I’m having my first kid in early September and have gratefully bookmarked every straight-talking, judgment-free, humor-infused article of parenting advice I’ve come across, because god knows I need the advice, laughs and lack of “You’re doing it wrong.”
In the meantime, I’ve made a few stabs at writing about maternity on my own, mostly in the realm of keeping track of how I feel week to week, although I have mixed feelings about actively trying to pursue publishing these or any thoughts I have in general about parenting.
First, my pregnancy has been pretty dull this far, and while I have a few funny anecdotes about stuff that’s happened along the way, I have a feeling I’m not saying anything new (boobs=big, bladder=full, brain=excited, overwhelmed and feeling useless at the same time.) Parenthood is one of those things you really can’t talk about until you’ve experienced it. Lots of wonderful people have told me many wonderful things about how my life will never be the same and how I’ll never love like this and so on. I’m grateful for their input, but at the same time, it’s like telling someone who’s never taken a hallucinogen what your first trip is like (I’m basing this not off years of taking hallucinogens but an old anecdote from Paul McCartney about how he was afraid of taking acid because “once you take it, you’re never the same,” which is both the most profound and mundane thing you could say about anything.)
Writing about parenthood, however, is a guaranteed way to get attention. I’m not thirsty for attention as a human being but I am a blogger and I know the importance of traffic. There are plenty of things I could write that would poke the Internet beast: I still drink a little coffee every day. I’ve had three alcoholic drinks since I found out I was pregnant on Christmas. I’m not sure that I want to breastfeed. The epidural sounds pretty good. All this stuff I could turn into posts either begging for approval or informing the Internet realm that I don’t give a good goddamn what it thinks and I could get plenty of Facebook shares and comments telling me “Right on!” or “You’re the worst.”
I could also maybe make a few bucks off this as well.
As a writer and a blogger, then, it behooves me to write about motherhood for the instant material and traffic. But you gotta write what you know, and babies are definitely something I don’t know, yet, and probably won’t for at least 18 years. Am I screwing up my kid already? I don’t think so, but I could be. I’m not sure I want to extend a writerly middle-finger to the masses on the record only to be proven down the line that I really did mess up, big time. I could also change my mind in a major way when it comes to anything I think I know now: I could turn out to be one of those ladies who gets a mindblowing orgasm from natural childbirth. I could meet my baby and decide I want to breastfeed him/her for the next three years. I could get pregnant again and decide I don’t want to drop of caffeine or alcohol the second time around. I don’t know the things I don’t know yet, and while the audience for parenting articles is hungry (not even just from parents--every parenting articles comes with plenty of “And this is why I don’t have kids” comments), I’m not sure I’m ready and willing to dip my toe in the water. I already know that no matter what choices I make, some people are going to think they're great and some people are going to think they're terrible and it's not like either crowd is going to relieve my worries or change my mind.
Plus, there’s already hundreds of embarrassing things my future kid can find out about me online when s/he’s old enough to start Googling (probably eight weeks? Is that right?) Maybe it's ultimately the best parenting decision just to keep my kid offline in general until s/he is old enough to post his/her own bad decisions online.
To write about parenthood or not to write about parenthood, that is the question. For now I guess I’ll take the wuss’s way out and write about writing about parenthood (or not).