After an episode of watching CSI New York recently, I felt calm listening to Detective Mac Taylor’s advice to his colleague, Danny who was struggling with his fear of becoming a father and marrying Lindsey. He said, ‘God brought Lindsey and you together, I believe that, and you have now been blessed with a gift. The greatest gift life has to offer. Now you can choose to live in a place of fear or you can believe in the best version of you.’
Hmmm, that felt right.
Our daughter was born to us after 10 years of marriage, after we’d come to terms with the fact that we were just not meant to be parents, we were destined to live our lives as DINKS. And so when we found out that we had been blessed, apart from being giddily happy about it, we were freaking out!
The shock of becoming pregnant naturally after so long took its toll. We just couldn’t figure out how it had happened. Then a friend said, ‘don’t worry. God was probably just spring cleaning and realised that he’d overlooked the fact that motherhood was in your charts. This was probably as good a time as any for you to get pregnant!’ Another sarcastically commented, ‘well after shifting to the new city, you both didn’t make new friends or socialise. With nothing else to do and so much time in hand, you made a baby!’
Really?! Oh well, we just accepted that this was a miracle and left it at that.
Slowly fear took over – the fear of a late pregnancy, worrying about possible physical defects, developing gestational diabetes, worrying that when she becomes a teenager we’ll have crossed over to the ‘sexier’ side of the 60s – all took over the simplicity of the situation – that we were having a baby!
Thankfully, everything went well and our daughter was born healthy.
But then, new fears took over our lives. Dealing with the pressures of parenthood we struggled with worrying about her upbringing, physical well being, spoiling and pampering her too much. We continuously kept second guessing ourselves – were we doing it right? Should we be her friends or parents? Who should take on the role of the disciplinarian? We wanted advice and looked around at other children within our circle of friends and family and saw how they were being brought up. We noted the good and bad but simultaneously realised every child is different! We didn’t want to compare nor did we want to pressure her into following suit – and so the struggle continued.
Having lived as DINKS for so long we hadn’t bothered saving ‘prudently’ for the future – we worked hard, made money, partied harder, enjoyed life, travelled, met our materialistic needs and let life carry on in a daze. With her birth suddenly we felt we had no savings and no time on our hands. A frenzy to make money began. I stayed home to take care of her while husband started seriously planning for the future – her future. There was no time to worry about our future – it felt like we’d lived our lives and now we’d only be living for her.
In the rut of making up for lost time, our relationship felt the pressure. We both wanted the same things for our daughter and our lives with her but we each had our own ways of expressing that with our own reasoning – to an extent, we were both right but wanted the other to listen to our version. We snapped more readily for attention. That was worrying. If minor decisions about her made us crazy now, imagine the bull fight when there were major decisions at stake?
Even though we had wanted a child, we had given up on that idea a really long time ago. Her sudden appearance in our lives was totally unexpected. All this turmoil made sense if we just looked at the situation objectively – we were simply not prepared! She is probably basking in our love and attention right now with no expectations from us. It is our own expectations that we’re projecting onto her, and so continue to worry about how much money to leave for her or building her legacy. It is we who want to give her ‘everything’ she deserves – an everything that only we can define.
Mac’s advice sounded so right. We could continue worrying about doing the ‘right’ thing always, allowing fear to take different forms at every stage of her upbringing or perhaps we could let go, believing in our best selves and simply being there for her.