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choose your own adventure!

You find yourself walking down a long hallway in reverendmother’s blog. Reverendmother is nowhere to be found… ah yes! She has left town for a few days.

At the end of the hallway are two doors, one on each side. You peek inside each room.

The first room is a child’s playroom, decorated with cheerful primary colors and scattered with toys—puzzles, blocks, and picture books. Finding Nemo is playing on a TV in the corner, but it’s quiet enough to be ignored if you wish. The beanbag chairs look comfy. You can tell that kids play here often.

The second room appears to be a sunroom. One wall is lined with windows, the other with bookshelves crammed with great novels, books on philosophy, and theological works. A couple of rocking chairs stand in the corner, and a pitcher of cold lemonade sits atop a small table between them, two tall glasses at the ready. This room is a place for contemplation.

Which room do you enter?

Gimme the kid stuff!
Deep thoughts and conversation over lemonade, please.

Room #1
The Playroom, or,
My Kid is Cuter before 10 a.m. than Most Kids Are All Day

C seems to enjoy being 2 1/2. R and I woke up this morning to the sound of her voice over the monitor, singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Yes he does, my dear. After grabbing a cup of milk for her from downstairs, I brought her into our room for the morning doze, a reverendfamily tradition on those days we don’t have to get up and be somewhere. She insisted on bringing her bunny, giraffe, and lovey into our room, but the giraffe was for me to cuddle with.

Great thing about having a toddler, #646: “C, please go into your room and get your flowery dress; it’s in the bottom drawer of your dresser.” Moments later, presto, toddler reappears with dress. She also feeds the cats in the morning, sort of.

Over breakfast this morning we introduced her to The Beatles.
Lesson 1: The Name and the Critical Albums, Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road.
(Lessons 2 and 3, The Names of the Band Members and
Why John Rules All Even Though Paul is Still Making Music, will come later.)

Since C is just a couple of days away from going to Sesame Place and meeting Big Bird in the flesh, er, feathers, we’ve been subtly preparing her, without preparing her, know what I’m sayin’? We’ve been talking up Sesame Street in general. Unfortunately, I missed this exchange before naptime:
R: So tell me about Sesame Street this morning.
C: I saw Telly and Baby Bear!
R: What happened?
C: They played basketball! Bonked Baby Bear’s nose.
R: Then what happened?
C: The doctor came. She had a stethescope!

And finally, the potty-training moment you’ve been waiting for: R got peed on yet again, while actually carrying C to the potty. I don’t know why he was carrying her when she’s perfectly capable of walking, but that’s twice now, for those keeping score at home. I’m fairly certain R has been peed on more in the last couple of weeks than in his entire life up to this point. If that’s not the case, I certainly don’t want to know about it.

These beanbag chairs are comfortable; you want to stay in this room. (Some other kiddie things to enjoy, from newest to oldest):
On the Eve of My Daughter’s Second Birthday
A Happy Working Mother Day

Room #2
The Sunroom Salon, or,
Face Your Fears… Or Perhaps Not.

Friday’s letter to the advice columnist at Salon, Cary Tennis, was from a woman who’s serious about a man who wants kids, but she knows she does not want to go through pregnancy and childbirth. She wants to adopt instead. She writes,
    I have known since I was a preteen that I would never, ever want to be pregnant and give birth. Those thoughts haven’t changed in 28 years, not even now that I’ve met my truly wonderful fiancé… The reasons I don’t want to be pregnant and give birth are fear and selfishness. Fear of the whole thing (and I mean heart-stopping, suicide-thought-provoking fear). And selfishness because I don’t want another creature taking over my body for nine months, causing me pain and altering my body forever. I do also sincerely believe the world is horribly overpopulated, but the truth is that I’m scared and selfish.

Here is the last paragraph of Cary’s answer:
    Do you want to raise a child? Then raise a child. Just get married and adopt a kid. What’s so hard about that? And if you really want a genetic connection with the kid, maybe that’s possible too, what with all the things they can do today. But should you ignore this strongly held belief that you’ve held for, like, forever? No. Do not ignore this strongly held belief you’ve held for, like, forever. Heed it. Pay attention. It matters.

My initial response to reading this was to say that fear and selfishness are not strongly held beliefs; they are feelings. As such they can and might be worked through. The question is, should they be worked through?

I’ve talked many times about the role fear plays in paralyzing people. But this letter got me wondering when it’s OK just to let some fears exist unexamined, unaddressed and unresolved. There are options available to this woman: adopting, becoming a foster parent, surrogacy, remaining childless. Pregnancy is not a necessary part of life; it is preventable. So is it worth it for her to try to work through this fear?

I know people who are afraid of flying. So they don’t. They take trains or buses or they drive themselves or they don’t go. They’ve found a workaround. So apparently the fear doesn’t negatively impact their life; they’re perfectly happy and able to get where they want to go with their feet planted on terra firma. Meanwhile, those of us who love the convenience of flying and the speed with which one reaches the destination are mystified by this and can’t understand why they don’t just work through this fear already.

Like I said, I’ve written a lot about fear. And if it were me, I would be inclined to want to work through something so huge, whether I ultimately felt called to be pregnant or not. But I enjoy interior work for its own sake. And I’ve never had a 28-year fear. (It would have had to begin when I was five. Hmm, we lived in Houston and had really big tree roaches that visited our house regularly, but I wouldn’t call that a fear so much as a revulsion and a case of the heebie-jeebies.)

So how would you advise someone with a “heart-stopping fear” of something easily avoided? Avoid the cause of the fear, or dig in and see what she finds?

I want to finish my lemonade as I keep pondering some stuff! (Some oldies but goodies, newest to oldest):
Rubbernecking Ayelet Waldman
Musing on Venting
On the Bias

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