Lately, I've been thinking: what if we held the same expectations of our real flesh and blood kids that we hold for the creative projects we are trying to birth? What if our sweet little children were subjected to the kinds of expectations that we bring to our novels, screenplays, painting series, new businesses, or other creative 'babies'?
If we did, I'm afraid our letters to our unborn children might sound something like this:
My Dearest Unborn Child,
I am so excited about you! I can lie on the couch for hours daydreaming about the day you will finally be in the world. It gives me a thrill just to imagine you finally being really here where I can see you all complete and shiny and new and touch you and share you with everyone. I love the thought of you so much, I can hardly stand it!
Before you arrive, I wanted to write this letter to share my hopes for your wonderful life and to let you know a few things that would really help me feel ready to fully commit to giving birth to you.
First, I'm going to need some assurances that you will come out perfectly, just as I've imagined you. I guess that sounds kind of harsh, but don't get me wrong, I'm actually quite flexible on this point! I'm totally open to any of the following options: you can either be inarguably beautiful - stunning really; or, it's also acceptable if you are just highly attractive and intriguing in a quirky and original way; or (if you must) I think I can live with it if you are shockingly different from anyone that has ever been born before - as long as your uniqueness is universally pleasing and easy for others to instantly 'get.' (You need to know that this last option will put some strain on me for awhile until people catch on to how amazingly unique you are and stop expecting you to meet their banal existing ideas about beauty, but my sense is that it might be worth it to me in the long run. So you just do you!)
In a related area - and I'm sure you already know this - I'll need to be pretty certain that you will never embarrass me, or make me feel bad about something I didn't do well enough, or make me look weird or silly in front of people whose opinion matters to me. There is a fine line between quirky/cool and just plain weird and unlovable, so I need some assurances that you won't come out TOO odd, or lumpy, or hard to understand.
In case I haven't made it fully clear, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you never incite criticism or rejection. That is a huge deal-breaker for me. If you could just be sure to be universally loved and acclaimed, we'll get along fine. Otherwise, I'm not sure I can justify the pretty significant time and energy it's going to require to bring you into the world. I'm sure you can understand. I mean, I want to be sure I don't look back years from now and question my decision to have you, like "geez, what was I thinking?"
Oh, and while we're talking about unnecessary time-sucks, I'm going to need you not to be one. I'd really like some guarantee that you will not suddenly lead me in random directions I wasn't expecting to go, or ask me to go slower than I find comfortable, or take me down weird side alleys trailing after something you're certain is a magical butterfly but turns out to be a regular housefly. I have taken great care to lay out a plan for you, so let's just stick to that, ok?
I think you should also know that if I do start to feel anxious or scared about where you are taking me, I'm probably going to just give up and look for something easier to raise. I just really prefer to feel like my time is being well used in the most productive possible ways. No hard feelings, ok?
It would also be very helpful if you would give some serious thought to how you can make yourself fun and easy to be with, at least let's say 80% - 90% of the time. I mean, I totally want to be with you all the time, as long as it feels really effortless and joyful. If it is going to be like some kind of exhausting wrestling match, I'm not sure that's really what I'm up for.
Oh, and, by the way, I've heard rumors that little growing creatures like you tend to prefer some attention Every. Single. Day. Whoa. Can that be right? I have to say, don't you think that's a bit unrealistic? It just sounds like a lot. So how about this: I promise to connect deeply with you every single day that I really really feel like it. Cool?
I just can't wait to be the lucky person who gets to support you and help you be your very best self! I should let you know, though (fair warning!) that if there's anything about your growth and development that I don't already know how to help you through, or if I'm going to need any skills and tools that I don't already feel super-competent with, you're probably (definitely) going to be on your own. I think you'll understand this later, but it just feels really crappy to doubt my abilities or question myself in any way, plus learning stuff is hard - as you'll find out soon enough for yourself - and I really hate how awkward it feels before I get some competence under my belt. I would REALLY hate for the other parents to look at me like I don't know what I'm doing. You get it.
As I think about your amazing future, I know it is going to be so bright! But, I can already tell that letting you go is going to be kind of tough for me. Partly of course because I love you so and want to bask in our together time. And also partly because of that first thing we talked about in terms of my needing to be sure that you won't ever be judged negatively or criticized in any way. I'm now thinking that I might just keep you somewhere close and safe and not ever let you be seen by others. Maybe gestate you forever? Hope you're good with that. Togetherness!
If I DO let you go, I would like to know up front ASAP exactly where you are going to live when you move out of my care - it would be really helpful if you could just guarantee that you have a place in the world where you will be sure to have a safe and loving home. If possible, I'd like to know exactly where that will be BEFORE you are born so I'll feel more secure about bringing you into the world. And, not to belabor this point, but we do have my later years to think of, so if you could make it a priority to let me know early on that you'll be doing your part to generate some serious cash, that'd be super. I know you won't want me to feel like the time and energies I pour into you aren't going to bring big returns down the road. Thanks for understanding.
I guess that's it!
Again, I can't say enough about how much I love the very thought of you, and can't wait to have you in my life. I can close my eyes right now and it's like you are already born - complete, perfect, and gorgeous in every way.
Yours forever and ever (or until I get discouraged and give up),
Sara Saltee is a creativity coach who helps writers, visual artists, and other creators discover their creative identities and get going on the projects they are meant to complete. She's also an assemblage artist who builds harmonious little worlds in shrines and shadow-boxes. www.sarasaltee.com. email: email@example.com