Monday, September 25, 2006

Just Let Them Enjoy The Dream

I recently came across a blog in which a soon-to-be first time dad chronicles he and his wife's preparations for the arrival of their bundle of joy. I only stopped to read one post, but it was short, so I read the preceding one and saw that they went on and on listing the items they intended to buy for baby, and the painstaking research that had gone into the selection of each item (crib, stroller, baby gym, etc.) and how they had weighed price vs. recommendations, so on and so forth. Then he did a bit on the baby room's colors. They had selected a gender neutral palette with a very elaborate theme, complete with mural and matching accessories.

It was very cute. But it really brought out the cynic in me, and I felt badly about that. I'm looking at all this preparation for things, while in some ways useful to the parents, (and in small part to the baby) and couldn't help but think, why are these people doing this to themselves? Why are they agonizing over which car seat cover will look best covered in baby's spit up and which crib- the walnut or the cherry finish - will baby NOT EVER want to sleep in for more than twenty minutes at a time? I just want to get ahold of this person and say, NONE of this will be important to you after this baby enters your life. Don't you get that??? You can't even begin to prepare for the changes you are about to face, and all these things aren't going to help you nearly as much as you think. Just go get some sleep. If you like to go out to eat and see movies in the theatre, then go and do it...often! While you still can! Turn off the tv and have some long conversations with each other, enjoy this time while this baby is as easy to care for as he/she ever will be. Be excited about the future, but don't sweat all those details. I know you're picturing this perfect room with all the perfect stuff, but really, none of it matters.

But then it hit me. They're doing just what I did. What we did. What all expectant parents do, right?

I read and researched, I painted the room... heck, I painted the crib! I fussed over pictures and curtains and bedding and put together a child's bookcase myself, while very heavy with child. I toiled and nested and dreamed a beautiful dream of my beautiful child sleeping beautifully still in his beautifully appointed room. In my dream everything was just so. And I held on tight to that dream until the day he was born.

And in an instant, it was gone.

But it was a wonderful time, all that dreaming and preparing and feeling like I was readying myself. And maybe in some ways I was. I think that incubation period is necessary and it's all just part of the becoming a parent process. In a very real way part of you dies when that new life is put in your arms. You are transformed, are being transformed, through your role as parent and you give in to it, because that's all you can do. It's who you are now. That time in the dream stage is when you're shrouded in a chrysalis. You're not certain what changes are taking place, but you can feel them, unmistakably, nonetheless. You have to enjoy that time. So indulge in it. Revel in it. Hold on to that perfect vision, there, guy whose name I don't know...

...And though you may have to let go of that one, some of your best dreams are yet to come.

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