We are all free to want a child. And yet, having a child is not a guarantee in this world. It is not a right, or something that must occur as matter of course, or biology, or law, or desire, or science, or deservedness, or fact, or entitlement, or religious decree, or through any other measure or process of reasoning one can fabricate.
Having a child is a privilege that comes with an immeasurable amount of gravity and responsibility, and with implications that reverberate far beyond our narrow sphere of understanding. Intrinsically we know this, and perhaps this is why we clamour for such a precious gift to be bestowed on us, even if our ideas about the actual process stray far from the truth. Perhaps, this is why we approach childbirth - and if one's mind stretches so far, parenting - with so many hopes, ideals, and expectations.
Perhaps this is why we expect others to do the same, and why we are confused when our notions are not met with an equal amount of excitement. Maybe this is why we believe that every childless woman is simply biding her time until impregnation, or that it is our duty to bear a child once we reach a certain age, or that our lives are incomplete without children and the accoutrements of parenthood, or that a family with one child should waste no time in creating another, or that childless married couples must want nothing more than to have a kid or two. Or three.
As I have been granted the opportunity to bring a second young soul into this reality, I find myself yet again staring out into the great unknown. And whilst I stand there, present and thankful and joyous in the moment, I have become even more disenchanted with the expectations heaped upon pregnant women, mothers, and families than I was before.
I am at odds with the constant expectation that a pregnant woman should be glowing with excitement, should gush - on cue - about the joys of pregnancy, should reach (or should not) reach a certain size at any given month, should not feel disillusioned and burdened by the unquantifiable and utterly random number of graven maladies that befall gestation, should be consumed with baby preparations, should want to be rubbed on her ungainly and painfully heaving belly, should welcome the barrage of unwanted questioning that renders her little more than a pregnancy.
Do you want a girl or a boy? Do you have a name? What's the name? Do you feel like you did before? Is it different? What kind of sibling does your son want? Is he excited? Are you excited? Is your husband excited? Is the whole universe excited?
We put so much focus on the 'having' of a child that we forget ourselves.
We forget our responsibilities to the very same child that did not ask to be born. We forget our insignificant place in the grand scheme of things. And we forget that the real excitement only grows manifold with each passing year the child is blessed with life on an earth where so many are not given an equal chance to exist. We ensnare ourselves and each other with our expectations, and then find it difficult to unpick the ties when they begin to strangle us.
Here's to approaching this process anew, and with little more than gratefulness, contentment, and love.