Down to You

When you have a baby, you are often forced into moments of unpleasant and unfamiliar introspection about yourself as a person. And I don’t mean “oh, God, I am so bad at this, and why can I not put my iPhone down even though I am supposed to be providing my baby with constant eye-contact,” because that’s just par for the course.

No, I mean the work of looking at the sort of human being you have grown up to be, and deciding what’s wrong with you. Obviously, if you are a serial killer, this work is fairly simple. But if you enjoy the general self-esteem of individuals born in the 1980s and onward, it can be challenging to objectively say “these are the things about myself I wish were different,” and then figure out how you could have arrived at a better place.

It’s not necessarily a question of “I had lousy parents.” I had fantastic parents, and I really enjoy my life, and obviously there is no more satisfying occupation than freelance lady-blogging, but when you’re lying there staring into the eyes of this perfect not-yet-messed-up-or-damaged creature that has never known sadness or loss or anything worse than that time you forgot to turn the baby monitor back on and slept through an hour of crying, your mind starts to work overtime.

What’s wrong with me? I didn’t learn to drive until I was 28. I can’t tie knots. I’m a terrible shot. I can’t help anyone back up a trailer. When I fry or saute things, I spray oil everywhere. I’m a horrible gossip. I am irrationally relieved to be married because I am incapable of maintaining perspective or dignity when relationships end. I secretly worry that all I really want to do is watch Doctor Who and lie on my couch re-reading YA fiction. I go to the dentist once every six years, need it or not. My poetry is terrible. I will never finish my novel, and it sounds exactly like Robertson Davies anyway. I make excuses to leave parties if people are playing board games. I only enjoy parties if I have Klonopin. I never figured out what was happening in Libya. I’m still not clear what SOPA is. I’m not just a normal agnostic, I’m one of those people who irrationally hate religion. I only do good things for the credit, and worry that I might become a spree killer in a cultural vacuum.

I have watched “Pete’s Dragon” six hundred times, but have never seen “Apocalypse Now.” I think that thirty percent of the songs on “Court and Spark” are about me. I throw out sponges every day instead of cleaning them properly. I write constantly about HAES and fat acceptance but wig my shit out if I gain three pounds. I can’t apply eyeliner. I have all the bad parts of being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but never want to go anywhere or do anything or listen to my voicemails. My passport always expires before I bother to renew it and then I have to expedite everything. I bite my nails. I read the comments.

And, obviously, I make everything about myself.

But this kid? This kid is going to be like the cosmic lovechild of Pippi Longstocking and Lyra Belacqua and Emily Starr and Lisa Simpson and Astronaut Mike Dexter. Or she’ll be exactly like herself, and all I can do is make sure she has the right sort of books and insist she learn to drive the minute state law allows.

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