They say that youth is wasted on the young. The further my foot slips across the line into something other than youth, the more I understand the sentiment.
For example, I paid attention in college and found my courses interesting, but – to be both accurate and relatively discreet – distractions abounded. The me rounding 20 was as diligent and engaged as any college student, but the me rounding 30 would surely enjoy, appreciate, and retain an order of magnitude more. My jealousy only intensifies when it comes to high school students. World History? How cool to spend an hour a day gaining a basic understanding of all of recorded history (even better: if recorded history had actually recorded history comprehensively and accurately, but I digress). Spanish? Si, por favor! At the time I simply tolerated the required classes out of equal parts joy of task completion, obedience, and faith that “getting into a good college” really was the holy grail. Don’t even get me started on all the details I missed on elementary school field trips. Ian and I spend our vacations enjoying historical reenactments, natural wonders, and produce-centered outings (e.g., apple picking and berry farms).
And then there’s physical fitness. We’re blessed with incredibly vacation-ready bodies in our teens and twenties, yet most people I know spend their days sitting at desks. Why not have joint pain during our working years and then be able to run trails, water ski, and bike for hours on end during retirement?
Viv’s day to day gives the whole concept a new twist of injustice. Our last few weeks unfolded like an episode of “The Biggest Loser” on opposite day. V came into this world as a little peanut, and like all babies lost weight her first few days, rendering her an even tinier peanut. Her pediatrician first had us feeding her on demand, meaning I nursed whenever she expressed (nursing pun intended – NPI) the slightest interest. When that strategy didn’t produce enough weight gain to put us in the right box on the growth chart, we were told to make her wait two and a half hours between feedings so that she would eat more each time. That was a a challenge since she’s her Daddy’s daughter and as a result wants to begin eating, be eating, or have just finished eating whenever she’s not sleeping, consequences be damned. But we did it. She kept putting on weight but still not enough to satisfy her personal trainer. Armed with the threat of a “failure to thrive” label, her pediatrician commanded that we nurse, pump out what she leaves behind, make her wait, nurse, feed her a bottle with the milk pumped after the previous feeding (otherwise known as “liquid gold”), and pump again. After four days of this regimen, she finally hit her weekly goal weight. But you can probably see where this is going. The glorified reverse Jenny Craig coach (apologies to the pediatricians among you) still would not cut our little runt-runt any slack and asked us to feed her even more pumped milk. Before we decided to revolt and revert to the more modest meal plan, Viv was pumped (NPI) so full of milk at each feeding that she suffered from excruciating belly pain trying to process it all. She was lucky if she managed to produce “action jackson” as I’ve dubbed it (I also amended the lyrics to John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” to “Waiting on the Poopies to Change”) in time to relax before we started the whole dance again.
I was upset to see my child in pain. The extra pumping had me losing even more rest and literally falling asleep on my feet. Rife with postpartum hormones and generally prone to melodrama, the take home message became: “Your inadequacies are starving your daughter.” But aside from all that I also got a little peeved. Yes, the constantly changing and seemingly conflicting medical advice drove me crazy, but something else annoyed too. How many of us drag our weary butts to the gym to avoid significant weight gain? How many times has each of us had to decline that ever-enticing second helping of dessert? And what about the fact that it only gets worse as one gets older and is better able to afford really delicious food, can take in alcohol calories, and ultimately has time to lounge around in a bathing suit if retirement is in the cards? (Can you tell that someone has an idyllic picture of retirement in her head? What social security crisis?) What kind of sick joke has our baby still suffering (although to a more manageable extent now) from her version of mandatory fudge brownies, ice cream, and cheese fries? How about we feed the baby only as much as is comfortable for her tiny little tummy, and our doctors pressure the rest of us to put on weight at breakneck speed? I for one would love to say, “Bring on the breakfast fondue.”
And then there’s also the sleep. She sleeps 15 hours a day and yet she has no commitments to speak of (although she does have a work-appropriate cardigan thanks to Debbie, Rose, and Julia). Her standing 8 a.m. can be canceled at will and involves a turtle named Myrtle. Aside from the whole growing thing (rationality is not welcome here), she’s got no use for all those hours of sleep. Of course, it should be no surprise that I currently see sleep as wasted on the young; right now I think sleep is wasted on just about everyone but new moms.