Monday, January 16, 2012

Maternity Leave

I'm sorry to take an unannounced leave of absence and then come back with a ranting loony mommy post. I meant to take a small holiday blogging vacation, and it blossomed into a full-on social media exodus - it was a remarkably freeing experience, but if you have made any major life announcements via twitter, facebook, or a blog recently, please go ahead and assume that I missed it. I've been off the grid, as well as a crazy pregnant* kind of under-the-weather, with house guests, holidays, and preschool registration**, not to mention some still-pending home repairs, to boot. So, I'm finally back, and I'm sure that if you had a hectic holiday schedule yourself, that you understand. But, thanks for your loyalty in sticking around and your patience in waiting me out.

But, I don't want to get ahead of myself. While I have posts in the queue, including an anniversary dinner at Palena, I also am in the third trimester with baby deuce (hereinafter, simply "Deuce"). So, while I anticipate blogging for as long as I can, it would be naive of me to pretend that there won't be a day where I just admit my weaknesses and that I need some time off. Now, I promise to let you know when Deuce arrives, complete with photos, but fair warning that I may disappear in the not-too-distant future. I will be back, but consider this my advanced announcement of maternity leave.

* These five (alright - I admit it - four) things I know to be true about second pregnancies - You do indeed get bigger faster; my belly walks in front of me and I still have almost three months left (though I would be willing to bet that we don't see anywhere near 40 weeks with Deuce). Pregnant at 32 is not pregnant at 29/30; my veins, my joints, my bladder (sorry, TMI), and most definitely my immune system are wondering what on earth is going on. You cannot fight the inevitable; up until 25 weeks, I was doing so well, running regularly and staying fit, but it's all over now. Pregnant with a toddler is as much a shock to your reality as bringing a new baby home; there is no special treatment this time (and I seriously mean none), only another child who already needs to be fed.

** Our little H will be a full-on preschooler in just over 2 weeks! Okay, maybe not full-on; he will be starting part-time and then go full-time next Fall. It's hard to believe that he is so grown up already, but I am excited for potty-training, classmates, H speaking Spanish (I'll believe in the immersion after I see how it works on a 2-year-old), and art projects to put up in mommy's office soon. So, look forward to lots of posts of H's Little Bastards days (so as to not divulge the name of H's preschool, we will go with the interpretation of C's boss, who thought C told him that H will be starting the "Little Bastards Academy" soon).

That's Just Arlington

“You know, that’s just Arlington.” It’s something I hear all of the time from other parents or service providers with respect to there not being adequate facilities or services for young children in Arlington, specifically the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor and North Arlington. I know that part of this relates to supply-and-demand relationships and overcrowding. There are simply not enough parks, homes, classes, grocery stores, schools, doctors, etc. for our burgeoning population (trailer classrooms, anyone?!). Yet, I think there is another commonality…another factor, a parental trait lurking beneath the surface that causes our woes. 

Arlington is, by all accounts, the most educated county and one of the wealthiest in the nation…but a community full of achievers breeds a certain type of need-to-achieve parent, what I will describe as the uber parent - a Type A who is convinced that he or she has the power to control each element of his or her child’s destiny. And women, I’m calling us out here. I think there are a few dads of this persuasion, but it is mostly us.

It’s not getting a seat at reading time at the library; your child not learning to swim unless you register within 20 seconds of the opening bell (and don’t get me started on the message boards lighting up because Arlington County made a mistake in publishing the registration date – as well as parents incensed that the registration takes place at 8 AM, while “they have to take their kids to school” – giving a public forum to the need to beat out other parents in line). Not finding a preschool spot for your child – any full-time preschool - past the fetus stage. Or trying to get a parking spot at Harris Teeter at rush hour on a weeknight.  Everything becomes a competition. Everything becomes one Type A parent trying to best the others. Except there are hoards of these Type As, each trying to best all of the others.

So, this is me, one semi-reformed Type A, admitting I’m out. I cannot play this game as well as the most severe who suffer from my affliction. Trust me, I have tried. I really thought I was at the far end of the anal-retentive, attention-to-detail spectrum, and I embraced who I was. But, enough is enough. I now realize that, at best, I’m a Type A Minus, and guess what?! My kid will still go to college. Or culinary school, or art school, or whatever he wants to do. Because he’s not a race to be won, a project to complete, a goal to be attained; he’s a child. His accomplishments will be his, not mine.

Living in Arlington, and given my proclivities towards competitiveness, I will probably have to remind myself of this from time to time. I will have to fight my own demons, and teach myself that God has a plan for us, and that plan is not for H’s mom to beat out everyone to get what H needs.  I will have to resist these urges and the pressures surrounding me. Which brings me to my question (and hints at a future post baby deuce blog post) – is it this way everywhere? Is this specific to DC and environs? Does anyone else feel this way? Do I gravitate towards Type A communities? Please, help out a mommy who just doesn’t want to fight anymore.