We are officially moving into the third trimester. I never thought we’d get here, and while I’m excited, I’m also terrified, because each day moves us closer and closer to meeting you. I’m so excited and fearful of becoming a mom, but none of that changes my overwhelming desire to meet you when it’s time. Just don’t show up early–I want you fully cooked, and not to need any time in the NICU. Healthy and full term, say it with me…healthy and full term.
In the last week, I’ve thought a lot about current trends in parenting and childbirth because those are topics that many of the women in my pregnancy community are now focusing on as we move into the third trimester (it’s a month based group so we’re all within a few weeks of each other). It occurs to me that I will probably not be like many of your friend’s moms, even though superficially there may be a resemblance. Yes, I’ll be home with you for as long as it makes financial sense for me to be there. Yes, you’ll be breastfed, although I expect you to have no recollection of it as I plan on weaning you long before you would have an active memory of the experience.
However, you will not be fed all organic blah blah blah from Whole Foods with wheat germ or whatever it is. You will be carried in a sling for awhile, but then it’s all stroller all the time until you can walk–don’t expect rides in strollers when you’re 4. Your tv will be limited, but we are more likely to block Disney than Playboy as we find the content on Disney FAR more objectionable and unnatural. Don’t plan on getting a cell phone before you’re a teenager, and then you should plan on being able to pay for it out of allowance you’ll earn with chores. When you ask for a cell phone in third grade because all the other kids have one, expect us to laugh so hard we fall on the floor and pee ourselves. Expect to go to public school or an academic private school–there will be NO Montessori or any of that other constructivist bullshit in your life, and while I’m certainly credentialled to stay home with you and homeschool you, I would much rather send you to school for 6-7 hours a day and get paid money and given decent health insurance for teaching all day. Don’t expect to have 7 activities a week-sure we could afford it, but there’s no way my primary job in life is going to be chauffeur. Your job is school, and if you want 1 or MAYBE 2 activities, then that’s fine, but that’s it. You’re a kid, and you need to learn to keep yourself entertained-not to be schlepped from class to class to make sure you’re having a perfectly well rounded experience every day. There is VALUE in being bored and inventing an imaginary friend, riding your bike for hours, and getting dirty in the yard.
My (Our) differences in parenting styles from those of our friends and your friend’s parents doesn’t mean we don’t love you. It means that what we believe is best for our family is different. And if there’s one lesson I want you learn early it’s that different is OKAY, as long as it’s not harmful. And if you do end up eating formula, that does NOT constitute harmful.
Your dad and I will be passing on values that are different, too. Sure there’s the basic be nice, don’t hit stuff. There’s also
- Education is THE most important thing when it comes to achieving lifetime success. 30 years from now, it will NOT matter if we bought you the trendy shoes, but it WILL matter that you learned to multiply. We don’t expect you to be a straight A robot, but we do expect your strongest effort, and if it’s ever not good enough, tutors will be hired. The words “I had a game/dance recital/violin concert” will never be accepted by us or said to your teachers in leiu of handing in your homework. The second you even consider that, the activity ends.
- We don’t do that religion thing. You may, at some point, decide you want to be religious, and that will be your choice. In the meantime, we will celebrate Christmas as a reasonably timed holiday that allows us to give presents to our friends and family, and you will hear the annual lecture about how it’s not actually Christ’s birthday and why, and how the Christmas Tree is really a pagan tradition stolen from the Druids. We’ll also celebrate Easter, minus the whole religion thing, as a fertility holiday on which you hunt eggs, and eat chocolate fertility symbols…as a woman I can see turning this into a totally female feminist holiday that celebrates our uteruses (uteri?).
- You’re not getting a job beyond the occasional babysitting job until you’re in college and we would really prefer you wait until after college to seek any sort of real employment that takes up more than a few hours a week. College is taken care of. There are ways to earn the money to pay for things like cell phones, shoes, and your car-they involve doing well in school and helping out around the house. Too many teens put their jobs first and their school work suffers. You’ll have to be in the “real” world soon enough and spend many years working, so don’t rush it.
- Sex isn’t a taboo topic in our household. You will be given appropriate information at the appropriate times, including an open invitation to go on bc at our expense at any time after your period is regular, and a stash of condoms readily available. I’d rather you wait until you’re really ready, but if you’re not going to, you have no excuse to come home with an STI or STD or pregnant. We are realists.
- You will be raised in a very open and diverse community. We have friends who are gay, transgendered, of various religions, ethnicities and the message we hope that sends is that people are people. And that who you are isn’t a mistake, and should be embraced whole heartedly. Unless it’s that you’re a Republican. Transgendered, gay, whatever, I can accept, but NOT REPUBLICAN.
- Not everyone is as lucky as you. You’ll learn this one very early, the second we take you to India. You are lucky enough to be born in a first world country to fairly affluent parents and with the benefits that accident of birth brings. We will try to reinforce this luck with regular volunteering.
- That vaccinations are important and non-negotiable. This includes Gardasil. Your arm will hurt, but you’ll get a lollipop.
- That sometimes your parents are going to dump you on the grandparents and go away without you. We love you dearly, but parents need and deserve alone time. Sometimes they even get a week to themselves each year, but mostly the odd weekend a few times a year. We also will have regular date nights, and you’re not invited. Parents who connect and relate and have a strong relationship make better parents because of that.
- That sometimes your parents are going to yell at each other. Loudly. It doesn’t mean we’ll get a divorce, or that we don’t love each other. People you love will annoy the crap out of you every once and awhile. You will learn this lesson in depth in adolesence when everything we do and say will be wrong, stupid or aggravating.
- That sometimes your parents are going to yell at you. See above bullet for further clarification. You will also yell at us. Sometimes we will want to sell you on Ebay, but would never actually do so.
Some of this will change, as battle plans never really last past the first engagement. But they are things that your Daddy and I have talked about. We need to understand what kind of parents we want to be, and what our values are because it’s often easy to follow the crowd and when we don’t want to , we need to know that the other partner has our backs. And we are NOT crowd followers.
In happier news, we have picked out your name. In theory. We’ll see if you look like a XYZ when you’re born, but the name feels right to us.
See you in (gulp) 12 weeks,