What To Expect When You’re Unsuspecting

You have all these plans when you become a new parent. They begin with perfection and they get sillier from there. You imagine that you will become the paradigm to the way things were done before and the way things will be done forever after. You imagine that you will tap Robert Young on the shoulder to let him know . . I got this.

Baby makes the scene, and all that planning explodes into tiny little pieces made up of feeding schedules and perpetual diaper changes and doctor’s appointments and doting relatives who understand (a little too well) what it means to stay up all night for baby and clueless friends, who have no idea whatsoever. You find yourself working taxi in the middle of the night for a cranky cough that ends up being colic, and you’re thankful to lose sleep just for knowing it’s not more serious than that.

Report cards and skinned knees and school plays and concerts and sports and pain in the ass little friends with absentee parents and snotty noses . . they’re making the scene before you have a chance to repaint the kids room.

Before you know it, middle school is happening and you’re thinking to yourself “I am NOT this fucking old”. And you’re really not. It’s just that, the time has morphed into this vacuum whose suction has taken you from delivery room to first crushes in the blink of an eye and you? You are just not ready to concede to what the Cosmos are dealing up. This doesn’t mean that life stops happening. All it means is that you were never given a chance to hold on for the ride.

By the time the kids get to High School, you have re-invented yourself. Again. You’re uncertain as to whether this latest incarnation works as well as the last, which didn’t feel all that silky smooth on account of the fact that your head and your eyes were telling you one thing but the mirror was saying “Uh uh, Boo Boo”. And sure, you still look pretty and you still feel ready to tell the world how things work. You take immense comfort in knowing that forty is the new thirty and you don’t worry yourself with what fifty looks like because that? Like everything else to this point, has seemed a galaxy away.

And then you get to forty seven years of age and you still look pretty and you still feeling like running a marathon and the world is still attached to a mobile of your liking. And hey, maybe the mirror is lying some of your pretty, but that’s okay. And hey, maybe that marathon ain’t feeling even remotely possible when you crook your feet onto the floor, and that’s okay too.

You’re well aware of the fact that perfection was never gonna happen, and you laugh at the idea that you really, really tried for such a thing. And for a good long while. Alas, you didn’t come close to the paradigm. A perfect parent? You weren’t even close, and that’s okay. Because Robert Young? Was an actor. And life? It don’t give a crap about working the script.

So you log out of Skype with your baby girl after going three hours solid, talking on music and dogs and reality shows and the cat and Tebow and writing and art and food and her big brother and Lois Lowry and work and school and every other thing that ever meant anything to the both of you . . . and that’s when you realize the very best part of the mess you done made.

Perfection was never going to feel this beautiful.


8 thoughts on “What To Expect When You’re Unsuspecting

  1. Again another deep trip into the perfection and parent subject. I guess all us parents learned a thing or two about what it takes to survive let alone be perfect at it. My measure is “how happy are those kids anyway?” Mine are and I am so thankful. Nice post Pilgrim.

  2. I could have written this. Well, not really…it sounds so much better and makes more sense coming off your page. You have a real gift, Cayman.
    Actually, I sent this to one of my best friends last night. She moved her oldest to college just yesterday and she’s a mess. Oh the mess! The beautiful imperfection. The mirror.
    Yes, yes and yes.
    Your post couldn’t have been more timely. I printed it off and set it near my printer…just as a much needed reminder when the mirror becomes too harsh and the Skype isn’t working;)

  3. Oh, fuck. That’s all I have right now. Except, maybe: This. Is. Perfect.

    p.s. I never have my glasses on when I look in my mirror. That way I always look like the imagine I carry in my head.

    • Mary, it went too quickly. I can’t think about it for too long because while I’m very excited for my daughter, the change has really gotten to me. I do the same thing with my glasses! Doesn’t work so well when I have my contacts on though…

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