What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting
So you’re not expecting! Congratulations! Unless you wish you were expecting and either haven’t yet succeeded or physically cannot, in which case that’s some super heavy emotional baggage and I absolutely do not have the fortitude or maturity level yet to even consider formulating a comment on that problem. So let’s just pretend for the sake of the next few paragraphs that you are not expecting a child, and that that’s a good thing.
Let’s just get the obvious ones out of the way. You can expect: more money, more sleep, more free time. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a fair trade, because first and foremost, if Facebook status updates from the handful of parents I have on my newsfeed are an indication, you can most definitely expect:
You have yet to love anything as much as you would love your child. Maybe my conceptualization of someone’s love for their child is based too much on said crafted and constructed status updates, that adorably express a mixture of exasperation and absolutely unabated, gut wrenching, heart smashing, brain bending, inexplicably stratospheric love for something. But as far as I can tell, your love has yet to be turned up to eleven. It’s a love that I can only imagine feels like if you had a bottomless bucket of Plinko chips, and you get to walk up those stairs and drop an infinite number of Plinko chips down that Plinko board. And you watch them fall and ping off the pegs and you’re just fuckingterrified the whole time, but wouldn’t you know it, every single chip is a winner! Even so, it’s still unconscionably horrifying, letting every chip fall. It’s the happiness of not knowing and the happiness of surviving the fear and the happiness of watching the results. You have never ever ever loved like you might love if you smoosh your DNA all up in someone else’s DNA and produce another carbon-based life form.
At least, that’s how I imagine it might feel.
You will be told you’d make a great parent. Telling someone they’d make a horrible parent is like rolling fifty insults into one, because it encompasses so many potential personality and life flaws that you’d have to either be an asshole of galactic proportions, or know the other person so very well that you definitely know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they would in fact make a horrible parent. So statistically speaking, more people will suggest you would be a good parent than would suggest otherwise. And you will invariably question their credibility, because on what possible quantifiable data are they basing their observation? “But you raised a puppy! And now he’s a great dog!” Great dog? Have you hung out with my dog? He’s a huge dickhead. Seriously, he habitually jumps on people’s crotches and barks at fuck if I fucking know and sleeps with his ass literally ON my face. If my children turned out even ten percent like my dog, rest assured you would never want to be around my children. Because my dog makes up for it in fluffiness and compactness and endearing stupidity. Children are angular and squishy and stupid in more unforgivable ways. Anybody who tells you that you’d make a great parent has absolutely no evidence on which to base their assertion, and you should never trust anything they say ever again.
You will have perfectly reasonable justifications for terrible life decisions. It’s 11 a.m. and you have something or other to work on but the guy you’re interested in has a green circle next to his name on gchat? You should definitely sit on the internet for the next five hours oscillating between a) hoping he’ll chat you, and b) thinking up the absolute most perfect first chat to send him (you’ll probably choose either “hey, tall man” or “Yaks, amirite?” because one’s almost ostentatious in its subtle flirtatiousness and the other showcases your quirky spontaneousness and oh my god put me out of my misery). Suddenly it’s 4 p.m. and you haven’t showered and have you even let the dog outside yet today? Or maybe less psychotically, you want to pierce your bellybutton. Or see what it’d feel like to momentarily set your hand on fire. Or drink, for no discernible reason, the contents of your liquor cabinet and wake up under the dining room table with a mouthful of the Gobi desert. You are the only person you’re fucking up when you make shitty life decisions whilst childless, therefore even the most pedantic of justifications will suffice for some of the most lamentable of poor choices. The repercussions and guilt are internalized, individualized, somehow deserved. Every decision you make with a kid is weighed not against your own well being, but against the kid’s. Perhaps that thought immobilizes rather than empowers you. Perhaps.
You won’t understand your mother. Not really. Not yet.
-Katie Sisneros, who doesn’t actually know if any of this is even true.