Chronicles of Alien Development — Week 11
I’m sorry, but that’s an alien. If you ever wondered where people conceptualized the standard image we harbor of little green beings from a galaxy far far away…ummm, yeah, check their ultrasound pictures. The green is for supernatural effect.
The coolest part about seeing the alien at this stage? The damn thing was swimming in there! This alien has the doggy paddle D-O-W-N, down! And for a genetic counselor, that much movement at 11+5 along with the lack of a cystic hygroma, and a visible bladder and stomach. Well, needless to say, I’ve never been so proud in all my life. Or so relieved.
Now that I’m slowly allowing myself to believe this alien might one day become a sentient being that lives in my house, I’ve begun to contemplate how not to fuck it up. In case you haven’t noticed, the Earthly world we live in can be a fractured, furious, hostile place. Active shooters, sexual harassment, natural disasters, racial violence, domestic terrorism. These are not small things to explain to a little person.
Which brings me to an interesting dichotomy between men and women or, more aptly, father and mother. My instinct is to search for the best way to illustrate the complicated nature of our world. The beauty that breaks in the middle of destruction, the community that triumphs out of and in spite of hate, the undeniable truth that ultimately ebbs from the shared experience of a single gender, race, people. I want our alien to know the grey of this planet, and I want him or her to have the mental and emotional fortitude to work through the muck between devastating and delicious where most of life happens.
My husband wants to prepare our little one for the world. And by prepare, I mean arm, literally and figuratively. He is a protector by nature, and his natural inclination is to ensure our daughter or son is safe both through his own vigilance and by teaching them how to defend themselves. He, too, believes in love, beauty, art, joy, silly, but he knows that hate, anger, stupidity, and violence are omnipresent. To enjoy the first, our alien must know how to guard against the second.
This yin and yang is the tapestry of our marriage, a balance that will naturally spill over in to our shared parenting. And yet, I worry that it’s not enough. I worry that this world breaks people. I worry that it often steals too much from us. I worry that the love, beauty, art, joy, silly we show our alien will not outweigh the hate, anger, stupidity, and violence that he or she is bound to encounter. And what will we do when faced with a question we can’t answer? A “Why?” that leaves us speechless. Or a “What If?” that we can’t respond to with a lie.
These are big fears, I know. And they will be supplanted over the coming months by far more elementary fears. I haven’t changed a diaper in a hot minute, and I’m a sympathy puker. My husband gags at poop and could literally sleep through a nuclear attack. We have no idea how to buy, put together, or operate a crib, stroller, or high chair. Our alien will run a fever. One of our dogs will probably eat it’s umbilical cord stump (Swear, that’s what it’s called…I looked it up). See, there are all sorts of problems we’re bound to encounter before we’re up against the storybook version of “pleasured himself in front of me.” But still…
Religious affiliation aside, one of the most powerful influences in my life was my youth minister. He taught us about the Bible, and not to use “G-D”, and provided free teen-sitting services through an insane number of lock-ins, but the greatest thing he did was encourage us to think. He relished questions, all the better if they were really hard ones. He would fuel a discussion for hours using whatever means necessary to keep us seated and somewhat engaged. He wanted us to hear each other, to reach deep for what we truly thought, to come to our own conclusions about what we believed and how our lives should be altered as a result. I can’t think of a single time he directed our right or wrong (other than that whole G-D thing). For a Type-A smarty pants, that was some seriously frustrating shit, but the ability to process and sit with the answers inside myself has been invaluable.
I want our alien to seek out his or her own answers. I want he or she to know that they will not come easily, and to not be afraid of or deterred by the search for understanding. I hope I can figure out how to convey that. How to build that practice in to our family. That is, of course, with the full benefit of knowing that the GI Joe protege school will begin as soon as that kid can crawl. After all, an army marches on it’s stomach, right?
We will illustrate and prepare. We will relish questions and honor individual answers. We will pray, but we will practice. The world is waiting for our alien, with all it’s good and all it’s bad. Based on that aggressive swimming, I’m pretty sure it’s ready. I’m just not sure we are.