For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
The way I assimilate change is to try to understand it. I research it. Having head knowledge helps me feel more in control of situations I’ve never encountered before, even when head knowledge doesn’t guarantee success for those situations.
When I was in high school, I took a class called Athletic Injury. It covered, very lightly, types of athletic injuries high school athletes encountered and various ways of identifying and treating them. I found it deeply fascinating. But when it came down to it, I wasn’t very good at it. Wrapping tape to immobilize a thumb or mitigate shin splints eluded my normally straight-A-student skills. To compensate, I read the textbook diligently. I practically memorized the book and spent hours practicing taping a variety of patient
victims friends and family. In the end I did just fine in the class, but I worked harder in that class than most of my standard academic classes.
(After that, I decided hands-on wasn’t really my forte, and stuck to more traditional academic subjects. Now I kind of wish I’d pursued more such outside-the-box classes. I remember enjoying Athletic Injury more than most other classes, and I could very well have ended up some kind of occupational/physical therapist, which I probably would’ve done very well, given the mix of communication/human interaction, science/knowledge, and hands-on required in such careers.)
Anyway, all this to say that I’ve been reading books about parenting, despite the fact that (a) I probably won’t remember more than 5% of what I read now, and I’ll implement even less; and (b) Parenting seems to involve as much instinctual behavior as deliberate choices and odds are I’ll be operating on autopilot most of the time anyway. Reading, thinking, and talking about how we’re going to deal with the boy when he gets here is my way of starting to accept the reality that he is coming.
One thing that all this reading has done is help us start figuring out priorities. Mostly we anticipate being pretty laid-back parents, with less in the way of highly scheduled calendars and more in the way of back yard mud time. But one thing I’m realizing: Sleep is really important to me, even more than to Ian. I don’t caffeinate to get by when I’m tired; I go to bed earlier. Even before I got pregnant, I regularly slept 8 to 9 hours a night, sometimes more. I almost never sacrifice sleep to play. I’ve learned that without adequate sleep, I turn into a horrifying combination between a brain-dead basketcase and a ravening monster — a zombie, perhaps, except instead of braaaaaaains I demand only rest.
One standard expectation I keep hearing: I’ll spend the first six to 12 months of the boy’s life stumbling around sleep-deprived and zombiefied. I dread this potential reality more deeply than anything else about having a child. However, a number of the books I’ve read suggest that endless broken nights aren’t mandatory for parents of infants, but instead are avoidable with certain deliberate decisions made early on in the child’s life. So if we don’t implement any other advice, I plan on following the baby sleep training advice with the diligence and tenacity of a marathon runner preparing for the Boston Marathon. Also, research indicates that adequate sleep is integral to child development, particularly early on. Thus, no compromises: I’m going to be a sleep Nazi. Other things may slide, but sleep won’t.
A topic I’ve found amusing to read about is how to “enhance” your child’s brain development or intelligence. In Brain Rules for Babies, I read with astonishment about parents who wanted to give their babies a boost before they were even born. Now, I don’t know much about psychology or even pregnancy, for that matter, but I’ve spent the last 24 weeks approaching pregnancy and our baby’s development pragmatically. I keep myself healthy — eating, exercising, and resting appropriately — and I trust that our baby will come out healthy, too. Never in a million years would I have considered, say, playing Mozart into my belly to enhance his math skills, or heaven forbid buying some in utero language training to “teach your child a second language before he’s born.”
I feel sorry for kids born into families so obsessed with getting ahead that they have to start achieving before birth. People only get to have a few carefree years as kids, and it does them a disservice to force them early into the kind of miserable, achievement-oriented, over-scheduled, distraction-laden, stressful life most adults endure these days.
* The title refers to this. Props if you knew that already.