Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the parent trap

We had a great weekend with White Grandparents (as I have dubbed them). They went nuts over the baby, and as promised, came bearing a department store aisle's worth of wardrobe items. As White Grandparents do not seem to be big believers in gender-neutral clothing, Cal is now the proud owner of a metric ton of little onesies that read "Future Quarterback" and "Little Slugger" (all in a vivid red-white-and-blue color scheme that I would classify as yay America!). When we all went out for a walk Saturday afternoon, White Parents were scandalized--absolutely speechless--that Cal didn't own a little baseball cap. And what, no jock strap?

Joe and I were remarking at the end of the weekend, though, at how parents seem to have the uncanny ability to hone in on the sore spots. That is to say, they seem to sense exactly what topics cause us the greatest amounts of angst, and then will ask questions or comments around that topic until you have a nervous breakdown. For Joe, this sore spot is Career Development. What will he do after residency? Is he going to strike out in private practice? Is he going to do a fellowship? Where is he going to apply, and in what field? Is he happy with the life of an ophthalmologist? Has he made The Right Choices? These are the questions that keep him up nights. He is stressed about Career Development. Very very stressed.

It doesn't help, of course, that Joe's parents are non-medical types, and as such, have basically no clue about the whole med student/residency/attending continuum. Joe's dad, I think, still thinks that we attend classes all day. Though this is not their fault, I think this adds to the whole aggravation factor, having to explain to them exactly what it is that he does at work and why it is that he's so busy all the time. SO, HOW ARE YOU LIKING OPHTHALMOLOGY? is the big question that his parents keep asking him, followed closely by, SO, NOW YOU'RE DOING OPHTHALMOLOGY...NOW WHAT? If allowed to blossom, the line of inquiry will turn to, WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE and SO, YOU SEE PATIENTS AT WORK? DO THEY CALL YOU "DOCTOR"? EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE JUST A RESIDENT? WHERE'S THE REAL DOCTOR WHILE YOU'RE SEEING ALL THESE PEOPLE? (That gnashing sound is Joe's teeth.)

My Achilles heel, sure to place me in fits of doubt instantly, and Cal and the topic of whether or not he's going to be totally warped by my being away from him for so many hours during the day. Most of the time, I think it's fine, he's FINE, tons of kids have working parents, and very few of them write tell-all books about how their parents' continual absence during the day turned them into clown-costume-wearing serial killers. But then there are times, long nights on call, late days at the hospital, when I think, oh my god, my child is learning to sit up RIGHT NOW and I'm not there to see it. And then maybe there are tears. (Luckily, there is a lot of gauze on top of my med cart. Also great for blowing your nose.)

This weekend, I was talking with my dad about what a great baby Cal is, how he's almost always happy and smiling and so good, blah blah blah, insert your own first-time parent rhapsodic rant here. And then I said, "I mean, I was worried about being away from him during the day, but I figure, he must be doing OK, right? I mean, he wouldn't be so happy if we were doing the wrong thing, right? Right?" Looking, of course, for affirmation. To which my dad said, "WELL, IT MAKES YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, AND PLANNING FOR YOUR SECOND CHILD. I MEAN, YOU DON'T WANT HIM TO GET MORE ATTACHED TO HIS BABYSITTER THAN TO YOU." Aaaaagh! Aaaaagh! Our child isn't going to love us anymore! He loves Georgia more than me! Reminds me of the stories I used to hear about my cousin, who, when she was two, used to call Mister Rogers on TV "Daddy."

My mom, in trying to welcome me to the Working Mom's Club and (presumably) make me feel better about returning to work, only served to make things worse. "CAL GETS EXCELLENT CARE DURING THE DAY, AND IS RECEIVING SURROGATE MOTHERLY CARE FROM GEORGIA." Aaaagh, our nanny is serving as his surrogate mother! Real mother is out of the picture! Our child is going to grow up with a Caribbean accent and address Joe and I by our first names! I'm going to hell! Bad mother hell!

However, karma's a bitch, and I'm sure we'll be aggravating Cal ourselves before long. DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR HOVERBOARD IN FRONT OF THE DOOR? AND HOW ARE THOSE APPLICATIONS FOR INTERGALACTIC UNIVERSITY COMING ALONG? What do you mean, we won't have hoverboards in sixteen years? Didn't you see "Back to the Future II"?

Currently reading: Nothing at the moment.

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