Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is an angst post, so feel free to skip it if you aren't into that - I'll have fresh aviation stuff up soon.

Lisa and I have stopped trying not to have kids. That's exciting, and terrifying at the same time. Normally it's a good thing when her friend comes to visit and I suspect it will take a little while to make the mindset adjustment. I have been thinking about kids lately for a variety of reasons (incidentally what do you guys think about the name "Balthor" for a boy? He could carry a sword!) and it has made me reflect more about the nature of consciousness and the inevitable loneliness we all feel as we occupy ourselves during our brief time on the planet.

I read once that there are 5 unavoidable truths in life, 5 things that we will experience again and again during our tenure on planet earth.

1. Everything changes and ends
2. Things do not always go according to plan
3. Life is not always fair
4. Pain is a part of life
5. People are not loving and loyal all the time

I hope I can show my kids how to deal with the challenges they will inevitably face, and I hope I can show them that the single most important thing is life is love - who you love and who loves you.

The thing that I have to figure out is how to do that when I think that we are essentially alone in our minds - our consciousness is a solitary one.

I can share a fairly limited version of my thoughts and feelings with you, gentle reader, and I can share a much fuller version with close friends and family, but I'll never be able to show someone what I'm actually thinking, nor really know what they are.

It's like there's darkness and we are groping around, looking at shadows and hoping they are friendly. Sometimes we find people in the darkness and sometimes we huddle together to share a spark, but the darkness is always there and it inevitably overwhelms. Someone said that every relationship that doesn't end in divorce ends in death, which is depressing as hell, but also true. I can be close to people, I can even be inside someone, but I'm still essentially alone in my head. Will having kids change that? I don't think so, but maybe I'm hoping I can be in their minds for a little bit, before they strike out on their own and move into their own lives.

I know that's likely a good thing that we can't read each others thoughts - I'd hate for people to know what goes through my mind when I'm driving on highway 401 and some doorknob cuts me off, but it's can also be a lonely thing when you are trying to communicate and the darkness interferes.

Pets are generally honest as are small kids - you can usually tell what's on a dog's mind and if you ask a three-year-old what they are thinking you'll likely get a pretty direct reply, but beyond those, everything we hear from anyone is filtered though countless layers and sometimes it can be hard to tell what's real, what's valuable and what is just static. What if my kids don't believe me when I tell them I love them? What if they tell me they don't love me?

I'm looking forward to having kids, but sweet Jebus it's a hell of a responsibility. I want them to be healthy, happy and fulfilled, and I want them to know they can talk to me about anything, even if it makes them (or me) look bad. My parents did an absolutely fantastic job in this regard and I hope to continue that legacy.

I want to share a campfire with my kids, and I can only hope they trust me enough to sit with me for a while and share the warmth. I'm not sure why I'm saying this, but my gut tells me that it's important that I do.


amulbunny's random thoughts said...

Kids are the best and hardest job you will ever have. They will run rings around you and then cuddle and tell you you are the best. Embrace the challenge! Good luck.

X-av8r said...

1. Don't try to be a buddy to your children, be a parent. They need the disipline and leadership. When you become a grandparent you can be a pal.

2. What you are worried about has been goimg on for thousands of years. Observe what others have discovered. Life leads you thru it.

3. There is nothing sadder than an old man saying "I wish I had done..." Do it!

4. The saddest thing is the passage of time. You really cannot go back.

5. If you cannot decide what to do in life, picture your self as a very old person looking back. What are you going to want to see? Do you have anyone that loves you? Do you have a family or any friends who care about you?
Are you financially independent enough to still do some of things you want to do? Did you do anything in your life that you can take pride in?

Capt. Schmoe said...

Here's the thing. You something on your side that will enable to mentally deal with all of the changes that may (or maybe not)be coming your way.

It's called time. It will likely take a few months for your wife to become pregnant. That buys you time to mentally adjust to having a kid. Gestation is another 39 weeks or so, that buys you more time to accept the reality of the change.

When they are newborns, their needs are basic. Food, lots of love and holding, a clean diaper and warmth. That's about it. It's a lot of work, but it's really pretty simple. That buys you time to adapt and to prepare for toddlers, which in turn buys you time to prepare and adjust for a pre-schooler etc etc etc.

This works until they are teen-agers at which time you kill them.

This is coming from someone who was pretty ambivalent about having kids.

Relax man, people far less equipped than you have had kids and have done a great job.

Don't obsess about it, rationally think about it and enjoy all of the action you are probably going to get.

Most of all, enjoy the process, it's called life.
Good luck.

jinksto said...

*Salute* capt. Schmoe... I had a laugh out loud moment there re: teenagers.

Here are the arguments to your five truths:

1) So enjoy it.
2) So change plans.
3) So ensure that you are.
4) So don't cause it.
5) So you must be.

