The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, March 20, 2006

Higher math

When my kids were babies, I spent my days constantly calculating and recalculating. I nursed on demand, but both of my children were pretty by-the-clock eaters anyway, so my days were broken into small chunks of time between feedings -- first two hours then two and a half, then three as they grew. From the first feeding of the morning, I'd start running the numbers in my head ("let's see... it's 7 am now, so I'll probably need to nurse at 10 before heading out and I'll need to either be home or someplace that's nursing-friendly by about 1..."), adjusting throughout the day as necessary. I thought about everything -- when I could squeeze in an errand or how I needed to adjust to make it to playgroup or even just whether I might be able to get a shower -- based on those maddening little blocks of time.

I suppose to some, the constant running of numbers might be comforting. But I am not a math person, and despite my predilection for schedules and routine, this kind of fluid routine which required me to count and re-count was the bane of my existence. Despite two full years of nursing babies, I still had to manually count out the hours on my fingers nearly every time I calculated, and I was wrong as often as I was right. As bittersweet as weaning was, leaving my counting days goodbye was a huge relief. I still live by the clock even though I long ago hung up my nursing bras, of course; this one gets dropped of at this time and that one gets picked up at that time. But at least those times are reasonably consistent from week to week. Our current schedule requires a good memory and a good calendar, but no head for figures is necessary, and for that I'm grateful.

Every time that Evan has an asthma attack, however -- as he did again this weekend (you jinxed me, Liesl!) -- I am thrust back into my old world of time blocks with a regulated series of nebulizer treatments. To make matters worse, though, now I'm trying to fit these regularly scheduled treatments around our full schedule of regular time commitments. Figuring out how to get a shower was child's play compared to these calculations. Now, as I'm waiting for that 4 a.m. sputter, I'm thinking "OK, if I do the next neb at 8, we can get Julia to school by 9, but that would make him due at 1 and that's not going to work because that's when Julia has to be picked up at school, so maybe if we move the whole thing back half an hour..." The mind boggles, or at least mine does.

I was trying to be funny last week when I said that my family was complete because I don't have to cut pizza any more, and I was a little taken aback by all of the comments taking me so seriously. "Wait," I thought as I read them, "you all realize that I can still change my mind here, right?" And then Evan got sick again. As I found myself thrust back into my old counting patterns, I was suddenly reminded of what it was really like to parent a baby. Thinking about how busy our lives already are and envisioning what another year of higher math would really be like... well, it sure did squelch any ambivalence I felt after re-reading my flippant post.

I still feel the need to mention that I reserve the right to take back every last word that I've written here some day if desire or circumstance so demand. Life is too uncertain (and I am too prone to second guessing myself) for absolutes. But will I ever actually exercise that right? Don't count on it.


At 4:49 PM, Blogger Liesl said...

Oh, boy, and I was trying *so hard* to keep the bad-breathing vibes on my side of the monitor :)

I'm sorry Evan's sick again. After our croupy weekend, I'm exhausted, and a couple of nights of this are nothing compared to what you're dealing with. I hope you don't have to keep up the treatments for long.

Scheduling kids is tricky enough, especially when you've got do something like nebulizer treaments that can't be dropped or delayed if the day gets hairy and frantic.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Steph said...

We're having asthma problems over here, too. M will be going back to the ped tomorrow. Every time the kid gets an inkling of a cold, it turns into this lovely cough. At least I have some experience, since the same darn thing happens to me whenever I get sick!

I hope that Evan feels better soon and you can get back to your busy schedules without the intrusion of the nebulizer!

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

The *good* thing about that third child is that it just pushes you (me!) completely over the edge in terms of any type of schedule or even "keeping track" of minor details like, oh, feedings. I absolutely played your "counting game" with #s 1 and 2. With #3? It was more like, "Hey, my boobs hurt - when did I last feed the baby?"

So keep your right to change your mind close at hand - at least in terms of the type of "running the numbers" you speak of here, it's easier with #3. And in the interest of you possibly going for #3 some day, I won't list the things that are harder...


At 9:38 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

hehe! You can always reserve the right to change your mind!! I have done it a half a dozen times!! Sorry you have a sick kid, hope he feels better soon!

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Gina said...

How many times have I changed my mind? I've been pregnant four times, have three children. Every time I'm pregnant I say "never again." Then they hand me that baby in the recovery room and all bets are off. Poor Brad. You can always change your mind. I'm queen of that. But if you don't - you know what's best for you and your family. I have to LOL about Jennifer's comment that three kids just pushed her over the edge as far as schedules go. Three kids has just pushed me over the edge, period.

Hugs on Evan being sick again.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

I had to smile at this post. I run numbers in my head all the time -- especially on the weekends, juggling housework, workouts, picking up daughter at college (or dropping her off), seeing friends, visiting my uncle. One little overrun on my tightly packed schedule and I have to rebalance. I feel for you -- but I'm so glad I'm not the only one that does this!


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