J here. I’m working through something, so bear with me as I clunkily trudge through it. Where to start? I guess I’ll start with the word “work” which appears in the title. Though I am not working, as in bringing in a paycheck regularly, I feel like I’m working harder than ever in so many other ways, and it’s hard. It. Never. Ends.
I’ve written about some of the work I’m doing to change my habits: quit smoking, eat better, exercise more, etc. All of these are important because I want to be around to watch our child grow up. I don’t want to teach him that it’s okay to smoke. Neither of us want him to struggle with weight issues. We want him to be healthy, and we know that in order to best do that, we need to model healthy behavior. However, healthy behavior is new to us, so it’s a challenge sometimes, but we don’t shrink from challenges; we rise to the occasion, and so a new life is beginning to emerge–one that doesn’t rely on crutches to overcome the hard stuff. Not easy, but doable, and getting easier with practice.
There’s other work too, mundane stuff like extra chores around the house, going to the grocery store, which I generally loathe, attending doctor’s appointments and the like. Again, not back-breaking, but a non-pregnant wife of a mother-to-be has got to do what a non-pregnant-wife of a mother-to-be has to do.
Then there’s some of the really hard work, like sifting through the emotional minefield left to me by my departed alcoholic mother. Yes, that lovely pile of shit that I have waded through my entire life resurfaced almost instantly the moment we found out we were having a baby. She was a sick, abusive, mean woman–a terrible mother. She left me with no positive messages about myself and certainly no model for good mothering. She taught me how to smoke, drink, gamble, and most importantly, how to hide my hurt behind rage. I have been working for years to heal, to relearn what it means to be human and vulnerable and to resist escaping life’s problems with unhealthy activities. I honestly feel like I’ve abandoned much of that, seeing as how it doesn’t really help, but some of it remains, and I fear always will. There are times when I’m nearly paralyzed with sadness about my own childhood, yet I try to use this as motivation to be everything my own mom wasn’t. It’s work, I tell ya, to overcome all of this. There are so many layers to it, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere and knocks me on my ass. I worry that I won’t have it sorted out sufficiently by the time my baby comes, and I get terrified that somehow, unconsciously, I’ll send the wrong messages to my son. But I keep working on it.
Here we are, two months out, and I find I’m not done with my work. I’ve discovered something very unsettling the past few weeks. I have issues with males (as in boys, men, human beings with penises). I don’t “get” them, and too often for my own comfort, I don’t really like being around them. This is a wee bit of a problem considering I’m about to have one, don’t you think? I don’t hate men, but I’ve privately thought on more than one occasion that I could live quite comfortably without them, just in the company of women. Men are loud, often inconsiderate, uncommunicative, and they take up a lot of room with their bodies, their voices, their ideas. Did you ever notice how much space they take up in public places? It’s like there’s this entitlement about how much of the world belongs to them. Try sharing a bench with one sometime. Do they scoot aside and make room? Not in my experience. They talk over women in conversation. I’ve seen this time and again in the classroom where a young woman will patiently wait her turn to make a comment only to be drowned out by some guy who could care less that someone else was speaking. When something is wrong, they don’t tell you about it. They brood. I know what some people will think: not all men! Of course not all men. This is the problem with generalizing about any group of people, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a point.
There are these teenage boys that hang out down at our pool. They take up the entire pool splashing each other (and anyone around them whether in the pool or not), performing dangerous dives too close to others, they spit loogies on the cement, cuss loudly, and openly admit to pissing in the pool. They are completely oblivious to those around them. I was out there last week trying to read a book, trying to be cool about the fact that they were having fun in their own way, trying not to be offended by the spit and piss, but I couldn’t help it, my first thought was “Oh my God. I’m going to have one of these.” I was stricken by that thought, readers, very shaken up that I not only thought that, but I also thought “I don’t want one of these.” I’m terrible. I know it.
I’ve lived too much of my life cloistered by academia, surrounding myself with educated, refined people, enjoying wine and fine foods and quiet hours reading books. I’ve been overly-selective of the company I keep, and I find that anything, anyone who seems rough or rowdy or crass completely turns me off. What the hell am I going to do? Certainly my boy will cuss and spit and scratch himself and injure insects and any number of things that boys do. It seems I have much work to do. I want this baby so much, and I know baby boys don’t come out of the womb doing these things, that I’ll have time to adjust to his personality. I know, too, that I’ll have some influence over what kind of boy he is, but these thoughts about men, about boys, they plague me lately. I tell myself to stop, that my boy won’t be that way, but what if he is? I’m ashamed of these feelings, and I am working on them. I hope you won’t think ill of me for voicing them here.