Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Change is Good
My husband and I have always tried to be hands-on parents. While we did not completely subscribe to attachment parenting, we nevertheless undertook many of the characteristics of that creed. I breast fed all three children to six months. During that magical time, they each spent more time sleeping with us than in their cribs.
It was not a decision brought about by ideology. On the contrary, it was all about getting more sleep. I discovered early into our first infant that nothing shuts up a screaming baby like a tit in her mouth. Of course married life had taught me that this worked very well for men, so it struck me as highly appropriate that it should work for the by-product of spending time with one. Rather than get out of bed, heat a bottle, rock the baby, go to bed, rinse, repeat every three hours, the baby would cry, my husband would sit up and move the baby to my opposite side, I would roll over, and we’d all go back to sleep. By the third child, we could do this without any of us waking up.
My youngest spent her first six months at my office. It was the height of the first dot com boom in the late 90’s, and my company quite literally couldn’t replace me. I politely told them I’d find another job at half again as much pay three months after the birth, or they could have me back immediately as long as I could bring in my baby. Maybe it wasn’t polite, but it worked.
They took the latter offer. I spent the last three months of my pregnancy attending bug meetings during which the engineering boy-man-children crunching the code stared at my roiling belly in horror, anticipating no doubt the emergence of an alien at any moment. Aeron herself dispelled all comparisons to Signorney Weaver as she sucked boob during project meetings after her birth. It was the first, last and only time I’ve felt that I was on the front line of the feminist revolution.
However, this is simply a long way of saying that Dr C and I have always been hands on parents. We attended all the school functions, sat at the dining room table to do homework in the evenings, and tried to go on regular family outings.
And yet two years ago we realized it wasn’t enough. Our oldest is almost too old to be called a child. At eleven, she increasingly seems like a young woman – a strong willed, temperamental, inexplicably annoying young woman, but a creature fast moving towards adulthood nonetheless. And we were missing it.
Let’s face it. Many cruisers fall into one of several obviously mentally instable categories: those suffering a mid-life crisis, those who have never grown up, and those with more money than sense. My husband and I clearly fall into the first category. I would like to believe – and maybe this is a rum-inspired delusion that allows me to sleep at night – that what we really recognized was our need to spend more time with the girls.
Our children are growing up so fast. We just don’t want to miss it.