Since you had good parents you have a good model to work with. If your parents are still around they may be old but they can remember things faster than you can learn them. :)

If you want to grow your childs trust in you then you must challenge that trust. If they're 4 and you ask them to jump in the pool don't let them decline. When they're 15 you'll be able to ask, "have I ever encouraged you to do something that would hurt you?" and those words will be invaluable to you.

What if your child says they don't love you? Get ready for it they will... whether it's the four year old who says it playing or the teenager who screams that they hate you. When it happens, you'll know how to deal with it as long as you know it's coming.

As a pilot you're in a decent spot. You expect things to work according to the design specifications but you know damned well that they won't always do it. You're prepared for that every time you take off, every time you land. You'll quickly learn the dangers of child rearing and learn the tricks to avoid or recover from them. For those surprises... you'll know.

I need room for a whole blog post here... :) Since I don't have that I'll give you the summary. Use what you've learned, learn the rest as you go. When neither of those apply, you'll figure it out.

Aviatrix said...

What if they tell me they don't love me?

Jinksto already said it, but it's true. I guarantee that they will. If they don't tell you they hate you, you're probably doing something wrong.

Also, everyone I know who has had any says that they are way more work than they ever imagined.

Run! Run very far away!

LaDada said...

Re: "The thing that I have to figure out is how to do that when I think that we are essentially alone in our minds - our consciousness is a solitary one."

Interesting question.

A Christian writer pointed out for me that this is part of the mystery of that religion's "Triune" concept of God. That love requires more than a simple 'oneness'... and if God is Love then in some unfathonable way the God head being a trinity of co-essential beings makes Love possible and natural.

My head spins ... maybe we're not so alone as we think? Or as the bumper sticker says: Don't believe everything you think!

Good luck with fatherhood. Just the fact that you care says that you'll do a fine job!

david said...

Looking back with my own kids (my older daughter is starting university in 2010), I can list what went right and what went wrong, but I couldn't have predicted most of it in advance. Raising teens (even extraordinary ones like my two teen daughters) is a humbling experience for anyone who thinks highly of his/her parenting skills. I thought I knew a lot about parenting 10 years ago, but much of it has gone up in smoke; here are the only rules I have left...

1. Try not to be a jerk (but it's OK that you will be sometimes -- just fess up and apologize -- see rule #2).

2. Your kids learn by imitating what you do, not by listening to what you say, e.g. if you're stressed about how to raise them, all they'll learn is how to be stressed.

3. There are a zillion different ways to parent, and none is entirely right or wrong. You have to pick one that feels true to the kind of people you and Lisa are, and ignore anyone (including me) who says that there are certain things you *have* to do or avoid. Trying to be a kind of parent you're not is BS, and kids can detect BS pretty young.

And yeah, they might tell you they don't love you. When adolescence comes, they'll probably at least tell you everything that's wrong with you, real or imaginary, in the most painful way possible -- that's part of how they break away from you and become independent adults, and it sure beats not talking to you at all (though that can happen too). Just focus on loving and respecting them unconditionally, and reacting sincerely (whatever 'sincere' means for you and Lisa). You'll survive -- at least, I'm hoping I will.

Flying High said...

Hey there,

I remember this time very well. It's an incredible feeling when you chuck out the pills (or whatever) and make that momentous, exciting decision.

If you follow my blog though you'll know that, unfortunately, it hasn't happened for us yet. Still, I maintain that sense of wonder and magic about the whole thing. It's certainly reminded me that, yes, things in life don't always go to plan, and life can be painful, but it can also be amazing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that. x

ga-with-l-plates said...

Ah yes, resolution # 5 from last years posting, have fun.:)

Take it from me, kids are the very essence of life, the good and the bad distilled and concentrated into one (or more) small and intense entities that can bring pain unbearable, and joy unspeakable. Often at the same time :)

For me with six, and an overdraft to match :), I wouldn't trade one day of them for the world.

As for the responsibility, don't try to be perfect, just do your best. It will never be good enough, but it will always be sufficient ...

You will both do great!!


Anonymous said...

Yay - Good thoughtful and insightful stuff from everyone - BUT - "Balthor" ?

I don't think he would thank you .

Anonymous said...

I know where you got those 5 basic facts!!!
And as for Balthor..well I read something lately about middle class folks who try to express their originality by giving their kids unusual names...It ends badly..they tell you not only that they hate you,but they also change their names.
Sulako you will be a brilliant dad and your kids' grandma will be their pal,just like X-av8r says.

Anonymous said...

Great advice here. I will say this enjoy the ride it will get bumpy at times.
Yes there will be a moment that you then know that your parents were not as blind to what you were doing as you thought.
My only advice is be involved show concern and interest and enjoy that ride it will be short