognosticators of our impending social doom are right: our lives will change, we will see less of them, we will go out less frequently. I also know that those are all things that we want, or are willing to exchange for what is on the other side of that coin: baby.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Amen brother. Very well put, and true.This should be a collum, how come I cant spell, somewhere. trust me sitting in a smokey bar with me is no walk in the park. I am harder to maintain than a child at any age or stage of life. It is just people being selfish wanting your life not to change or even jealous. Us on the other hand please have a baby on us.They aint cheap or free but sure can be exciting.

    EP TCB

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here's the thing, King...you, too, run around with your pants on your head after you drain a bottle (tell me that at least you don't put nipples on them, though).

    As for your offer to have a baby on you, we're already doing that...so how about we have a drink on you (after July, natch) instead?

    ReplyDelete