This is what I’ve been thinking about lately: Promise. (It’s a funny cartoon. Click over. C’mon, don’t be lazy! You won’t regret it.)
I promise that when we mess you up it’ll be in ways we couldn’t foresee. Mostly.
Last week I emailed my therapist and pushed back my appointment an extra week. Truthfully, I’m no longer in crisis the way I was two months ago and for three (four? five?) years before that. Even the fear of losing this pregnancy only surfaces immediately pre-ultrasound and fades after a glimpse of the twinkling heartbeat versus my typical habit of obsessing on worst-case-scenario outcomes. (After a prolonged period of serial disaster, it’s hard to expect anything but.) This feels like progress, an accomplishment, and I’m a little hazy about the role of therapy at this point.
The only reason I don’t simply cut myself loose revolves around a fresh set of fears–parenting after dysfunction. If you’ve been a reader for a stretch of time, you might know that my family history is sordid. Happily, I can say with bald candor that those old wounds feel mostly healed, as much as possible with my mother, the x-factor, still kicking around and working her magic as a monkey wrench in every well-oiled plan, but the promise and looming responsibility of a real child who already depends on me–for oxygen, nourishment, survival–has unearthed these old fears that I lost sight of while merely trying to survive my pain:
Will I be a good mother?
Can I? Do I have it in me? Will I make more mistakes and scramble behind the learning curve because I had bad models? Will I be warm and nurturing enough, or will I turn cold and harsh in the face of stress? Can I keep my temper in check to find those essential stores of patience and make decisions with foresight in moments of maddening frustration. Who will I turn to for guidance when I don’t know what to do?
I started accumulating a list of parenting books on an Amazon wish list, but that’s just my way of trying to proactively control a scary unknown– read, educate, and think my way out of any problem with tenacity and resourcefulness. I predict most parents will tell me that these truths are revealed and wisdoms gained in the real-time of life’s trying and treasured moments.
** Thank you, Gerald Stein for turning me on to this cartoonist!