Albert Garland hates his unborn twins. And I, for one, can’t blame him.
Aside from that, the first thing you should know about Garland is that, well, “Albert Garland” isn’t his real name: It’s a pseudonym he adopted … so that he could write, for Babble.com, about how much he and his wife are dreading the arrival of their unborn twin boys.
Our fear is not the new parent fear of the unknown. It’s the smart, informed fear of the known. Our biggest nightmare is that we’ll have colic again, or double colic. This time around, we’re counting down — not like expected parents but like cancer patients with only months to live. Enjoy life while you can, for soon it’s double the diapers, double the feedings. Half of zero sleep is … less than zero?
So tell me how this isn’t going to suck.
Now, a few other things you should know about Albert and his wife:
• They got the twin boys because they were trying to have a single girl, to balance out the boy they already had. They ended up using a fertility clinic to achieve their pregnancy—so complaining about the results is admittedly the churlish “white people problems” kind of thing that will, naturally, make people hate you.
• The couple considered aborting one of the twins—hoped for a reason to do so, in fact, but didn’t get one. So they’re going to carry the twins to term and then, it appears, raise them. Garland’s essay appears to be, well, a rather high-profile, semi-public act of venting before the getting down to work and being a parent.
Naturally, the piece has provoked a bit of a backlash—mostly, it seems, from the pro-life right.
“What a small, contemptible, inhumane vision this pseudonymously named Albert Garland has,” former Philadelphian Rod Dreher wrote at The American Conservative. “You know what, Albert Garland? It’s going to suck far, far worse for those poor boys. I wish you and that princess wife of yours would give those babies up for adoption to a home where they will be welcomed and cherished. Your think your punishment is having twins you don’t want in the house. Your real punishment is having to be you.”
You’d think Albert Garland is the first parent to acknowledge that raising kids isn’t all sweetness and candy corn. Sometimes it even sucks.
Me? I think Albert Garland is going to be alright. I think his kids are going to be alright. And I also think he’s right to be, well, scared of what’s coming. I remember well the first year of parenting just one infant—the lack of sleep turned those months into a bit of a waking hell. And then it was over. Parenting is hard. Parenting an infant is really hard. Doubling that up—as my Philly Mag colleague Steve Volk has noted—can be really, really hard. Seeing that experience come toward you, knowing what it will be like, must be a bit like sliding across the ice toward an oncoming 18-wheeler: You have a lot of time to anticipate the inevitable pain.
It’s harder to see through that dread and anticipate how much love you’re going to find as a result.
The thing that perplexes me about the reaction of pro-lifers is this: Garland and his wife made the choice pro-lifers would have them make. Yes, they had moments where they thought about having an abortion, but in the end they’re still choosing to carry the kids to term. Why is that not enough for now? Why not extend Garland and his wife support for the choice they’ve made, acknowledge the rough road ahead, and offer support for that journey as well? Why the dripping contempt? Why not a little sympathy?
Mr. Garland: You have my sympathy. Parenting can be a real pain. Those twins are going to be hard to manage for a few months, and possibly forever. Fear and anger are natural reactions to the prospect of sleepless nights for months on end. To borrow a phrase: It gets better.
Humans have been parenting for millennia. You live through the rough times, love the hell out of your kids—sometimes discovering it in completely unexpected times and situations—and in the end wonder how you survived it all. Which is what I will predict will happen to you. You hate your unborn twins now. I suspect that won’t always be the case. Good luck.