Wednesday, June 11, 2008


In the modern world, our lives are full of choices. From the simple: which bottle of wine do I choose? Paper or plastic? To the complex: which neighborhood do we live in? Which job do we take? Sam and I, we both agree, are horrible decision makers. Before we had kids, we would grocery shop together and I would find Sam, in the middle of an aisle, scratching his head over which hair care product he should buy. Did he want his hair to be vibrant? Have lift? It would take him forever. In America, we have to make a lot of choices. Because there IS choice. When Sam and I tried to pick a place to get married, we visited 18 locations. 18! Because there is always the sense that maybe you haven't found the perfect place. Or the best priced place. Or the place that would make others feel comfortable. We most likely would not have gone to at least 2/3rd of those places but we had to see. Just in case.

Seren too is overwhelmed by choice. Every time she goes down for nap or to sleep at night, we let her choose two or three books that we read together. We have done this for many months. Usually, she picks from her favorites. But in the last week, when asked to pick a book, it has become a long, drawn out, painful affair. Everything looks good! I mean when you've got Dr. Suess and Curious George and stories about animals, how are you to choose? The most frustrating part for me, is that her books are high up on a shelf (these are the "good books" that we don't let her access too frequently). So in order to look at her choices, you have to hoist her up. Mommy ain't that strong to begin with. Pregnant Mommy? She don't play that. So, every night for the past few days has had me hoisting my indecisive child up on my hip encouraging her to "Choose, honey." Then later, "Just choose one, honey." Then later, "Seren, choose a book or Mommy is choosing it." I was clearly getting frustrated.

The reality is that Seren is two years old. The whole world is exciting! How can she possibly choose? I learned the lesson a long time ago when babysitting. A adult can't ask, "What do you want for dinner?" unless you have every possible meal option under the sun in your fridge. You simply ask, "Chicken or fish, kiddo?" Because you like either answer. The kid gets his/her say and everyone is happy. And so it was with the books.

I came up with the "game" of library. Everynight, as she puts on her pjs (another lesson in patience), I pick four stories for the library. I place them at her level on a bookshelf. She then runs and gets her "library stool" and chooses two books. "Seren choose! Take two out of library!" I wish I could say that I've cut the choosing time in half but Seren really enjoys making an "informed" decision. But it works! Her stress is gone and so is mine. Win! Win!

And so with the background of being overwhelmed by choice, Sam and I are having to make some challenging choices recently. The best news is that after nearly 8 months of job searching and about 4 years of soul searching, Sam landed a job. Yahoo! Sam hasn't worked full time for over 7 years due to grad school and then being a Stay At Home Dad. This time in our lives has been incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. We are both financially relieved (esp with number two on the way) and both very anxious. Our carefully balanced routine and roles will be flipped on its head with the start of this new job and the addition of a newborn. (More on this later) But what it also means is that we need to choose a childcare provider for Seren. And we need to get a new car. All in less than three weeks.

In my opinion, there is nothing more stressful then deciding who should help raise/care for your child. It isn't as much about logistics and cost as it is about that gut response. We visited one place last night- and my heart, within two minutes, said "NO". Fortunately, last Friday, we found a woman which made my heart say "Yes". And Sam agreed. But there is that sense that maybe we haven't found the right person. Last night I dreamt Seren, under this new person's eye, got hit by a car in the street. So yeah, we are real relaxed around here.

I guess my main point is that choice is hard. And we all just have to do our best to make the most informed decision we can. But as I was telling good friend on the phone this morning, "We really like this child care person. I think we are going to go with her. But maybe we should visit three more..." She reminded me, "Meg, let's not make this into the search for the wedding location."

She is right. Sometimes I complicate my already complicated life by trying to find something just a bit better. Or holding on for a more perfect job. It isn't that the child care decision isn't worth holding out for- it is. But when we both like it, Seren loved her and it works with our schedule, we should go with it. We are going to go with our gut on this one and hope for the best. Just like Seren can only hope each night she picks the perfect story. Afterall, some choices are more important than others.


LauraC said...

I love love love this post. You are so right, there is so much choice. I always strive for perfect and the reality is there is no perfection. We went with our gut with our child care provider and two years later, I don't know what I would do without the people there. It feels like home. But up until the first day we took the boys, we worried over whether we made the right decision.

Yay for Sam's new job!

(Btw, paper or plastic is not a choice. ha ha. My choice is always my reusable cloth bags!)

PS. Nate and Alex do the same thing with books. We keep 6 books in our bedroom and they each get to choose one. Every night Alex grabs Go Do Go right away. Every night Nate has to peruse all of the books and chooses something different every night.

Beth said...

Congrats to Sam! And yes--the whole daycare decision is HUGE! Our first daycare center didn't work out so well for William. The place came highly recommended and I loved the director and felt good when we visited, but after the first week, I didn't feel like William was getting the best care, so we switched the first opportunity we got. And even though there have been many issues with our current place, I have always loved the teachers and felt that William was being well cared for. So bottom line is, go with your gut!

As for books, William rarely wants to read a new book, but every once in a while, we get a new one into the rotation. What are Seren's choices?

Julie said...

Great post! My BFF is the worst decision maker on the planet--even going to a salad bar is a process for her--croutons? no croutons? Which dressing? What goes best with artichoke hearts and beets? OMG--we make such fun of her! I digress...

YAY for your husband's new job!

As for your dream--I had to smile b/c although Lana is not in daycare, I have repetitive dreams that I (or my inlaws) have left her home alone during her nap and we are rushing to get home before she wakes up and I am imagining her waking up and nobody is there and she is crying...ugh! My point: even if you leave your kid with yourself, there is always that underlying stress. Good luck with your unending choices and decisions. You will make the right ones when you feel its right.

One more thing: I have found giving Lana a choice between 2 things (for just about everything--food, clothing, books, etc)has given her a sense of control and her tantrums have totally ended (I hope I didn't just jinx myself).

Laura S said...

Meg, you are right to go with your gut. It is hard, I KNOW, but gut tells you so much.