It seems to happen to all of them eventually. even the
best ones. my friends, my family members, my sisters, my
teachers, my work partners, my travel partners. young,
old, blonde, blue-eyed, bald. people I like, people i love,
people i respect, even people who I don’t really have any
opinion about. they all become parents. eventually.
parenting, it seems, does not discriminate.
so I’m trying, as a single, offspring-free guy, to not
discriminate against parents.
but it’s hard. I have my favorites.
see, they all have such different ways of being parents.
no one seems to do it by the book. and it has nothing to do
with who they are as humans. at least not on the surface.
it seems that they surprise you with their parenting ways.
take Hilary for example. who knew that she would be one
of the most maternal people i know. her boy – and my
freshest godson- luka (pictured above) arrived in late
february. and the truth is, nothing has really changed
about Hilary except all of her best qualities have been
illuminated. and some of her other traits have been
muted. she still has energy – maybe more so. she still
plans and follows up on her plans. and plans on
following up on the plans that she hasn’t even planned on
making yet. she is still girl-like energy. she still hikes
daily, she still yogas excessively. she is still very much
Hilary. but she’s become calmer and sweeter and gentler
and more shall we say laissez-faire. she doesn’t control
the child, the child doesn’t control her. it’s pretty great
to watch. they are kind of doing a little dance. when i ask
her, ‘can you believe you have a baby?’ she just says, yes.
she is going with it. it helps that he’s calm, mellow and
smiley and that her husband, helps out. they must have
some sort of deal that in exchange for his 80 mile bike
ride a day, he changes a couple diapers each night.
something. but it works. he likes the kid. and he took care
of the infant boy for a week while Hilary was in Cannes
(still Hilary!)
after years of watching morbidly from the sidelines, I
have stopped trying to figure out how people become
parents. it just happens. no matter how gracefully or
awkwardly they slide into it. and before you know it, you
hardly seem to recognize them as the person they were
without children. it’s weird…like they’ve always had one.
and maybe in some ways they always did, they were just
waiting for it to arrive.
Hilary’s father said the other night, it’s like her mother
light switch went on. she just is a mother.
i just spent four beautiful days with the widow of dr.
stock, talking about his life story. what i didn’t know,
what many have forgotten is that the first to words of his
million selling book is this:
trust yourself (you know more than you think you do)
as a parent, that’s the advice he gave. then he filled 200
some pages with very specific detailed advice – the
answers – so that they will put their trust in him – or the
book. kinda like religion. have faith – but do everything
this book and your elders say. or else…
but he was the expert in a time when there was none. at
the baby boom. the pre-google, google of baby care topics.
the place our mothers and grandmother’s went when our
poop turned green and blue and like a fire hydrant
spraying all over the sofa or when we couldn’t stop
crying or when they wanted to discipline us and the
spanking a day didn’t seem to be enough (it worked for my
parents, that’s for sure)
what he believed – and learned for himself – is that self
trust is the best way to be a parent – and a human – for
that matter. we all know how to be parents. in just the
same way that we all know how to be friends, lovers, sons,
daughters. sometimes messy, but mostly loving.
hilary is the third (at least) round of friends who have
pro-created. or as i call it replicated. it would seem so
much like making a mini photocopy of self – if it weren’t
for the fact that they seem to develop their own
personalities real quick. like in the womb. before they
start crying because we have interrupted that nice long
fetal nap.
the first round of baby making was when i was married in
my twenties in the eighties and our couple friends and my
siblings were multiplying, duplicating themselves. in my
thirties, it was a new generation and a new intent, people
who waited and were getting married (or not getting
married at all) but decided to extend themselves into
another little human. the kids weren’t defining them as
much as they were defining their kids.
now i’m surrounded by people in second marriages with
first families. or second families in first marriages. they
are petri-dishing, sperm stealing. surrogating. my
neighbor is adopting. it’s taken her 4 years and she’s still
on a waiting list. it’s random. i know single woman who
would do anything to be a mother and some single men who
have made designer babies and are on their 3rd kid in 10
having kids is a beautiful thing. except when they cry, or
shit, or grow up.
This friday my nephew Taylor will graduate from high
school. he is the last of Diana and mark’s boys to graduate
from my hometown high school. he is the brother of
Dustin and Aaron the original uncle hollywood boys. I
can’t imagine the gap that will be there not having his
father in the crowd. unfortunately, he will have good
company in too many other boys in his social circle who
are missing a parent. the hollowed absence must define
the importance of such a person.
his passage is a life change for him for sure. for Diana it
means an entire chapter of her life seems to be closing.
she is graduating as a parent. kinda. or the role is just
taking a new shape. as i learned, the relationship with
parent can change as my dad travelled to Sweden to
discover where his roots, his ‘ancestral’ parents came
from. we spend a lifetime getting to know our parents,
they us and in turn ourselves through each other.
as i get to know Spock’s personal story, it seems as though
his wisdom comes as a response to his immersion in
psychological and freudian intelligence as well as his
own mother’s heavy hand. i think all of our instincts for
or against parenting or certain types of child rearing, is
borne out of our own experience – embracing or rejecting
or somewhere in between.
I have no children but it’s true what a teacher of mine
once said. don’t worry if you never become a biological
father – there are so many ways to be a parent. what
sounded once like a bad consolation prize – makes sense
to me now. I thought about that this spring break as i
spent a beautiful week in new york city helping buy prom
dresses for my 17-year-old god-daughter triplets or just
yesterday when i received a card from god-daughter army
saying really nice things that almost made me cry.
maybe there’s is not only a biological clock that ticks, but
a spiritual clock too. one that wants to love and nurture
and be taught by the younger, more innocent ones. the
children. babies and kids of our lives. i have many god
children and nieces and nephews and some of my best
friends generously share their kids.
the truth is I celebrate them all. and am in awe of the
selfishness it requires and the self-seeking that it
inspires. no matter how they parent, they are doing it. and
I am watching. in some ways being parented by them as I
they discipline with kindness or firmness, they walk
trough grief and loss with dignity and insanity, they spank
them or ground them or love them too much or not
enough, who am I to judge? I trust the ones that trust
themselves. and become surprised to learn that just
because someone is a good friend, or family member,
doesn’t mean I would want to be their child…and vice
I guess we have to trust that we somehow have made our
way to the perfect parents.
who knew that it was trust – of all things – that is the
foundation of all good parenting. i guess spock did. you
just have to read the first page. and go from there. we
all know more than we think we do.
i think.