Friday, February 20, 2004

Baby Freight Train

But first why is Merlin's list of fives so brilliant?

Chico said the other day that there is a baby freight train headed our way...and there's no stopping it.

And in one of my temptations to evil that I sometimes cannot resist I said: "You know though, our baby would be a hot commodity. Just think of how much money people pay for Cambodian babies--we might be able to get double that. I mean, if we change our minds there are definitely options."

That's right people, I actually suggested we might consider selling the baby.

And of course I cast no aspersions on Cambodian babies--they are surely worth as much as our baby...I may have been wrong in assuming that babies are like wood carvings or rugs or dinners out--ya know how they all cost so much more here.

There are a lot of motherhood taboos that I violate. One interesting side effect (besides the ordinary guilt) of making morbid jokes at my baby's expense (and it's getting harder and harder to do this) is the fear that you will be punished.

Like: This baby is a beautiful, helpless, sacred little thing and I don't deserve this baby. Something terrible is going to happen. I better straighten out my attitude right away. Shape up Missy!

I'm in fact very afraid. For every little shocking comment I pay a very high price, believe me.

Another interesting artifact of my occasional jokes about somehow getting out of parental responsibility is that it reminds me of how little I can trust my own impulses. It isn't completely surprising. I hate attachment. I hate desire. I fight those things. Well, until it's too late and then I become a basket case of need, desire, love, obsession. I suppose I should say--I resist emotional investment. Again, this is not permitted in mommies.

Advice to prospective parents: Read the freakin' manual first! No, really. For example: Did you know that babies eat every two hours and poop immediately thereafter on a 24 hour clock?!? I mean, we've all heard of 2 A.M. feedings but did we hear about 4 A.M. and 6 A.M. feedings? Plus, they are there at your breast for 15 minutes per breast 12 times a day. Yes, that's right--6 solid hours of being sucked on.

Just think about that a moment. I'm sure this is a topic I will be unable to resist returning to later.

Or better yet, read Dooce.

Before you get all worried about my baby (well, OK, worry a little) I should say that I am like this because I'm very emotionally intense and I already love my baby so much. I'm scared to love anyone this much. I love my siblings so much and spent years sweating over their well being. But that was different. Mostly, I just tried to minimize the damage my crazy parents might inflict. Or, to be fair, since my parents do have many strengths--I tried to balance out whatever my parents did that might screw them up. This is different though--this one's up to me. Utterly up to me.

I saw this guy today fighting with his son about doing homework. The father was kind of patient and kind of annoying but in the end he did get the kid--who was very resistant--to do some work. He invoked the inability to get into college--God, Harvard!--to a 7 year old, he threatened, he accused. Maybe that's is how you get them to do your bidding? I kept thinking there might be a less histrionic method but I know that this is the kind of thought that leads to your comeuppance.

And I sat there remembering how when they were little, I could get my siblings to do many things my parents couldn't. It was the grandparents syndrome--you know how kids will be sweet and nice with grandparents who are disobedient with parents? There's no point to making problems with the grandparents. You don't need to assert your autonomy against them and also they are allies. So if I said 'let's clean up!' they'd do it but my mom could threaten starvation and caning and they would not move a muscle.

I was not the man. I am about to become the man. Rather than a foil to my sometimes very flawed parents I will be the flawed parent myself.

Another reason, of course, that I think evil thoughts about my baby is that if there is a social taboo and I am expected to abide by some nicety then I always have a bit of a problem resisting the urge to violate it.


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