I really hate to admit this, but when I found out we were having a boy, my initial instinct was fear (ohmygod what do I do with a little boy? Boy body parts? A little penis and scrotum? Foreskin??? Or do we circumcise? Who will do the sex talk? What if we walk in on him in a…private moment with one of his socks? What about homecoming/prom/wedding dress shopping and going out for lunch and periods and hormonal acne, and watching SEX IN THE CITY reruns and all the things I know how handle?)…
And I hate to admit even more, that, after the initial “holy shit” reaction, a wave of relief started to settle in. I realized I’d never have to worry about her being catcalled, or apologize for her breasts, her butt, or her beauty. I won’t watch her leave for a date or college and pray to god she doesn’t get raped, or roofied, or have her abuse filmed for public Facebook consumption. My heart will never have to break, thinking of her getting a whistle or humiliating comment from some disgusting dude and still give him a smile because she actually feels sorry for HIM (ok, maybe this is me projecting my personal experience). I won’t have to wonder if she’ll ever have sex with someone she doesn’t really want to have sex with because just doing it, and getting it over with would be easier than to keep saying no a million times and she’s already tried locking the door to her bedroom which he still managed to muscle his way open, and after all, it’s her roommate, and he’s strong and very drunk and she doesn’t want to make things awkward in the apartment the next day (yep, you guessed it, me projecting my own life again). I won’t see her watch with empathy, or BE, her near-40 friends, single and scared, desperate for children, trying IVF after IVF, freezing their eggs, or being told it was too late to even put their few little follicles on ice.
This boy can walk alone at night and not worry about being raped, or harassed, or taken advantage of. He won’t post youtube videos asking strangers if he’s pretty or not. He won’t have to ever worry about “asking for it”, or drinking too much, or think he owes someone something for buying him dinner, or wonder why he can’t wear exercise pants (have you heard about this Billings, MT school and the yoga pant rule? I have lived in yoga pants my ENTIRE pregnancy…who knew I was inadvertently revving up the devil’s engine, creating lustful thoughts that men just can’t control? I blame Lululemon and Obama). He won’t have to worry about getting pregnant before he wants to, or even think about going through maze of deciding what to do with an unplanned pregnancy, or if birth control is regulated by someone’s moral compass other than his own. He won’t have to deal with the pressure of being told his eggs are getting old or figure out or how to navigate making money, his career, and being a good mom. We just need to teach him to be respectful of humanity, to love, to support everyone’s struggle, to do the right thing, to have no tolerance for injustice and prejudice, to listen…and most importantly, not abuse, rape, or kill anyone.
I’ve lost three jobs in the past few weeks because I’m pregnant. Yes, this is technically illegal (and hard to prove), and I don’t necessarily blame those who could’ve hired me (I’m looking at you whiskey promotional company. You…I get. One doesn’t usually associate distilled spirits with the miracle of life and abstinence from single malt tastiness), but they were opportunities I would’ve easily bagged if I wasn’t oozing nesting instincts and sporting an obvious baby bump. One was a commercial job for a mattress company. Production cast me off my headshot, liked that I was pregnant (“pregnant women need a good night sleep too!” he said), and they were even considering casting my real husband to play my TV husband. A nice chunk of change to stroll around the showroom and smile like picking out a mattress was the must exciting thing in the world. But the “client” said she didn’t like that I was pregnant. Not the look they were going for. The other opportunity was an audition for a major network TV show. The character I would’ve played would only be seen from the neck up because she’s pinned under a rotor, teetering on the brink of death. But what happened? Pregnancy: discovered, audition: canceled.
C’est la vie, right? Or…is it?
We’ve made so much progress, in such a short amount of time. And yet, it’s hard not to feel like something is slipping backward. We hear elected officials talk about “legitimate rape” who think the female reproductive system has a way of “shutting down”, others who say that life begins two weeks before conception, but have no issue with the bajillion little sperm left in countless socks, tissues and bathroom drains all around America, who have said that some girls “rape so easy”. How do I bring up a boy in this culture?
The responsibility of raising a child is enormous (so enormous I don’t even KNOW yet). Yes there are the basic needs, and schooling, and being a role model…but there’s now this hyper societal awareness, this microscope, this social experiment we’re all in called THE INTERNET, crazy bi-polar politics, a “war on women”, a total freaking out on a liberal assault of religious freedoms, a mind boggling movement of restriction, and buttoning up, and instilling fear, and putting sexuality away, the mixing of church and state…there are so many ways to be sneaky, to feel alone, shallow, unwanted, unloved, to not truly communicate but hide, shut down, get a gun (or guns), dominate, humiliate, assert power, talk shit, bully, control. How do we raise healthy, compassionate kids in this culture?
It’s always the generation before that waxes nostalgic on the childhood they had, and I find myself thinking about the freedom…the getting on my bike and just riding around the neighborhood, the walking to and from school by myself as a 1st grader, eating food and not being afraid of where it came from, what it was sprayed with, fed, injected with, filled with, or if it was genetically modified, bringing treats to school and no one even knowing what the word “gluten” meant, the drills we did were for a tornado, not a young troubled white kid with a high capacity assault rifle…
And don’t even get me started on the blazing, drought-infested inferno and/or polar vortex that my son might have to live in while our hots get hotter and our storms become more violent, or how the only animals he might be able to see will be behind bars…environmental stuff scares the bejeeeezzzzzzus out of me.
Somewhere down the line, I’m going to write a blog post entitled “10 ways to deal with an existential crisis whilst pregnant” when I have a little more distance from these fears. Because fear, while something I need to share here, doesn’t do anything but move in a spiral. It does not move us forward, and if I’m going to write about the fear, I need to write about the solution.
How do you move past fear?