step 01 // narrow your playing field
step 02 // don’t victimize yourself
step 03 // make yourself a priority
step o4 // get away
step 05 // put down your phone
step 06 // break routine
step 07 // go to church
step 08 // share the care
step 09 // wait
This series has been fun, eye opening and at times challenging. But I am ready to move on to creamy desserts, mix tapes and bike coops. If you have any questions for me or want to converse about this subject more, you can email me at the link provided above. You can also follow my twitter handle @keepingwillow or @stacyfeyersalo on Instagram. Now, finally, I give you, step 10.
step 10 // ask a different question
The question we have been asking throughout this entire series is “how can you keep a baby from ruining your life?” Each step I have offered has begged to question the idea that we are taught from a young age, that having children will in fact ruin our lives. But what if the last step is simply asking a different question? Maybe it’s saying, whether or not a baby will ruin my life is not the bigger issue. Maybe there is something more important that I am not even considering.
So here is my proposition: rather than asking, “how do I keep a baby from ruining my life?”, maybe the better question is “how do we keep ourselves from ruining a baby’s life?”
What kind of world would we live in if humanity did a better job of asking this very question? What kind of abuse, neglect, and heart ache would disappear if we took the time to better ourselves in order to protect the innocent? What kind of people would we be if we decided to set an example for children, whether they are ours of not, of what the best kind of life can be? A life full of love, fidelity, health, kindness, fairness, joy, and self-control. It would be pretty crazy, incredible, right?
You see, the central reason why babies “ruin our lives”- and if you’re not a parent yet, you will discover this shortly after your child is born- is that we are exceedingly, self-centered creatures. You may think that you are the kind of person who doesn’t believe the world revolves around you, but wait until you cannot manage to have a moment to yourself, even to go to the bathroom, and your own basic needs are thwarted in order to provide for a helpless baby. Then suddenly, you become very conscious of your past selfishnesses and you want so badly to be selfish again.
I offer this as the last step because if we continually ask ourselves how we could possibly better ourselves for the children around us and the children to come, there will no longer be a need to ask how to keep a baby from ruining our lives. It would become an unfathomable question. It would force us to take an honest look at ourselves. Some may say, “maybe I wouldn’t be a very good parent. Maybe not everyone has to have children and if I didn’t it would be ok.” Those who do decide to have children may make wiser choices for themselves and their family.
This step may seem as idealistic as a solution for world peace, but, I offer this as a suggestion because we are agents of choice. You can change yourself, and that’s the big point. You can be the owner of your own thinking. We can question the social norms of our society and better educate people so they can make better choices for themselves. Although you may not be aware of it and though it may seem small, just like in the iconic Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, you make a difference in the lives of the people you are close to, in your greater community and even in the larger cosmos in ways that you may be unaware. How you live your life affects all of this. Your life matters.
Of all the steps I have offered, if you don’t move in with other people, you don’t stop having sex, or you never go on another vacation again in your life, I wouldn’t really give two flying rats. These steps were all lures to help you understand that the only person that will ever truly ruin your life is yourself. If you can accept that and maybe question your previous ideas of parenthood, then this entire series would have been a success.
The short time I have been a mother I have shifted from terror and grief over the life I thought I had lost to probably the most at peace and happy I have ever been. Because a new, beautiful life joined my already existing life, a life that never ended or went away. Being a mother is nothing like I had expected it to be because I always let someone else define that role for me. I hope that the lesson I learned, that there is no box or mold or fixed path for any stage in life, will stay with me my entire life.
May you live for a bigger picture than yourself, let life grab you and take you places you never expected, and choose things that make yourself and our world more rich, free, and beautiful. May you go against the grain when the grain doesn’t seem right. And may you never believe that a baby will ruin your life.