First: You don’t exist yet. Not even close.
Ten years ago, I thought you never would exist.
Five years ago, I thought you’d at least be closer to existing by now.
You’re coming eventually. Probably. I hope. (Hopefully after we move to a place that actually has room for a baby. Or rather, a baby’s stuff. If your dad and I had you now, you’d be sleeping in a box next to the dog’s bed and you’d have, like, three onesies and one blanket and that’s it. There’s no room for anything else. Sorry.)
I work myself up now and then, thinking about how by the time my mother was my age, she was well on her way to having her third (and last) kid. She’d been a mother for four years already. I haven’t even had our dog for four years yet.
Here’s the truth: You scare the ever-loving crap out of me.
Weirdly, very few of my friends have kids of their own already, and the ones who do seem to really enjoy the whole parenting thing. Which should be reassuring, and sometimes it is. Sometimes I look at other parents or pregnant women and think, Oh, I can’t wait to have a family! I mean, your dad’s going to be a great one (although for the love of God, “crayon” is NOT pronounced “crown.” YOU WILL NOT LEARN THAT FROM HIM). I’m literally dying for when you’re old enough to start reading Harry Potter together. I get so happy when I see couples out hiking with those baby backpack things (that hopefully aren’t as complicated as they look) and picture us all having little adventures together.
Then I go to the zoo and watch parents, like, yelling at kids to get close to the cage so they can take a picture and the kids aren’t even into it because they’re still too young and it’s past their nap time and they’re hungry and I shudder. Or I go to a restaurant where a kid is having a tantrum and everyone’s trying so hard to ignore and not judge the parents. Or I see a baby carrier at the Southwest gate and everything in my body clenches and I’m pretty sure I could poop a diamond within 10 minutes.
It’s like that scene in Father of the Bride II after Steve Martin and Diane Keaton have found out she’s pregnant and they’re driving home and on her side of the road, there’s all these perfect little families prancing down the sidewalk, but on his side, it’s all kids throwing things and yelling and parents begging them to behave. Only I see both. Constantly. It’s like my uterus is forever switching between sealing itself up permanently and doing gold medal-worthy gymnastics routines.
You scare me, kid, because no matter how many moms say that the love they feel for their child makes it possible to do, tolerate, endure things they never thought they could handle, I feel like I’m still too selfish to be a mom. Mommy & Me classes sound like absolutely terrible ways to spend my time. Ditto most kids’ birthday parties. I dread losing the already precious time I have to run or practice yoga or work out. And my radio in the car? Don’t touch it. Please don’t make me listen to cheesy Barney songs or kiddie versions of awful pop songs instead of Zac Brown Band and Led Zeppelin.
I know these are minor, temporary concerns and complaints and no reason to continue to delay your existence.
It goes deeper, though.
Boy or girl, I’m terrified you’re going to be the risk-taker your dad was and I’ll look up one day to find you climbing — or worse, falling from — the roof or a tree or something.
If you’re a boy, how will I teach you to respect and love women? How will I get you to honor both masculine and feminine strengths? Make you strong enough to tell your friends to cut it out when they make a sexist joke, or shrug it off when someone tries to insult you by calling you gay? What if you’re playground bully and not the one standing up for the kid no one wants to play with?
And a girl? Oh, Lord. Literally everything in pop culture and the media has me convinced that raising a girl is an impossible task. All I know for sure is that when you come to me crying because a little boy pulled your hair or whatever on the playground, I will never say “He’s just being mean because he likes you!” Instead, I’ll tell you that he’s not a nice boy and you should ignore him and play with people who are nice to you, and hope you remember that as you get older.
Will you be confident and assertive? Will you not listen to people who tell you that girls shouldn’t bother with science? What if you just love, love, love princesses and Disney movies and fairy tales? I mean, I grew up on all that stuff and I don’t think it caused permanent damage, so it should be okay if you want to be whatever current princess Pixar is shoving at us for Halloween, right? Am I supposed to call you beautiful or smart more? Will I be able to model healthy eating and exercise habits and positive body image so you grow up fit and healthy without risking an eating disorder?
I hope you like to read like your mother and can easily talk to anyone like your father. I hope you’re active and find at least one sport you love, either for the experience of competing or the thrill of challenging yourself or the joy of being on a team. I hope you’re better at trying new things than I was. I hope you love animals and the environment and believe in the humanity of everyone and stand up for equal rights. I hope, as you grow up, we have at least one thing we both love, some common ground that’s just ours to share together, whether it’s running or hiking or baseball or reading or photography.
I hope you’re not a picky eater (but I know I totally deserve it if you are). I hope you love traveling and exploring the world. I hope you’re bright and a hard worker and good at school. I hope you find many things you’re interested in and pursue those outside of the classroom. I hope you recognize that family is always first. I hope you associate Ella and Louis and Ray Charles and Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra as “dinner making music.” I hope you fall in love with Lake Tahoe and San Luis Obispo like I have. I hope you’re a crazy dog person like your father and me.
I expect that you’ll develop a love for Billy Joel and the Eagles and Zeppelin and Tom Petty and Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac and Elton John and James Taylor. I expect that you’ll be able to tell me who was on the mound for the final pitch in each of the Giants’ World Series wins since they moved to San Francisco (Wilson, Romo, and Bumgarner), who was the first Giant ever to pitch a perfect game (Matt Cain), and Buster Posey’s batting average at any given point in the season. I expect you’ll be able to quote Sandlot, Field of Dreams, and Caddyshack well before your 10th birthday.
I wonder what technology’s going to be like by the time you start kindergarten. Will your preschool have iPads? Will Google Glass be more or less required by the time you’re in middle school? Will I even get to drive you to school, or will we have driverless cars by then? I’m going to do my best to not share photos of you online until you’re old enough to make your own decisions about it, but — oh my God, will you be savvy enough to use social media safely? Will you even be able to unplug or will you be on Snapchat, or whatever’s replaced Snapchat by then, endlessly? How many fights we will have over when you get an iPhone or how much you’re allowed to use it? What will I do if I find out you’re sexting people or have some creepy social media stalker? Will I even be aware of it happening, or will I be too much of a hands-off mom who lets her kids exist in their own little bubbles and don’t realize something’s wrong until it’s too late?
We haven’t even gotten into how we’re going to be able to afford you, or how I’ll handle mom guilt or “mommy wars” or just generally feeling judged for every decision I’ll have to make while raising you. Whew.
But I guess we’ll just have to trust we’ll figure that out together when you get here. Whenever that is.
(Please don’t take too long coming out when I’m in labor with you, by the way.)