two years later.

by Liz on 06.08

It’s already been two years since I first found out I was pregnant. This is astonishing.

I can still remember exactly how it felt to have that petrifying fear first grip my body, and then refuse to let go for nine+ months. It was scary- not just the whole childbirth process (the physics of which I still don’t understand- partially because I choose not to think about it for too long), but the whole motherhood thing. Scary scary motherhood.

I didn’t worry that I’d screw up my kid. I came from a bunch of weirdos, and I still turned out pretty decent. Kids are kind of resilient. It was more selfish than that.

I worried that I’d screw up my life.

Two years later, I ask Josh, “Remember how afraid we were when we found out we were having a baby? Do you think we were right? Did any of that stuff come true?” And he shakes his head without hesitation. “No. Definitely not.”

Like I mentioned, I started reading Bringing Up Bebe recently, and though nothing about the book is really monumental just yet, one little sentence kicked me in the face. Druckerman talks about the idea of  “the culture of total motherhood” in America.

THAT.

That’s what I was afraid of.

“Total motherhood.”

Do you know what being a “Mommy” sounds like? It sounds like spending your day absorbed in “binkies” and “diapies” and “onesies” and “potties.” It sounds like doing all kid things all the kid time.

Two years later, I realize that hasn’t happened. Which isn’t to say it couldn’t happen- I know plenty of families that dine only at restaurants with ball pits and haven’t seen a non-animated movie in years. But in my house, sort of on purpose but mostly by accident, this hasn’t happened. Little Josh can hang. He’s like a little friend who’s smaller than us and a little limited in communication, but he eats what we eat and enjoys our sense of humor and is fine playing in his room while we do our own thing. He tags along to friends’ houses, he wanders hip art galleries, and he doesn’t mind the occasional late dinner. There are parks and picture books and crayons and Legos, but they don’t fill the entire day and I enjoy them in small doses.

I worried about bringing someone new into a family without having ever met him. I dated Josh for three whole years before I decided I knew enough about him to live with him. I didn’t have that luxury with Little J. He just sort of… showed up. What if we didn’t get along? What if he demanded chicken fingers and mac and cheese every night, refused to listen to anything but Mary Had a Little Lamb on repeat, or wasn’t satisfied unless the living room was covered with ugly chunky plastic things from Babies R Us? But little ones… they seem to be sort of flexible. He’ll eat avocado toast or a mild curry. He bops his head to The XX and Fleet Foxes. He’s content with a ball and a stack of wooden blocks. Or a tissue box. Or a crumpled piece of paper. (literally)

It’s kind of nice that he fits in so well with us. It’s also pretty considerate of him to be so easygoing.

Two years later, despite all the rough bits, it’s really nice to have him here.

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Your Comments | Add a Comment

Kirsty {a safe mooring} says:
Jun 8, 2012 8:56 am

“He’s like a little friend who’s smaller than us”.

That, right there, has made me less afraid of one day having a kid than anything I’ve ever read. What a lovely wee post.

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sez says:
Jun 18, 2012 2:05 pm

One million times, yes. This might just ease my husband’s mind a bit too! Love that idea of welcoming a little friend. Plus, we are also committed to keeping the “EEEEs” out of regular conversations with said friend, so amen to bans on: “binkies” and “diapies” and “onesies” and “potties” …(because, good god, no)

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Erin says:
Jun 8, 2012 8:58 am

Awww. Yay!

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Rachelle says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:05 am

This post is excellent : )

I was raised this way and I think it had a lot to do with me being more mature that my peers for a long time. My parents took me to dinner at real restaurants and expected me to behave, so I did. They had house parties with their friends, so I learned to be around adults. I think it’s wonderful for both you as parents and for little J as a child to have that attitude.

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Caitlin says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:06 am

I’m bookmarking this post for the day I find out I’m pregnant… :) this is beautiful.

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Kerry says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:15 am

Good god, this was encouraging.

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sez says:
Jun 18, 2012 2:06 pm

completely!

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melissa says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:19 am

Thank you. I’m reading “French Kids Eat Everything” right now, at work trying to convince myself that I don’t have to become a slave to children, if I have any. I’m going to go check out this “Bringing Up Bebe” too.

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Petite Chablis says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:29 am

I love your parenting posts. You’re honest about the tough bits and wonderfully warm but not fake-cheerleader-peppy about the great bits. It’s such a breath of fresh air amidst the “squee! Mommyhood is the bestest thing ever look at all the crafts I make for Baby my life meant nothing before Baby came!” and “OMG motherhood is terrible and my child is a monster and I haven’t had a shower in six years” stuff.

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Evie says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:34 am

Thanks for writing this, Liz. I hope for a parenthood experience like yours but none of my friends have kids and none of the parents of young children I know seem to have retained adult interests or relationships. And I can’t imagine going from someone who has hardly interacted with children to being someone who is nothing but her children! How strange would that be!

Good job with your little guy. He seems delightful.

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Sophia says:
Jun 8, 2012 9:52 am

This is so sweet that I had to comment. You guys sound like great parents. Little Josh is lucky kid.
I had a lot of the same fears about motherhood and they didn’t come true for us either. Our son is 6 months old next week and he’s so much fun such a great addition to our lives. I never knew a little person could bring such joy.

