Recently, I’ve been first in line to criticize hip parenting, and the propensity for parentographers to take undue pride in swearing, drinking, cynicism, and ingratitude to the fertility gods. In her rant against parenting memoirs like Neal Pollack’s Alternadad, Lisa Carver captures the essence of the problem beautifully:
As a generation (X), what we know for sure is how to be sarcastic and irreverent. Parenthood is bigger than that. It inspires thankfulness, humility, rage,…wonder and a quiet sense of sacredness.
Parenthood is indeed bigger than the swearing, drinking, and the incipient hostility with which we approach all authority and institutions (how many divorces did we personally witness before age 20?). And nothing brings home the painful insufficiency of cynical disbelief more than having children, that series of moments requiring an absolutely strong infrastructure of hope, faith, and trust.
But after a little over a month writing for Babble’s Stoller Derby I now recognize that while hip/trendy/cynical parenting for its own sake is just silly, the posing and posturing has its own validity and purpose. I’m not talking about money and cool baby bags, I still think that stuff is gruelingly dull.
I mean those stands we take to protect ourselves from the hugely scary task of parenting. Sometimes the armor of analysis and trash talk is the only thing keeping me from shrinking from the absolutely terrifying weight of my love for my children. For some of us, having children is like learning about the day of one’s death. You know there is an end to this life (they leave home), yet you cannot let it stop you from digging in and feeling the horrible love and knowing that these people that you cherish will be the people who will eventually (slowly) break your heart. And so. You quietly whisper a prayer and and say “Amen.” So be it. So be it.