I’ve been on the road non-stop lately, in Europe and in the New England region of the U.S., because I just started a new job. Starting a new job is always both exhilarating and nerve-racking, what with trying to “drink from the fire-hydrant” and absorb everything as quickly as possible while simultaneously obsessing over how you’re going to prove to the company that they made the best choice in hiring you. No pressure at all, right? Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you think about it), the nature of my job and career has meant that I have a lot of experience starting in new companies – so this is old hat in some respects. The thing that’s new this time is that, for the first time in my career, I’m not sitting in a hotel room alone wondering for a single second why I’m doing this. I know why I’m doing this: it’s because I want my children to have the best start in life possible. Not so they’ll become spoiled and entitled brats, but so that they can fully appreciate the fucked up but still astoundingly beautiful world that they’re coming into.
I grew up in Southern California, an area criss-crossed with asphalt arteries in a constant state of gridlock. I remember growing up, staring through chainlink fences at shimmering, sepia car headlights clogging Los Angeles freeways – wondering with envy and fear where all of those people were going. It was that same fear that kept me from going away to college, unable to imagine living anywhere but Southern California. The unfamiliar makes everyone a little nervous: that’s probably why many people feel uncomfortable around homeless people and foreign cultures. That’s also in part why, I would imagine, I recently heard a TSA agent complain that passengers didn’t understand English – in the International terminal no less.
I hope to give my children enough confidence so that they embrace new experiences, something I would have never have done if it weren’t for some absolutely amazing people in my life. And I don’t just mean five-star restaurants in Paris or Manhattan: I want them to also notice and care about homeless people sleeping on subway grates. And I also want them to appreciate the wild grandeur of the American national park system, equally savoring a meal of hot dogs and s’mores in front of a campfire as much as escargot and duck à l’orange in a Parisian café. Perhaps my expectations are high, but I take comfort in the fact that – unlike my father – I really don’t care what careers my kids pursue. Eternally disappointed that I didn’t go to medical school, my father said at my younger brother’s graduation from medical school, “at least I succeeded with one.”
Anyhow, as long as they grow up to be compassionate and aware people, I’ll be content. Although I certainly won’t complain if they go to Harvard, Stanford, or Oxford. On full scholastic scholarships. She, he, or both of them could grow up to be President of the United States – their Dad might like that. Joking aside, I fervently hope and pray that they grow up strong and confident enough to blaze their own trails.
I’m over the moon super excited because our gestational surrogate texted us while I was in Paris, telling us she felt one or both of the babies move for the first time. How amazing is that?! Just two more weeks until our big 20 week OB appointment – the halfway point! Being away from my husband maybe makes that milestone appointment even more exciting for me. I don’t tend to sleep well in general (#insomniac), and traveling across multiple time zones doesn’t help. But at least I know why I’m doing this, and how many miles before I can be at home with my husband and children.