Friday, June 27, 2008

Dr Foster Went to Gloucester

Here's what I would tell teenagers about avoiding pregnancy (the why, not the how).

When we became parents, my grandmother sent a card, and it was a little different from all the "Congratulations!" cards. She said,

"Welcome to the constant worry, sleepless nights, and never ending fear."

I know it doesn't sound nice, but it was intended in love and that's how I took it. I was actually very grateful for it, because it validated a lot of the feelings I was having at the time, which the usual "babies are so fun and cute!" didn't.

When you have a child, you worry every second of every day, at some level. You fear accidents and disease; you fear you're doing SOMEthing wrong; you fear the future. When they cry, it breaks your heart a little every time. You may have had a stressful life before, but it will seem carefree compared to waking up six times a night listening for breathing just to make sure he isn't dead. Every child, in every horrible news story, takes on the face of your child, and scares the bejeezus out of you.

The emotional weight of parenting is far greater than the physical and logistical problems and annoyances. I am sure that message is not getting across with egg babies or abstinence lectures or even birth-control demonstrations.
Being a parent can make you very scared and very worried and very sad sometimes, too.

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