Here is what I know about my coming baby:
- He is going to be a boy (at birth, anyway).
- He will have lots and lots of hand me down everythings.
- He will have just about the best older sister a kid could ever hope for.
- He will have two parents and three fish and a great big extended family who all will love him unconditionally.
Here is what I don’t know about my coming baby:
- I don’t know what he is going to wear, because I have no room in my house or in my schedule to unpack all those hand me down everythings from big sis, best bud, and favorite cousin.
- I don’t know how long he will have me as his one and only, because I don’t know yet how long much maternity leave I’ll be able to muster (welcome to America, for those of you reading abroad).
- I don’t know who he will have as a caregiver when I go back to work, because nannies are too expensive and all the good daycare spots have waitlists longer than route 66.
- I don’t know where he is going to sleep, eat, or play, because I don’t know where we are going to be living.
- I don’t know whether he will have a mother who is sane, because the stress of juggling job and child and soon to be second child might all be enough to put her over the edge.
- And I don’t know (haven’t even the slightest hint of an idea) what his name will be.
These are what I like to call quality problems (except for the name piece; that’s just a problematic problem). Quality problems aren’t problems with the quality of my life, but problems that can only emerge from a life of already high quality.
Take that daycare problem. The childcare situation for working moms in American is abysmal to say the least. But, at least I have the luxury of being employed full-time, and earning a salary that will allow me to choose the very best daycare that will give us a space. I have the freedom to worry about whether the curriculum is Montessori focused enough instead of worrying about whether or not my child’s basic needs will be met. We might need to scrimp and save, I may need to lower the hammer on my shopping habit, but ultimately I know that we’ll find a way to pay what’s necessary to ensure our infant is getting topnotch care. Quality Problem.
Or maybe let’s consider the where to sleep, eat, and play problem. This is a problem because I like living in nice old houses with lots of character and just enough space to spread out. It’s a problem because I like living in walkable neighborhoods, with nice parks nearby and beautiful old trees lining the sidewalks. It’s a problem because we want to buy a house, but the houses we can afford to buy are not actually as nice as the house we are currently renting (because we’re getting kind of a great deal). So the real problem is, I want to buy a house, but I may be forced to buy a house that’s just as nice but a little smaller, or a house that’s big enough but not as nice.
See what I mean? When I break it down, it doesn’t really seem like something I should be whining about. I’m more than lucky to be faced with this kind of decision, when not too long ago the decision would have been whether or not to make the kids share a room. And yet spiraling I go. As we waffle on what to do next, I find one worry to follow the next to follow the next – if I don’t know where we’ll be living, how will I know what kind of furniture to buy? what new toy storage unit I’ll need? where I’ll be doing my writing? whether I need to downsize my clothing collection to make room for maternity and post-natal gear, or just box it up temporarily? Problems Problems Problems. All such Quality Problems.
Which brings me to that problem of sanity. Maybe, just maybe, if I could take a step back. Maybe if I could take a step back and just be grateful for what I have, then maybe I wouldn’t feel quite so insane. Maybe if I could be thankful to have boxes of unsorted baby clothes stuffed into my closets (and grateful to have all those closets). Maybe if I could show gratitude for my mother and my husband who will shoulder so much of the childcare when I go back to work, maybe if I could show relief at the range of high quality daycare facilities available to me in my community and in my price range. Maybe if I could get down on my knees or throw my hands up to the sky and revel in how lucky I am to have the support and success I need to even consider buying home raise my family in.
And then maybe, in that moment of quiet, I might find inspiration for that name that continues to elude me.