Note: This post is dedicated to anyone who is pregnant with their first child or just thinking about having a child. Pay attention, suckers. Many thanks to my friend Linda Ashworth for turning me on to this talk.
Have you ever heard of TED Talks? They’re “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world,” and they’re freaking fantastic. I have lots of favorites, but today’s Controversy Wednesday features my most beloved TED Talk of all time: “Let’s talk parenting taboos.” The presenters of this talk are the founders of www.Babble.com, husband-and-wife team Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman. If you have a few minutes, I promise you won’t be sorry for watching this. (And if you are pregnant, this is required viewing.)
- You can’t say you didn’t fall in love with your child the first moment you saw him. I’m sure many of you DID fall in love that first moment. But some of you others may have only felt panic and WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?!? I so appreciate Rufus’ comment that love isn’t binary (e.g. either “in love” or “out of love”) but a process.
- You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be. Interesting fact: In the West, less than 50% of new mothers live near an immediate family member. Lonely much?
- You can’t talk about your miscarriage. Did you know that 15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage? And can you believe that 74% of mothers who miscarry think that it’s partly their fault? That is some serious shame to carry around all alone.
- You can’t say your “average happiness” has declined. Witness “The Most Terrifying Chart Imaginable for a New Parent.” Rufus and Alisa’s estimation is that while we surrender the stability of our pre-children lives, we gain transcendent moments, however fleeting.
My favorite bit from this talk is when Rufus illustrates what it’s like to have children with skewed expectations. He likens it to packing your bags for a trip to Europe, and instead landing in Nepal for a trekking trip. Trekking in Nepal is a transcendent experience, but if it’s not what you expected, can you still enjoy the journey? Can you surrender to what is?
But enough outta me. What do you think? Have you encountered these taboos in your life as a parent? Do you think they’re accurate or fair?