Thursday, May 31, 2007


How do you see your future? How do you prepare yourself for the future, as in, do you do anything or do you roll with the punches?

I had a long talk today with The Kid's therapist. He told me, in as nicely and non-judgementally a way as one could, that I am a fatalist. I think in worst-case scenarios. That is not to say that I expect certain bad things to happen in the future (specifically, this came up because I voiced a concern that the rest of my life will be spent taking care of The Kid in one way or another, and I have to recognize that with his diagnosis that there are social lures that exist, or the typical 'pitfalls' of bipolar--drugs, alcohol, spending, etc), but I am just really aware of all of the bad things that could happen. I'm not an anxious person, I'm not a depressed person. I think I'm realistic. I also respond to the stress of being The Kid's parent by researching. I'm an academic, and I have always felt like if I know as much as I possibly can about something, I will be able to handle it, handle anything.

When I found out I was pregnant, I chucked my master's thesis out the window. I've never looked back. Instead, I dove headfirst into everything I could get my hands on about childbirth. Childbirth, but, Natural. I read medical books, advice books, lay-medical books, apparently I also read this book (according to my sister), and all sorts of hippie midwifery books. I think it's fair to say that by the time The Kid came to town, I knew everything about birthin' babies (that one could learn from reading a book, which, as you can imagine, is a far cry from knowing the first thing about childbirth, but anyway).

With years of perspective, I realize that I did all of that preparing and reading and Kegels and meditating and hotshot knowitall bullshit to prove to myself that I could be a mom in the first place.

So, what am I doing right now? What kind of hotshot knowitall bullshit am I pulling with myself right now?

I haven't the slightest, but I'm certain the fatalism isn't new to The Kid. I think I have this perspective on life, borne from a very happy life, marked with a series of significant losses from pretty early on (my father, my grandfather, my uncles, and so on), that generally, life is worth it, and good, but that bad things are going to happen. It's so Mark Twain-ish to say, but one thing we can count on in life is that we will go through periods of complete sadness, maybe misery.

That's a view of my whole life. I am not entitled to be happy, which is why I am a happy person. I know that sad is always around the corner, but it's definitely coming, so why anticipate it too much, like how the first snowfall of the season will always end the pleasantness of autumn.

But when it comes to The Kid, and all of the billions of possiblities that exist for his future... Am I wrong in reading up on the worst, just in case I need to know it? I don't sit around and plot interventions. I don't expect a life plagued with problems for him, I just know that if it hasn't been easy thusfar, it's bound to continue in a similar pattern, right?

So, The Kid's therapist called me a fatalist today. I'm actually perfectly okay with that title. Molly G, Fatalist. [Ms. Dillinger, can you please make me a label?]

But you know what? You wanna know why this has turned into a blog post? He did annoy me when he tried to 'remind' me of all of The Kid's strengths, and that he knows kids who have gone on to live very productive, mental-illness-free lives after having tough goes during childhood. I say, DUDE, I'm aware of that outcome too. I PRAY for that outcome. But I just can't be caught unaware. I'm an academic by nature. I live to be in the know.

But I still wonder if I'll look back on all of my current reading and writing on this subject some day, like I can about the childbirth stuff, and identify it. Ah, this is what I was compensating for, or Oh, I can see how I was preoccupying myself back then.

And here's the part where I tell you, and remind myself, that hindsight is also best left unanticipated, because, well, it just shows up one day. I guess I'll just wait.


Alison said...

I think you're a fatalist in the sense that you will accept and deal with whatever's thrown in your path. And if you know there's a possibility that something bad's going to show up, and you actually know what that thing could be, of course you want to be prepared for it. Just in case. It's your bomb shelter in the backyard.

I don't know crap about parenting. But I know about ups and downs. I don't see the future, to be quite frank. I just don't. I can't picture it. Because when I do, it tends to be worst case scenario. But I LOVE that I've gotten to a place where I can actually live in and enjoy the present. Can't ask for much more than that.

Diane said...

He's looking at this with a positive spin. He's not as vested, he's not the parent.

Your being realistic and wise from where I sit. I believe in being prepared.

We don't know what the future holds for us, but we do know within certain parameters what is probable given our kids' issues.

Leslie Dillinger said...

I think you are absolutely being a rock star parent. I've thought so from the very beginning. So don't worry about what this guys says. You know you're handling things in the best possible way.

Leslie Dillinger said...

Oh, and I made you a label. I will give it to Mr. Lady to give to you.

Peggy said...

Here's my spin, Molls. Fatalist is negative. I think you've always considered yourself pretty positive and optimistic (and I would agree that you are). I think Mr. Therapist threw you for a little loop by pointing out that you were anticipating bad, when usually (in reality and in your own mind) you anticipate good. He called you on it, but not as a general diagnosis. I think he was asking you to see all possibilities in the arc of vision you were talking with him about. You didn't need him to call you on it, but he did it anyway.
I'm just gonna say that if you are academic, if you indeed research all the possibilities, then you research and anticipate the good outcomes, too. But you know what? I don't have to tell you that. I know you already do anticipate them.
Anyway, so what I'm trying to say is DITCH the Fatalist label. Embrace your inner REALIST.
Don't let some dude with wacky eyeglasses label you. Let YOU label YOU, and if you let anyone else label you - allow it to be us, your family and friends. I don't think we'd even come up with FATALIST in our collective top 635,945 words to describe Molly ...