Thursday, January 25, 2024

#25 / You're Doing Great

Karen Kicak, a television writer, filmmaker, and essayist, has written a column for The New York Times, entitled (hardcopy version), "I Wrote Jokes About How Parenting Stinks. Then I Had A Kid." 

The point of Kicak's column was that we are "intent in scaring the hell out of new and prospective parents." She reported, for instance, the following: 

I became a mother in 2021 ... Suddenly I found myself accosted by other parents who wanted to tell me all the terrible things about motherhood — and how it gets only worse over time. Once I had my daughter, hearing from other parents about every terrifying detail — and all the horrors to come — didn’t feel comforting or cathartic. It nearly broke me....
Generally I’ve found that talking about how wonderful my baby is to be a great way to end a conversation. When we talk about parenting hardships, though, other parents lean in, thinking: “Here we go! Giddy up!”

I think Kicak's description is pretty accurate, from what I know, and I believe that the phenomenon she describes is an example of that political (and social, and economic and spiritual) "despair" that I wrote about not too long ago. At least, that's what I think. 

In many ways, what Kicak is talking about is a different version of what Bob Dylan sang about in his powerful song, "Masters of War."

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

Each new life is a new opportunity, a new chance to change the world. Really, a new chance to "save the world." 

I am typing out this blog posting on Christmas morning, 2023 (and I am, thus, exactly one month ahead of myself with these daily messages). Kicak's column appeared in this morning's paper - on Christmas - and I don't think that The Times was unaware of the significance of presenting a meditation on the topic of motherhood on this rather special and significant day.

Despair, of whatever variety, and however induced, is the polar opposite of the message that Christmas brings us. When we realize that nothing is "inevitable," at least in the world we make, we may be able to be rejuvenated by the thought with which Kicak ends her column. Let's be open to that possibility, since "possibility" is the category that sustains all we do. Here is what Kicak said, as her closing comment:

You're Doing Great

Are we "doing great"? Well, those were the "three magic words" that Kicak's doula used, when Kicak was pregnant, and when she was doubting herself. They are incantatory, when not descriptive, because they speak to the truth of what we know we can do.

"Fear Not!" Those words, spoken to Mary, are part of the Christmas story. They tell us what to do, every moment of the year. They are not unlike the doula's advice. Let's not forget the "possible" as we deal with the difficulties, and dangers, and the travails of the present! 

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