Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who's Driving This Bus?

When I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I took a one-day “Childbirth Preparation” class. The instructor was an experienced labor and delivery nurse with children of her own, and her teaching combined her medical knowledge with good, old-fashioned common sense. One of the wisest things she told us was, “Go ahead and write up a ‘birth plan’. Put down on paper exactly how you’d like your birth experience to go. And then rip it up and throw it away, because you’re not the one who decides what happens. Your doctor isn’t even the one who decides what happens. Your baby is now calling the shots. Get used to it.”

And she was right. When you have a baby, the baby determines your schedule to a great extent: when you sleep, often when you eat, even when you talk. The baby’s sleeping? Keep your voice down. The baby’s hungry? Wake up and feed her. The baby’s fussing? Put down your fork and let your dinner get cold while you figure out what’s bothering her. Once the baby gets a bit older, you can ease her into some kind of an eating and sleeping schedule, but you still have no control over fussy times. And if your child needs a nap NOW, it’s going to happen whether it’s convenient for you or not. Once you’re a parent you are, quite simply, no longer driving the bus.

And that is why I am writing this blog at 6:30 in the morning, with one child eating his breakfast in the next room, having just put the other down to sleep upstairs a few minutes ago. I am sitting at my computer with the baby monitor on my left and a cup of coffee on my right, wondering if I can sneak in a shower before my son finishes his breakfast and yells to be freed from his high chair, and before my daughter decides this is a one-hour sleep break and not a four-hour sleep break and yells for my attention.

But I don’t mind that they’re driving the bus for now. With the two of them driving, who knows what fascinating avenues this bus might explore. So I’m just going to strap on my seat belt and enjoy the ride!

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