It’s the twentieth of April and we’ve been in a quarantine for a little over a month. I’m hoping that you’re not too scared, and that you’re enjoying all the family time. Your Mum and I have been trying to make this comfortable for you.
I’ll be completely honest, it’s been hard for me. Not spending time with you, that’s been awesome; exhausting but a lot of fun. The worry is what’s been hard. I’m hoping you’re not feeling it too much, but I’m terrified for family and friends.
I’m also worried by a lot of foolish people who might cause a new wave of infections. There are more conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick at.
Worse, this disease seems to have become politicized, with one side wanting to protect lives and the other to protect the economy. Both are worried for humanity, but have different priorities. If our society doesn’t change and we don’t worry about the economy then we’ll have problems that will last a long time and will kill people. If we just let a huge amount of people die, the economy won’t do well. What we need is change. We need to reorder society to prioritize lives. Not just monetizable lives, but all lives. I hope that by the time you read this, we have a better solution.
The next month will tell us a lot about what’s going to happen. I’m hoping those in power do the right thing.
This is obviously coming from a place of privilege, but I hope when you hear about this time in the future, your memories are happy and joyful. I hope that we have insulated you from the worst of it while still helping you understand what is happening.
We’re at the beginning of this thing still and I’m not sure what will happen.
I know that I will love you and do my best to protect you.
The way we treat babies inside is slightly different than outside. Here’s a list of the top five differences according to my observations.
5. Input and Output
Oh the joy of not caring when or how a baby eats or poops. While pregnant no one really thinks about it much except for how cool/weird a process it is. But once the baby’s out EVERYONE tells you how to do it and how you’re doing it wrong.
Sometime soon after birth kicking goes from a joyful, “OMG” moment to an annoyance and eventually a real pain. Tiny toes and fists hurt.
3. Control to Judgement
When the birthing parent is pregnant there are laws, rules, and pressures to make them do specific things. In most cases, it’s to protect the baby. Unfortunately, sometimes they prioritize the baby over the birthing parent instead of protecting both.
However, once the baby is out, the health and mental health of all parents is often ignored or considered secondary to the baby. Resources that would be available before disappear and the laws change completely.
2. Abstract to Concrete
The ultrasound, the kicking, the heartbeat, and even (for some) the growing of the baby is all sort of unreal and abstract. You’re afraid to believe and it all seems like a big prank.
Then the baby arrives and you have a baby… Like it’s there and it needs you to do stuff. Where are this kids parents? Wait, that’s us… And you now that you believe, you’re afraid. It eventually settles back to real from surreal, but it’s always a little bit of a shock.
The thing that’s growing has your affection, a deep feeling of attachment, and terror. It’s completely impossibly there. But you don’t Love it yet.
Then it comes out and your heart melts at this tiny, wrinkled, screeching, proof that you don’t know what you’re doing. And sometime between holding them and going home you realize you’d die or kill for them. But you don’t Love them yet.
I’m not sure the exact moment it happens, but sometime after the birth and before the first year, they smile, or wiggle, or something else and you suddenly feel like squishing them or howling in joy, and just like that you love them.
Brainwashing is no longer considered the reason most people join cults. Instead, it’s theorized that it’s a combination of indoctrination and acceptance that leads people to follow dangerous or benign cults.
Having a child, you go through a similar experience and the two are scarily close.
*Warning* This is meant as a humorous article pointing out the obvious and making exaggerated claims, not as a serious scientific debate.
5. Eating and Sleeping
The human mind depends a lot on its body functioning and reacting in a predictable way. Changing its patterns and starving the body of sleep or food can completely alter the way the mind reacts to situations.
For that reason, cults will often wake up their members every couple of hours to meditate, pray, etc. They will also under-feed or change the eating habits of their members for the same reason.
When you have a child, it does the same thing; waking you up multiple times a night and making sure you never have a warm meal or a meal on time again.
4. Isolation and Inclusion
The first thing that a cult will do is try to isolate new members. If they don’t have a strong support structure, they’re more vulnerable to what appears to be a warm and inviting environment. Once the members are isolated, they make sure that the other members become a new, self echoing, support structure.
When you have a baby, it comes first. A lot of the people you saw all the time disappear into the background and you find yourself meeting other parents at Ikea or the Disney Store.
At first it’s like everyone has abandoned you and then you meet other parents and they understand how you’ve suffered. Suddenly you have a completely new structure of friends.
3. Constant Fear
Cults, and extreme political parties, often like to reinforce how awesome they are by contrasting to an enemy. It could be another cult, another culture, the government etc. Sometimes it won’t be a person or group of people but an event or idea. Conspiracies, end of days, etc.
As a new parent, you will be bombarded by advice from scientific articles, friends, family, and random strangers. Each and every one of which will contradict each other or itself. The advice will be dire and terrifying. One friend will send you something like this, “Using a soother will warp your child’s gums and their teeth will be crooked and ill developed” and another will send you this, “Using a soother lowers the risk of SIDS.”
EVERYTHING will kill your kid or scar them for life and every parent will fight to the death for the thing they believe in.
2. Rituals and Repetition
Cults ingrain ideas and habits by repetition and rituals. Songs, chants, and speeches are common but so are exercises, flagellation, or repetitive actions.
As a new parent, what was once a fun cute rhyme is now a mandatory ritual. A favourite song becomes constant background noise.
Things start needing to be done in a specific order that you were daft enough to not write down and when the diaper is changed after the feeding instead of before, you’re lost to singing extra made up verses of their bedtime song.
Not to mention that watching hours of Pepa Pig, Paw Patrol, or Dora makes you wish for the flagellation.
1. Charismatic Leader
Really dangerous cults have an extremely charismatic leader. Someone who can, with a smile and a well-placed word, make you feel like the most important person in the world. A person so lovable that everyone wants to be around them.
A baby will scream, poop, puke, pee, scream, pull your hair, and hit you with every body part. At two AM you’ll wake up, hearing them make a noise and you’ll beg every deity you’ve ever heard of that they don’t wake up.
Despite all that they’ll look up at you with those big eyes and make a cooing noise that will melt your heart and you’ll instantly forgive them. Their smile makes you feel utterly filled with love and when they snuggle into you, you feel a love like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. (Snuggling may actually be a baby’s way of trying to burrow into your chest to steal your heart.)
One big difference, thankfully, is the fact that parenthood rarely results in mass suicide.
Most parents call their unborn children things like peanut, or monkey. Your mother and I are not most people. Your parents are weird. We’re just as likely to get excited about Disney princesses as you are, we’re always saying quotes from movies and books, and we love games.
You’re now -181 days, and I don’t think your existence has fully sunk in. I’m not quite sure what I’m in for and that’s the first secret I have to tell you.
Despite what I’ll say, I do not know everything. I’m not perfect and I’ll make mistakes. Hopefully by the time you realize it, it won’t shatter your trust or belief in me.
I may not be perfect but I will try my best to take care of you and no matter what I’ll always love you.
If I have one hope for you, it’s that you’re never afraid to confide in me or your mother. We want nothing but the best for you, no matter what that ends up being.