It’s getting to be about that time, folks. Babies, babies, everywhere, and since my spouse and I do want kids one day, our dinner conversations have become as much about how we want to raise our hypothetical children as what we’re going to do to fight the mosquitoes this summer.
All we need to do is watch an episode of Teen Mom to feel better about our potential as parents, but just because I won’t be teaching my kids that Snooki is a role model doesn’t mean I should fail to do the best I can for them. Then again, maybe I should just chill. That’s usually the right answer for me.
Most of it will be guesswork, but I do know a few things about how I would ideally like to raise my hypothetical children, let’s call them Miracle and Sparkle, if they ever do magically appear in the cabbage patch (or as my Dad likes to say, the dump. As in, “Charlie was Deborah’s favorite thing we ever brought home from the dump.”)
Let’s put it nicely: I know jack-squat about kids. I recognize that most parents are nervous about bringing home an infant, but I’m not even there yet. I’m talking cognitive development. When will they start asking me questions? When will they begin to develop a moral compass? When will they realize I’m full of shit? Those kinds of things. Someone make me a list with all the bright colors, x ounces of milk, nail clippers, etc. I am busy overanalyzing poor Miracle and Sparkle’s psyches.
One thing Matt and I discuss often is being the kind of couple we want our kids to be part of one day. “My Dad loves my Mom a whole lot,” says Miracle to her Montessori school teacher. “We better be nice to Dad or Mom will get real upset,” says Sparkle to his aunt Sammie as she devises an evil plan to tease Matt. I want my kids to know that we love and respect each other in a way that they can one day model in their marriage. High hopes, I know.
Another thing, though: being a person I’d want my kids to become. Right now, I’m not that person. OK, I’d be fine if my kids turned out like me. As I tried to explain to my mother, even though I got a second dog against her wishes, I don’t have a criminal record, I finished college and graduate school and I have a job (She still took the dog thing personally). But let’s face it: I don’t volunteer. I don’t protest. I don’t work non-stop to pursue my dream of becoming a published fiction author. I don’t keep abreast of world news so that I can do more than yell “Moron!” when Rick Santorum says something about birth control. I don’t knock out books on my list of classics that I should’ve read in high school but didn’t.
Mostly, I go to the gym (at least I have that down for now), work, cook and watch TV. I don’t even cook that often or clean that well. I take care of my dogs. I drive a lot. We have a lot of laundry in this house for two people (thank you, the gym and the hospital). Oh, and then there’s Facebook, Pinterest, online shopping, movies and Twitter. I do what I consider a fair bit of self-improvement stuff, including said gym habit, trying to rid myself of bad habits through programs and CBT (I’m looking at you, Thin Mints), spending lots of time with my hubby (that’s marriage-improvement as well as self-improvement), etc. But perhaps I am exactly what I don’t want my children to become: a self-centered person.
I know the mantra you must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. But if you take care of yourself in all the ways Dr. Oz and clean eating blogs and gym rat circles and yoga studios want you to, where’s the time for taking care of others?
I want to be healthy and sane for the hypothetical Miracle and Sparkle. But I also want to show them that the only way things change in the world is by getting off your butt and doing something about it, and that something does not include complaining on Facebook (though social media is powerful and blah blah). So, I need to get off my butt and do something for other people. And not just because I feel like I should, but because I genuinely give a shit about something that’s going on in my community, region or country and believe I have some agency in making that something better.
Whether or not I have that agency is a whole other question. Don’t get me started on bringing Miracle and Sparkle into a world where 99% of the power lies in 1% of the population. I’ll get depressed and need some gym time, yoga and at least an hour of Pinterest to get me out of my funk.