The Cliffhangers of Parenting


When I was ten years old, I was obsessed with watching reruns of the 1960s Batman series.  There was a particularly suspenseful episode that ended just as the Penguin tied up Batman and Robin and left them behind targets at a shooting gallery carnival game.  Would the caped crusaders escape and stop the Penguin’s dastardly plan?

No sleep for me.

I showed up the next day at the same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, but my mom was watching her stupid soap operas. She was unmoved by my concern for the Dynamic Duo, so I had to sit next to her and suffer through listless dialogue from a bunch of pretty adults, none of whom were wearing capes.

As an adult, I’m still terrible at handling suspense.  I read the endings of books first, look online for t.v. show spoilers, and force my friends to disclose any and all surprise parties that might be in my honor. Which is why having a baby is so stressful- there are TOO…MANY…UNKNOWNS, and I simply can not wait to find out how it all turns out.

For instance…

Am I pregnant?

Before even trying to conceive, I purchased a wide variety of pregnancy tests, just so that the minute that embryo split, I’d know.  After my 7th blue plus-sign, I decided to get confirmation from my doctor …but couldn’t get an appointment for three whole weeks.  THREE WEEKS? My head would’ve exploded.  Naturally, I switched doctors so that I could verify my status immediately.

Are YOU pregnant?

You’re not drinking. Why aren’t you drinking? You always drink. Is that a mimosa, or straight OJ? Why didn’t you order sushi with the rest of us? I’m sure there’s a reason why you’re waiting to share your news, but this will not stand.  I guess I’ll smile knowingly and make insinuations until you or your husband slip up.

What is the gender?

Yeah yeah yeah…everyone says some bullshit line like “Ooh, I don’t care what the gender is, as long as it’s healthy.”  Not me.  Learning my baby’s gender made that whole pregnancy business feel real, and I was twitching just thinking about it.   I tried to get my doctor to administer a blood test to find out the gender early, but he said it was “medically unnecessary” and “how did I get his home number?”  So we waited 20 intolerable weeks for the ultrasound. And then had to wait until the end of the exam, after feigning interest in femurs and head circumference, to finally see the money shot (Spoiler alert: Girl.  Both times).

Who will the baby resemble?  

When babies are born, they look like squishy mole people.  We all gush over him having his father’s eyes, or her mother’s lips, but babies change so quickly that there’s no way to know who they will end up looking like.  But I want to know NOW- will the baby have my flat feet, my grandmother’s rosacea, my husband’s 5 o’clock shadow?  But no, we have to wait and actually watch the kid develop.  Over time.  That’s like waiting for a Polaroid to develop…for eighteen years (sort of the anti-Instagram).

What will the baby be like?

“Will they paint rainbows, will they sing songs?” Que sera sera.

It would be nice to know if I’m going to have to shell out for dance lessons, or if a sports scholarship is in their future.  I’d also love a heads-up on any pre-teen sass that’s coming down the pike, or if I should look into a math tutor now (Are they hard to find?  Do I need to get on a wait list?  My baby is only a year old, but I really don’t want her to hate math).

My husband and I actually made Punet squares to narrow down our child’s genetic probabilities.  All we determined is that our kid has a 100% chance of being really dorky.

What’s that weird rash on her arm?

Yes, I know the doctor well-visit is in like, three days, but I’m concerned.  Is it small pox? Bug bites? Magic Marker? I. Need. To. Know. Immediately.  GoogleMD to the rescue!

Where are my car keys?

Um, this is important; I really need to find them. My infant better not have dropped them in the diaper genie again.  Seriously, kid, where are they? Otherwise we’re going to have to walk to the doctor.

Will my children be happy?

Okay, I have very little control over this one, but it’s the outcome that I pray for.   I definitely don’t want to fast-forward through life just to reveal key plot points in my children’s futures, but I’d feel much better knowing how it all turns out.  Any way to get a sneak preview?

Guess I’ll have to tune in tomorrow, same baby-time, same baby-channel.

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