Monday, January 2, 2012

One thing I'm not afraid of...

One thing I'm not afraid of is one thing I know many younger women fear when they learn they're pregnant: the fear of being a bad parent.

The interesting thing about finding myself pregnant in my early 40's is that I finally feel that I'm grown-up enough to be a parent.

There won't be any regrets. I've sowed my wild oats aplenty. I've lived my life powerfully and with gusto. I've done things I never thought I'd do, and I've done things people wish they had the courage to do. I've explored intimacy and connection and sexuality in many of their myriad forms, and helped others along the way. I've cared for the dying and suffered through injury and loss. I've traveled to Europe and Asia. Made friends all over the world. Seen my writing published both online and in print. Been gratified to know that tens of thousands of people every month listened to my recordings.

And finally, in the last couple of years, I've settled down. Settled down in a monogamous (gasp!) relationship with a wonderful man, bought a house and a kitten, and given thought to what I want to do next in my life.

In other words, I'm not a twenty-something who, finding herself pregnant, regrets the things she'll have to put off doing for 15 to 20 years. I'm not a thirty-something just hitting her stride in her life/career who will resent the lifestyle she's giving up. I'm a grown woman who finds herself pregnant at an age when many women are finding out they're going to be grandmothers. And I think that being older -- being truly adult, knowing who I am and who I can be -- greatly improves my chances of being an excellent parent.

That, and the fact that I'm a nurturer by nature.

So, no, of the many fears I have with regards to pregnancy and motherhood, being a bad parent isn't one of them. I know what a bad parent looks like. My own parents were way too young when they had me, and they came of age during the sexual revolution. They were far too preoccupied with having a good time. Especially my father, when he came home from Viet Nam. He had his own demons and partying was an escape, I think. I've never understood the urge for extreme levels of intoxication and ego-obliteration, but he was pretty single-minded in his pursuits for many years, as was my mother and my step-mother. To say it affected their parenting assumes they did much in the way of parenting. Which they did not. But to give them credit, they've openly admitted their shortcomings and done their best in the past 10 years or so to be there for their now adult kids in whatever capacity we'll have them. And that's something I admire. It takes self-awareness and courage and more than a little humility to own up to our mistakes and try to make amends.

Tomorrow is the level two ultrasound and amniocentesis. I've practically begged M to be there, even knowing that he's got a business meeting running right up to the appointment time. My biggest fear is that there will be something wrong with the baby, and if that's true, I don't want to be alone when I get the news.

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