Monday, March 06, 2006

Time Off (I didn't really finish this from a week and a half ago)

With the holiday, I have some time off to think. I'm not sure this is a good thing. Of course being an English teacher, is it really downtime when I get to read essays? In two and a half or so weeks, my life changes. The idea was too big to get my head around so I've kept myself busy going to baby classes and building baby things - tan and blue plaid Burberry I mean Graco Pack n Play being the coolest with its reverse umbrella fold action. Baby thoughts have typically come in two permutations: the "awh, doesn't adorable baby have daddy's full lips and high cheekbones" fashion or the flash into the future of little man taking all-league honors in baseball and football while maintaining a 4.3 with generous helpings of community service.

With down time, I guess, comes some downer thoughts. Crap, who can afford a baby these days with a mortgage in a slowing housing market on two teachers salaries? Am I stable enough to help support a family? Do I make enough money? Am I professionally fulfilled? If not, can we afford for me to change? How do I maintain a social life? How will I function getting no sleep? Which all boils down to the overaching query of ... Am I ready?

Of course, the answer unless I was mighty cocky, which I can be sometimes, is invariably no. As only child of a brave immigrant who braved the United States alone, I have virtually no extended family. I have very little experience with small children and virtually none with babies. Shoot pets are a stretch unless you count a dead canary and tropical fish. I'm used to being #1 in my life and have willed myself to #1 in my wife's. I hope I'm willing to relinquish the title but don't have much experience.

I look forward to the sense of fulfillment and richness, adjectives that seem only to be applied these days to mooing over nogat in a candy bar. I guess I'm talking about weight, or its opposite, Kundera's "unbearable lightness of being." I teach to feel needed and take on responsibility, a larger responsibility than my own. Something more tangible than a bumper sticker or an email forward or a political vote for that matter. It makes the inevitable crappy paperwork, idiotic phone calls, answering to high authorities who might not really know what they're doing, and distasteful office politic mean something to me. I'm not sure how other professions do it. The other ones I had never equaled enough in my equation.

But having my own, rather than teaching other people's children, is about to scramble my equation. How much weight (or time or money or attention and concern) will I give my own child as opposed to all the rest? [This school is needy enough for me to teach in but would I ever send my own child here?] Does my will to do good now become think globally and act locally, I mean very locally, like inside the fancy Italian crib I just finished assemblying? Is it selfish or natural or both? Do I then become everyone else, looking out for my own?

[Started 2/21, finished 3/6, moved up in queue. --Ed.]

1 comment:

L said...

You will never feel good enough or rich enough or prepared enough for your baby, but somehow things work out. It sounds so cliche, I know. But, I am proof that it really does.

When I was pregnant, we were probably at our most poor. I could barely afford new maternity clothes and my husband's job was sucking the soul out of him. When I was 8 months pregnant, he finally got a new job with better pay. We somehow scraped by so I could stay home for 12 weeks before my husband told me that I needed to go back to work or else, um, we couldn't eat. I remember having maybe 20 bucks in my account but somehow making that last until the next maternity pay check came.

It's not easy and there are times when life really sucked, but you really do end up spending less money when the baby comes because you don't really go anywhere. Also, people are so generous. My friends and family bought me gifts and let me borrow items I didn't necessarily need to spend $50 plus bucks on, like a swing and exersaucer.

In regards to your child's future, you will have to wait and see what you'll want for him in terms of schooling. I always thought I'd be public school 100%, but now that I am living in an area with a less than stellar school system, I have to rethink my options. It's hard to know what you'll do until you are really faced with the situation.

You'll surprise yourself in how much you will love your child and how much more of a person you'll become once he is here.