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.]