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sara says:
Jun 8, 2012 10:10 am

This:
“I worried about bringing someone new into a family without having ever met him.”
is so articulate – you’ve managed to sum up the thing I think has perplexed me the most about wanting kids. It’s a rational fear, right? It’s only recently I’ve started to feel “oh, hey, kids. I kind of actually really want them in the foreseeable future” and you’ve summed up my previous nervousness about having kids really well in one sentence.

Then the whole rest of your post pretty much summarizes what I see in my friends who’ve recently had kids… That they’re a product of you – odds are, through nature + nurture – they’re going to end up being really compatible to you as a couple, and your life.

(Until middle school. Then most kids hate everyone and everything, of course.)

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meghan says:
Jun 8, 2012 10:21 am

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will say that having a baby is a huge upheaval but it settles out and becomes the new normal. We still do the things that we love- with Zoe. We hike, we cook, we garden and work on the house. We only listen to music we enjoy. She will eat what we eat, this I am adamant about.

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Liz F says:
Jun 8, 2012 10:35 am

I tried to say something more thoughtful but I just love this.

It never made any sense to me that people (read: mothers) HAD to give up EVERYTHING so they could raise healthy children. It seems to me that healthy, balanced parents raise healthy, balanced children. And I am not balanced while listening to non-stop Dora the Explorer.

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Amanda says:
Jun 8, 2012 10:35 am

Oh congratulations. Thanks for writing this in such a honest way. I so wish one day I’ll be a mom… I read all of your posts but do not comment all the time for lack of something to add to the conversation.
I just wish you all 3 lots of joy and happiness and I am sure little Josh loves to hang out with you as well.

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Sharon says:
Jun 8, 2012 10:47 am

How is it that you always know just how to calm my deep existential dread about parenthood?

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nikki says:
Jun 8, 2012 11:39 am

I think your inadvertent rejection of the “culture of total motherhood” is awesome. I have two friends who recently-ish had babies (both friends are 25 years old, both babies are 5-7 months old) and I’ve only met one of the babies, because I haven’t seen the other friend since she gave birth. She’s been busy, absorbed in baby things, worried about having people over because her baby didn’t have a built up immune system yet. She sort of dropped off the face of the earth and we’ve resorted to facebook and texting.

The other friend has brought her tiny son to our house a bunch of times, he’s seen me drunk and laughed in my face, he’s clung to the giant eiffel tower replica on my BFF’s dining room table and let us take a picture where he looks like King Kong, my dogs have licked his face. He’s my favorite baby ever because of exactly what you said – he can hang. I’m sure it will get more complicated when he’s more toddlery, but it’s nice that I have a friend who refused to let him confine her to her home. It’s also sort of nice to have this interesting tiny person around who stares in wonderment when we bust out the karaoke machine.

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Jessica says:
Jun 8, 2012 12:14 pm

Thank you so much for this post! Glad to hear that Little J is exactly what I hope my future kiddos are like, a mini-buddy who I love to spend time with, but doesn’t dictate my life. He’s going to be so much cooler for listening to Fleet Foxes when he starts school. Basically ditto to Sharon’s comment.

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Sarah says:
Jun 8, 2012 1:31 pm

My best friend is having her second this summer. We were all hanging out over Memorial day and I was amazed at how adult her four-year-old has become. It does have something to do with being the only kid in a room full of grown folk.

We were also remarking on how each child is born into a different family. My friend and her husband will not be the same parents to the new baby that they were four years ago. The new baby will have another kid to play with when he is four. It kind of blew my mind, with very few exceptions, we all have a different (often radically different) family.

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ShotgunS says:
Jun 8, 2012 6:57 pm

Oh how I love this post!

We so often stop and look at baby H and say, “we were afraid of THAT?!?”

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Beth S. says:
Jun 9, 2012 5:53 am

Thank you so much for this post. I have no children but I am terrified of “total motherhood.” this gives me some hope.

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Robin says:
Jun 10, 2012 3:56 am

I am desperately hopeful that I am this kind of parent and have this kind of kid.

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meghan says:
Jun 11, 2012 6:22 pm

This is really encouraging for someone who’s not so sure about kids. This is the kind of parent I would want to be. I have no interest in total motherhood, and it scares me to think that could happen to me… you’re a good parenting role model!

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Jo says:
Jun 14, 2012 10:16 am

YES. The total motherhood and the “what if I don’t like the kid”!!

Thanks for the encouragement!

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Shelby says:
Jan 14, 2013 4:11 pm

Oh, man. I SO needed this today! Thank you so much for the encouragement on “total motherhood”. You were able to pinpoint exactly what I have been fearing since finding out I was pregnant (I’m only a few weeks along!) I have been so freaked out about becoming a first time mom, even though it was planned, that I was missing out on the obvious: the kid will hang! We’ll listen to our own music! We don’t need Dora on TV all hours of the day! Babies aren’t that scary! Ah, you’ve helped me more than you know. Thank you so much.

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