High Stakes + Unknowability = Parenting
I just finished the most incredible book. It's called This Is How It Always Is and I first discovered it at a local book shop I took us to as a way for ODP to crawl/exert extra energy down long aisles and for me to lazily flip through pages and add to my list. I don't remember much about seeing it. I just remember thinking how cool it was that the author was local and snapping a photo of the cover of two of her books to cross-reference reviews against on Amazon and then maybe request from the library (the older I get, the more I turn into my grandma—which isn't a bad thing—it just...gives me pause).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from the library that I had a hold available, so ODP and I headed over to pick it up. And if you're a big reader, you'll understand when I say as soon as I opened it and skimmed the first page, I got that feeling you get when you KNOW you've got a good one. It doesn't matter the subject—if it's written in a way that connects with you, you get lost in it immediately and before you know it, you're taking the book with you everywhere to sneak in a page here and there and your husband is groaning, "More reading? Really? Do you even love me anymore?" And you say, "Uh huh uh huh, yep, just gotta finish this chapter."
But this book is a story about parenting on fire. It's about a family with five boys, the youngest of whom believes he might have been born in the wrong body. As they all navigate what it means to be trans and if Claude/Poppy even is trans, and what that all means, Laurie, my new favorite author who I plan to stalk but not say hi to (because I get really weird star struckness at the most basic things like book readings or spotting Dave Matthews at the grocery store etc.) at her upcoming reading, weaves in so many amazing explanations of how I feel about being a mommy. All the time. And she says it better than I ever could.
In her author's note at the end (I LOVED HER SO MUCH I READ THE AUTHOR'S NOTE BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT IT TO BE OVER), she spoke to my mommy soul:
I've been battling SO many parenting questions lately. Where should we live? Where should we put our babies in school? Do I care that I don't feel comfortable telling our son to go outside and play? Do I care about all the different factors in an online "school rating"? What kind of childhood do I want to give ODP? Where can I find more community? How much am I projecting my own experiences and wish fulfillment on him and how much do I care about that? It's likely he'll resent me no matter what, but would I rather he resent me for growing up in the same house forever or having to move when he has more to lose? HOW DO I MAKE ALL THESE DECISIONS? And when?
We don't live in a city either of us grew up in, which contributes to a lot of my internal debate, and my childhood was very much split between a small city and the country. Raz grew up in two very urban environments for the most part, so he doesn't struggle as much with this internal debate as I do, although he understands my feelings. It's foreign terrain for all of us.
I'm trying to push less and let everything evolve as it's going to more, but I honestly see myself spinning on so many internal questions for the rest of my time rearing ODP and his potential future sib(s). That is parenthood, is it not? Am I ready? Am I doomed? Are you? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I can rest a little easier knowing that spinning on these questions means I care. And that's the first step.