On Parenting

My parents brought down this yellow and orange Little Tikes plastic picnic table that anyone in their 30s will remember having as a child. I've been yearning for a little table for Laurel ever since she started getting obsessed with "writing". I'm also tired of wrestling her into the high chair twice a day. She has this way of stiffening her body so that I can't get her legs in. Also, she has mastered the ability to somehow stand up in the high chair, even with the straps securely fastened. A baby in the 75th percentile for height and the 25th for weight makes for a highly capable escape artist. I imagined that we could begin to have civil meals, without the yelling, screaming and near falling, while Laurel would sit nicely at her pint-size place setting.

However, I must say, eating dinner at the little table is not without its downsides. Right now I'm looking at an utter catastrophe of smashed cheerios and dried up kale leaves littering the living room. I definitely should have moved the table into the kitchen before the meal started. Laurel liked eating at her little table, but she lacks the attention span to actually stay sitting there through the three bowls of potato soup she demanded. (Not being in the high chair meant that she could march her bowl into the kitchen and hold it up, yelling until I poured her more soup.)

The ear infection is fading, and we're sort of getting back into the routine. She's still waking up a couple of times a night, but I'm confident that she'll be back to sleeping through within a week. And as always, she's quite agreeable at bedtime...she flips the switch on the light, throws her baby in her crib, and curls up in a little ball. No fuss, and utterly pleasant for me. So, here I sit, staring down a mess in the kitchen and a stack of math journals to read.

Naturally, I'm going to pour myself a glass of East End beer screw around the on the internet. East End comes in growlers and won't stay fresh for very long...I really have no choice.

I used to be a pretty die-hard advocate for stay-at-home-parenting. But in a theoretical way. I had stay at home parents and it worked fine for me. I didn't really know anybody who used daycare when I was growing up, and I guess I always imagined it being much more dreary and jail-like than it actually is. My image was more in line with a Romanian orphanage than the average licensed child care center. And besides, why would you not want to raise your own kids, I heard myself say on more than one occasion. When I picked her up at daycare today I had a sudden realization that daycare is not the problem. Laurel likes her daycare. She likes the teachers, she likes the kids, she likes the toys. The routine works for her.

Still, it's not without its drawbacks. Juggling who has to stay home and calling in favors from your relatives when your kid is sick for an entire week. Having to go to work on very little sleep some days. Finding a spare moment for yourself when laundry or food prep or cleaning the toilet is constantly, urgently needed.

It was with these thoughts that I stumbled upon a couple of book reviews and blogs. Getting to 50/50 and Equally Shared Parenting are two books that grew out of blogs that grew out of several entrepenuerial women making their husbands do more housework. I grew momentarily excited over the Childraising Equality Scale, where you can sit down with your partner and see who does more "toy assembling" and who does more "toilet training" and make sure everybody's doing their fair share. I could not imagine spending my precious increments of adult time with M by discussing those issues. I do the bulk of the weekday childcare because I have a job that lets me out at 2:40. I'm home when Laurel is awake. No use in having an argument about that.

But then, I stumbled across a blog post called "Is your life interesting or happy?".

The test items themselves were edited in a tongue-in-cheek way by the blogger and they don't really bear any real relevance to my life. Still, it could be telling.

For instance, I was not particularly happy as a child. I was raised Catholic. I spent many formative staring down a life-size crucified Jesus from the front pew of our church. So, there's a minus one for me in the happy column.

And no, I did not even know that $200 jeans existed. I guess I assume that everyone buys jeans at Old Navy for 39 bucks and the frugal among us wait until they go on sale. Don't even get me started on the eyebrows.

However, at the end of the day, this is the question that lingers in my mind.

There is no doubt that my life is interesting (I plan to audition for the Moth the next time they have an open mic locally with my "Pants-less hooker steals a pair of socks" tale...really, it's hard to top that story). But can one's life be both interesting and happy?

You tell me, along with any insights about how two working parents juggle the responsibilities of a work and home.


Amy B. said...

So I really love the ideas behind the book Equally Shared Parenting and printed out the "Quizzes" for both Scott and I. I was convinced that it was the answer...and it may still very well be, but it ended in quite a fight and I am not even sure if we got to discuss the rest of our questions. :( That was, of course, before I went back to work and life got too busy to discuss equality...now it is all about survival.

k said...

Penelope's Trunk is full of commentary on parenting but her solution is to hire a house manager for 50 grand a year to manage all the crap that she'd rather not think about like buying valentines for the preschool class party or what you need to Trader Joe's.

That's pretty much when I lost interest and resigned myself to a messy house because as a teacher I'm never going to make enough money to hire a house manager.

Anonymous said...

As I see it in my wise old age ;)
You do the best that you can, sometimes it might fall short of what you want but accept that it was the best you could do at the time. There will be mistakes made and there will be times you would desperately like to "do over", but you can't. Enjoy life the best that you can and don't ever allow regrets to move in. I think a great life is one you look back on with joy and say I've had a great ride in spite of a few bumps along the way. You're doing a great job Katy as a Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister and especially as a Niece!
Lots of love, Aunt DC