Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taking Care of Babies

A lot of people assume that being pregnant while already taking care of a preschooler must be stressful.

And it is. But it's not nearly as stressful as being pregnant while working a pink collar administrative job for a bunch of grown-up babies.

Here are some differences I've noticed, between my first pregnancy with the Juban Princeling, and this one.

When the Princeling, who is now three, asks the same question 15 times in a row, I get only mildly annoyed. The way you do when the car door doesn't shut all the way on the first try, so you have to open it and slam it again. I know that repetition and consistency are part of a little guy's emotional and cognitive development, and that gives me more patience than I realized I had in me.

When the eight adults I supported at my job asked me the same question 15 times in a row, I wanted to stab them in the eyeballs with a plastic spork from the office kitchen. Apparently, the higher up in the company you are, the harder it is to understand the very complicated and multi-step process of printing an email. (Husband: "Why does anyone need to print an email?" Me: "I DON'T FUCKING KNOW.") I know that some people get Ph.Ds in email printing, and that the great minds of the 21st century have written dozens of books on the topic, and, like 19th century German philosophy it seems like one of those arcane things that no one really understands, but after I show you how to do it five or six times, a healthy, functioning adult should really be able to click on the little printer icon by him or herself.

If I'm writing, or reading, while home alone with the Princeling - yes, sometimes I do things other than devote 100% of my attention to him 100% of the time he is awake, OMG CALL THE PARENTING POLICE!!1!!! - and he comes up to me and asks, nicely, if I want to play with him, about 9 times out of 10 I will close my book or my computer and play with him. Because he's three, and there will be a baby in the house soon, a baby I can't close and put away, and because my son is so goddamn cute and sweet I just want to fucking eat him up, and when he holds his toy cars out to me and says, "Mommy, do you want to play with me?" it would take a cold, hard person indeed to say no. And also, all through my pregnancy he has taken good care of me, finding ways to work around my limitations so we can still play together, and that just breaks my heart, and I want to scoop him up and snuggle him and tell the rest of the world to fuck off.

When the eight adults I supported at my job interrupted me, it was generally, a)while I was working on an actual work project for work; and b)so I could drop everything and do personal work for them, like book their family ski vacation or send flowers to their wives or track down the $100 ear phones they left on a plane. (Me: "If these ear phones are so important to you, why'd you leave them on a plane?" Boss: "That's not the point. Just find them.") So then I've got one boss asking me if I've booked a babysitter yet for his teenage children for their trip to Aspen, and another boss asking me where he should take a client to lunch, and another asking me which is the best hotel for a girls' weekend in Vegas, and another telling me if her sister calls to say she's on her way, and another demanding to know why this work-related project isn't finished yet. And then there's me, ending up on bed rest a few weeks before my due date.

The Princeling naps for 2 1/2 hours every afternoon, allowing me some quiet downtime in which to write, or take a nap, or watch reruns of AbFab while eating Double-Stuf Oreos and texting my gay husband Patsy.

At my old job I had to eat lunch at my desk because I was responsible for answering 12 phone lines: my eight bosses, plus the main line, plus backup for the three partners. And without fail, every day, at least one person in the office would walk by and snark on what was eating, because, you know, it's totally other people's business if I'm eating penne pasta and a Coke while pregnant. (Actual comment: "I'm a little scared of that drink on your desk.")

So...yeah. Is it an ideal situation taking care of an active, imaginative, and attention-demanding 3-year old when I'd rather be spending my days in a warm bath so I don't feel the strain of my enormous belly? No. But it beats the crap out of ego-stroking, up-managing, and priority-juggling eight grown-up babies, who, in real life are actually nice people, but at work become non-functional.

Besides. The Princeling is hella cuter than all of them combined.


Vicki Batman said...

A very funny posting. And no I won't call Parenting Police. I stuck mine in their room, said play, and sat down and read while they did so. But when they really needed me, I was there. Thousands of card games, puzzles, trips to park, reading, you name it.

Congratulations on your second! Your life adventure is about to become more exciting.

(I so totally dig the pasta and Coke, too)

Meredith L. said...

Thank you, Vicki!

That's really what's important, isn't it? Being there when they need us, but also giving them room to learn how to entertain themselves and just BE.

Anonymous said...

The nice part of having five children in six years is that they keep each other entertained. I got to read a little bit in a grown-up book, every day.

And I'll confess: I wouldn't have said anything about the coke, but I would have thought it. I am snarky about some things.

Meredith L. said...

Oh, I think things all the time too, Marlene. But you and I have something others don't: good manners to keep it to ourselves. Mostly. :-)

Elizabeth - FlourishinProgress said...

The Princeling sounds like an absolute gem of a child. Those other babies....not so much.

I think you should keep a plastic spork at the ready in your desk...just in case.

Meredith L. said...

Ha ha, right! If I was still working I totally would. "You know how to click on the printer icon. DON'T MAKE ME COME IN THERE WITH MY SPORK!"