Thursday, March 10, 2011

two paths diverged in a wood

This is how I see it.

When you first glimpse that little double pink line on the pregnancy test, you feel...a million different ways: excited and scared and overcome and nervous and anxious and happy and exuberant and everything under the sun. You also feel a little bit alone. But before too long, you come to be surrounded by other women who are all pregnant, by happenstance or design, you have this circle of people who are going through the same things. You talk about cravings and having to pee all the time and what it's like to go to birthing classes. You compare notes on cribs and swings and baby carriers. You share your birth plans.

When you have your babies, there are other mothers joining in your throng: babies on hips and babies nursing and babies napping in slings. You talk about sleeping and the lack of it. You talk about sore bodies and scars. You cry together and laugh together. Your babies smile at each other and you think, this is how it is, we're in this together.

But even in those first few months, there is one mother and then another who peels off from the group: the first to go back to working a job away from home, the first to put baby in daycare, the first to think about a part time nanny.

One by one we make choices that direct our path.

Once upon a time I was surrounded by a pack of mothers who were doing and thinking and talking about the same things, but in the three years since Bean was born we've each made decisions that have split us onto sidelines and avenues. The working mothers, the part-time working mothers, the ones sending their children to preschool, the ones keeping there little ones at home. The organic mothers, the traveling mothers, the mothers who go to story time at the library.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to describe this adequately, this feeling of branches splitting into infinite numbers until we're each treading a pathway that is individually our own. I used to be able to talk to my friends about the choices facing me as a mother, but I don't have that luxury anymore as so many of my choices are not theirs--- whether they've moved on or moved over or however you see it, there is movement for each of us and even though we all start out at the same place, with a tiny baby in our hands and their future spread out before us, in thirty-six short months we might be light years away from our counterparts.

This isn't to say that any one of us or them or whoever is making a bad choice, just different choices. Yes different choices is what I'm trying to say. Different. But it still scares me, this unknown future that lies before me with Alice. We're making those decision now, Chip and I, in determining what would be best for her in schooling and everything that is wrapped up in that subject. We've decided to throw out the handbook of doing things just because everyone else has done them, and it's leading us down to this slightly less traveled path, a pathway that is strange and exciting and also a tiny bit terrifying.

But I'm excited. Even if I feel like I'm peeling off from the pack, it feels good.


Anonymous said...

Go Whimsy, go! Follow your gut and you will all be fine.

Though, can I just say I was convinced, upon first glance, that you were telling us Bean 2.0 was on the way.

Also, I love how you write. Simply love.

Sibley Saga .... said...

I'll admit I was thinking of a possible Bean 2.0, too.

I was thinking of you, more than I normally do, yesterday. I tried to make a dress for London out of an old green shirt-like your tutorials. It was actually a shirt you'd given me. I accidently made it too small in the ribcage under her armpits. The effect was comical despite my frustration. I even tried getting a picture for you but they all turned out a blur of green with a faint impression of red curls running by.

Keep up your trail blazing friend. Hopefully it won't be so lonely and you may find a kindred spirit on that same road.

Bird said...

I also felt- more with Fussbot than with B- that we were in a footrace with delayed start. So that some runners start, then you wait, and another heat goes, and then another until its your turn. We were all on the track together, doing the same things but at different points.

Yes, by now we've all ended up doing our own thing but isn't that how life works? You do what works for your family? You still talk and consult the cabal of mom-friends for their thoughts but ultimately its what works for you guys?

Want to share what you guys are up to?

Alicia said...

So, of course I thought you were pregnant too. I did the thing where you want to find something out really fast where you skim and skim fast until the end. But it didn't seem like you were saying that, so I started over and actually read. :)

I don't feel like mothers peel off so much, as there's always this other HUGE underlying common experience of having a child. Whether you work or not or put your kids in private school or homeschool or have one child or six or have them by birth or adoption, there's this tremendous community. Each makes choices that define the lives of her and her child(ren), and each walks down a single path, but it's like there are these cottages where you can all come together and talk about your different paths. Because they're different, but they're also really the same.

Yep, I'm sure that made total sense.

We've done lots of different things on our own path... me staying home (for a year - HORRIFIC... but there were extenuating circumstances, so maybe that was it...), Brad staying home, both working, private school, charter school, lots and lots of research and reading on homeschooling (we may still do this when K hits 7th), daycare center, home daycare, nursing, formula, nursing while working, nursing until age 3, quitting nursing at 6 weeks, slings, hammocks, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, vegetarianism and not, lots of different parenting strategies, ... So it's not like it's a certain path even... I mean, I guess it is, but it's a path that includes a whole LOT of different choices. Which I guess is what makes it a unique path.

My assessment after all of this, btw, is that it's very difficult to screw kids up. They're really, REALLY durable. No need to be terrified. Whatever you choose will be the right thing for you at the time.

Jayme said...

I am huge on the follow your gut thing. I have changed so much as a parent over the 14+ years I've been doing it. What works for one kid, might not work for another in the same stinkin' family.

There are so many choices for moms, starting from how they even give birth. I think the key is finding friends that maybe aren't following the same path as you are, but who respect your choices and support you.

I think at the end of the day, as long as you've kept your kids best interests at heart and love them to pieces, you can't go wrong.

angelalois said...

I have a hard time with this. I am constantly comparing myself to other moms, thinking if I was right I'd be doing what they're doing. it's so hard to separate yourself and be confident in your own choices and your own life.