Wednesday, March 5, 2014


My wife, my child, and I have been lucky enough to have had many visitors these past two weeks; many members of both of our extended and blended families have been by to see the new baby.  Indeed, my mother-in-law stayed with us for some time and has just now headed for her own home in the less-good parts of the Texas Hill Country.  (Austin is not my favorite place, as might be guessed.)  My own parents and both of my grandmothers are due in today, and while they will not be staying at Sherwood Cottage--space is a bit limited, and the one bathroom would be a problem for seven people trying to use it--they will be in town for several days.

The people who have visited have been of great help for the three of us; I wish to convey my gratitude for it.  My wife and I are still feeling our way around being parents--the kid is only two weeks old today--and having the advice of those who have been parents (typically more than once), as well as the practical demonstrations and the other aid, has been good.  (I am less worried about breaking the baby now than I was.  I remain concerned about what being my daughter will do to the poor girl.  There may be a surgeon general's warning tattooed on me somewhere--"has been shown to cause psychosis in laboratory animals" was the joke, I think.)

I do not want to flail about amid the cliché.  I have written on several occasions about my resistance to it and my annoyance with the careless phrasing that cliché often embodies.  Parenting, though, seems to want to frolic amid minefields of it, possibly because most if not all have some experience of parenting, either as recipient alone or as recipient and provider.  Many people have things to say, or think they do, and many of those things repeat one another until there is a pulsing pattern of cacophony, Tolkien's "many trumpets braying upon a few notes."*  While I will not say that I am not a fan of trumpet music played well, I will say that I have known trumpeters before, and when they seek to exalt themselves through is not always good.

There is the temptation to fall into the same mode, parroting that which has gone before.  I do not claim to have any original vision, certainly; I do not know enough of being a father to know what has been done, and so I cannot go with knowledge into what has not been done.  But I can work to be more mindful of what I do and not simply throw things out because they "sound good" or because they "are how it is done."  Things that work against themselves do not sound good upon a careful listening, and I operate under the assumption that those who listen do so intently (seeking to trap me, which is a paranoid line of thinking but one that has worked to my benefit before--people have tried to trap me).  The way things have been done may have worked once, but it may not work now--and it may well not have worked then, either.  (There have been assholes in all times.)

I do not want to be a cliché parent.  I want my daughter's upbringing to be of value.  And I do not think I can be faulted for it.

*Silmarillion, p. 5.

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