[BlogEntry] The Physics of Baby Stories

Over the last week or so we got a chance to visit with two different sets of recently married friends. One just had a baby, and one just found out they're expecting a baby. In both conversations the following idea came up, so I thought I'd blog about it. That idea is this:

For every baby story someone tells you, you are going to learn that you'll experience that exact story, and yet it will be completely unique to you.

Here's the problem. Once you either get pregnant or have a baby, people are going to come out of the woodwork to tell you what to expect. Most people are not courteous enough to properly tell "here's what happened to us" stories, they will tell you "here's what's going to happen to you" stories. These stories are well intentioned. They want to bond with you over the shared experience you're about to have. They want to help by imparting their wisdom based on their own experience.

However, it's logical for you to get defensive over it, because for someone to tell you what you're going to experience (as well as how you're going to feel and react) before it ever happens, well, that makes it seem like they're taking the experience away from you. It lessens the anticipation. Your natural instinct is to say "Not me!" and then, even if it does play out exactly as the person told you it would, your subconscious can't even see it because darnit you want the experience to be yours, not this other person's. The problem with this is that you're isolating yourself from what should be a great support community. You just had a baby, for pete's sake, and you want to distance yourself from other people with babies? Not a good idea. You should want to bring them closer so that when you need to say Help! they're there for you.

Hence the paradox. Much like light exists as both wave and particle (physics, see?), baby stories exist in both past and future. They happened, past tense, to me. They will happen, future tense, to you. The great thing is that they will still be similar enough that you should feel fine saying, "Yup, that happened to me too!" while at the same time being able to tell the story as if it was yours to begin with. They're handed down from parent to parent. But I'm not handing down "The story of when Elizabeth threw up three times at 4am", I'm handing down the story of "My kid threw up in the middle of the night." It was handed down to me. You'll hand it down to somebody else.

Nobody has claim to baby stories. Telling you one does not lessen your own ability to tell it for your own situation. Each version of the story is as valuable as the next one. When you tell them, tell them with that in mind. And when you're being forced to listen to them, keep that in mind as well. The storyteller simply wants to have some common ground to share with you. You don't have to push the person away for that. You'll probably find yourself in the role of storyteller soon enough.