There are a lot of thoughts swirling around my head these days. I’m guessing it’s inevitable, as you wait for a milestone that can’t be totally planned for, and that has you far less active than you’re used you, to think about life, what has made you who are you (or if you can and want to even define that), and what life may look like in the future.
What has stood out for me in the past few days—thanks to the forget-me-nots that remind me of my grandfather, Roger, that are busting out all over our garden—is how thankful I am for him, and how he treated me. He was, technically, my step-grandfather, but he was around my entire life so he was just part of the family to me. He was a great guy—a little crazy, perhaps, and more bigoted than I could ever fathom (which I chalked up to his age, growing up in the Midwest, and a life of experiences that I don’t know about), but also more energetic and upbeat than 99% of the people I have ever known, even in his nineties. One of the things that stands out to me when I think back to growing up, and my relationship to Roger, is how unwavering and vocal he was in his belief that I was really, really smart. I’m sure that he probably thought I was lots of other things too, that I was good at sports and pretty and all that stuff that grandparents think about their kids, but when I look back through the filter of time, I can’t remember him commenting on things like that at all. What I do remember is how damn smart he always thought I was, and how he was always bringing me old math and science books, and how he thought that I could do absolutely anything with that brain of mine. And yes, I remember knowing that he was proud of me for being so damn smart, too—probably an essential piece of the whole puzzle. I might not have agreed with him about my smarts for a lot of my growing-up years, and I know that I didn’t fully appreciate the math book gifts when they were given, but I heard his message and it obviously stuck, since I can still hear it now. And, to be honest, I probably need to hear it now more than I did then, in a lot of ways.
I think of things like this now, when I thinking about bringing a boy or girl into our world. We don’t know which will be joining our family in the next week or so, and no, it doesn’t really matter to us, but it’s already pretty obvious to me from the past few months that just being a boy or a girl will get it very different treatment from our culture. This recent blog post about a book I read last fall reminded me of it, and also reminded me of this other post from a few years ago that really stuck in my head (obviously, since it’s two years old!). We, as a society, may proclaim equality between genders, but at least in looking at the weird consumerist baby/child culture, it’s seems more divided than previously, largely due to the almighty cause of making a few extra bucks. It’s not that girls are underrated or something—I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve heard along the lines of “I sure hope you have a girl, girls are just better”—but the words we say and the environments we put kids in are so seemingly segregated even before they are born. What, I’m not decorating a nursery? What, I’m planning on putting a maybe-a-girl-baby in a blue room? I will put fire truck onesies on any baby and that surprises you—why exactly?
It’s really no different than our culture in general these days, I know. I’m just seeing the baby/kid part of it for the first time, and so it’s a whole new set of voices and shouting to have to filter out. And that gets me back to the voices I have to remember to filter IN for the kiddo—the voices that say that he/she is smart, strong, beautiful, kind, funny, or whatever else they turn out to be.
Miss you, Roger. Thanks again.