Not Even James Van Der Beek Can Explain What Parenthood Feels Like to Me -- Can You?
By MaybeBabyMaybeNotLiz on April 03, 2012
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So my bizarre claim to fame (if it can be called that) is that apparently James Van Der Beek and I used to toddle around in our diapers together in a plastic wading pool in our mutual hometown of Cheshire, Connecticut. I have no recollection of this, but I’m sure Dawson often looks poignantly into the distance and wonders what became of little Lizzy.
Or maybe not. He’s a little busy these days with the stork recently dropping off his second kid. His tweet on the day his son arrived somehow managed to avoid the standard “mom and baby are doing fine” or “we are so blessed!” (C’mon people, I know things are a little nuts in the delivery room, but can’t we come up with something more creative?) James did -- this is what he had to say instead:
Had my first son this morning... well, actually, my wife had him. I just caught him. Wow. Heart expanding way faster than my brain...— James Van Der Beek (@vanderjames) March 13, 2012
If you could bottle up and distribute this feeling, I swear there'd be no more war. #fatherhood— James Van Der Beek (@vanderjames) March 13, 2012
Whoa. No more war? That’s a pretty hardcore statement, Mox.
I must admit -- I’m not sure I’ve ever felt something quite on that level. I mean, the moment I adopted my cats was nice, but Jacques was a bit of a pain in the ass, chewing on my pen while I signed the papers. Getting married was pretty awesome too, but I was heartily distracted by the fact that my caterers didn’t offer Labatt’s as one of our beer choices. Perhaps the closest I’ve come to this overwhelming emotion was my kickball team winning the 2006 Dogtown Division championship and celebrating in a shower of Andre champagne (nothing but the best for us).
But even THIS I wouldn’t describe as having the power to end all war. And with a statement like that, I guess I’m intrigued.
So What IS This Feeling?
Most new parents, when trying to capture this emotion, spout off some variation of It’s the most indescribable feeling… which is somewhat problematic for me in that they can’t seem to describe it. It evidently just has to be experienced. Or they say something like, Man, when they put that baby in your arms… and then they just shake their heads. Also not tremendously helpful.
I hate the idea that there’s this wildly powerful emotion running around out there in the world that I might never catch. But is the curiosity over this feeling enough to justify the lifelong commitment, expense, blah, blah, blah, of a child? Seems like a tough bargain.
The Other Un-Feelables
Maybe it’s okay that I won’t get to experience this feeling. There are countless other mind-blowing adrenaline rushes I’m going to miss out on as well -- diving off a bridge with a flimsy bungee rope around my ankle and dashing over hot coals are not high on my To-Do List. We’ve all met those passionate skydivers -- (You gotta do it -- biggest rush you’ll ever get!) -- and we just sort of laugh them off. Why risk your life for one wild thrill? Now I know having kids isn’t risking your life (except for the 529,000 women who die each year from childbirth complications). But in a way, children are the death of your private life -- or at least your social life as you know it. So why is this surge of parental love -- those few shining moments in a sea of temper tantrums -- the one intense emotion that one that everyone says you can’t afford to miss?
Am I Even Capable of This Feeling?
I don’t cry easily. I don’t cry ever, really, unless Victor Newman has once again smashed someone’s heart on The Young & The Restless. Drew and I have been together for six years and I’m not sure he’s ever witnessed a Liz tear. But the day my friend Emily had her first baby and her mom ushered us into the hospital room an hour later, I got a little misty. Was it from seeing baby Liam? Seeing Nick holding him for the first time -- some contact parental high? Or was it seeing my friend Emily in a hospital bed, looking doped out of her mind and paler than a Downton Abbey servant in winter? Because I had a similar reaction when we visited her in that same hospital six months later after an emergency appendix removal. Maybe I was overcome with fear instead of joy.
Perhaps I’m made of stone. Or it’s my German ancestry (we are a harsh people). But all this overwhelming emotion stuff? I’m just not sure that would even happen for me. Or maybe everyone’s just done a crappy job of explaining it.
Parents who are reading – can any of you do a better job of articulating this?
PS, The photo at the top is of me and my little bro in Cheshire -- or maybe it’s James? Who can tell, my mother was too busy chasing three kids around to label photos.
PPS, Just in case my enthusiasm for winning our kickball tournament was ever in doubt, please see the photo below. And please note the upside-down plaque. This is what happens after an Andre shower.
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