Friday, May 05, 2006

This or That

I work at a university, so I am constantly reminded of my college days – oh look, the bars are already busy, well it is Thursday after 5pm. Or - I used to wear clothes that small – well, maybe not small. (I have ever been averse to showing a lot of midsection). Or - remember when I thought that “sleep deprivation” occurred during finals week.

Well, now I’m a parent, and I know about real sleep deprivation, wear clothes that are designed to cover and camouflage, and hardly ever drink on Thursday evenings. Come to think of it, I hardly drink at all. That’s what having kids will do to you.

But recently I have started to feel nostalgic for the carefree-ness of college life. You know, when your life is filled with decisions about studying vs. calling that cute guy, or studying vs. chatting with your friends. When the Financial Aid and Bursar’s Office is your biggest enemy and getting up for a 9am class seems like torture.

Now, my life is filled with hard decisions. And I don’t mean the hard decisions about balancing work and family or what discipline methods to use with my particular child. I’m talking about the smaller hard decisions that, at the time, I’m not sure I even knew I was making.

For example, when at the age of 28, I decided to have a baby; I never framed the decision as: Hot Body or Have Baby? But that, indeed, was the decision that was made. Oh sure, I can wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes, but my body is different – and decidedly not hot. I will never again have a flat tummy, and I don’t think one’s hips become narrower a few years post-partum. At least mine haven’t. I’m not saying all this to get SRH to say “You’re still hot honey!” I do feel attractive and appreciated by SRH. I’m just saying that I actually thought, Nine months in, Nine months out and back to my old self. Just typing that makes me want to snort in derision at my former naiveté.

Another hard decision that we made early on was Orthodontics or Psychotherapy? At least we went into this one with eyes wide open, though. The pediatrician was clear about pacifiers. I believe she actually said, “Make your decision now – is he going to have braces (keeping the pacifier) or is he going to psychotherapy (taking it away)?” SRH and I decided that our kid was probably going to need braces anyway. We both had them. Just playing the odds there. What I didn’t count on was that our kid was going to probably need therapy as well. I mean, really, we’re his parents. We’re doing our best, but you can be sure we’re messing lots of things up daily. So to the orthodonture vs. psychotherapy question, we choose to answer a resounding YES to both!

The final decision has to do with the sleeping situation. I know, I know. I am not trying to stir up long held, deep seeded beliefs about the place of children while sleeping, but here was how the decision was for my family. The question was Co-Sleep or No Sleep? Zane’s food allergies started to manifest in earnest when he was 10 weeks old. The details are painful and, well, too detailed. Suffice it to say that for months we slept – or didn’t sleep – while managing allergy symptoms that tended to rise to crisis proportions between midnight and 5am. Then the asthma kicked in, and we started doing breathing treatments every 2-4 hours for days in a row.

Outcome: Big Z sleeps in our bed. It is all about survival, I tell you. I know that some folks have very strong feelings about co-sleeping – both for and against, but I have to tell you that, philosophies aside, we just find co-sleeping easier. I’m not waving the flag of I’m-a-more-nurturing-parenting-by-sleeping-with-my-child. My flag is more one of surrender, more of a well-this-is-an-okay-arrangement-for-now-at-least-we’re-sleeping kind of banner.

Sometimes I am amazed at how the little hard decisions add up: I wake up in bed next to my kid who’s sucking a pacifier and has his hand on my flabby tummy. But most days, I think we’re doing completely okay.

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