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Feb 4 2011

Tired of Contracting, Time to Dilate (sorry, gross birth metaphor)

By at 10:39 am

Does our world have to get this small when we have children?

I should start by saying that I live in Park Slope, a neighborhood notorious for its high rate of procreation and intense obsession with its young.

The conversation at playdates these days is about preschool, about who got in where, and who got in early admissions (yes! Just like Harvard! And it costs an extra $200 just to apply). I toured a preschool–or was it daycare? Is there a difference?–that costs $28,000 a year. And you have to bring your own lunch.

Parents here (and in neighborhoods like this around the country) obsess over not just what their children eat, and just how organic it may be (minimally treated? GMO free?) but what their nannies eat. I read a post recently on our neighborhood listserve by a parent who was convinced that her child would develop lifelong bad eating habits because  her nanny ate greasy Chinese food. She wanted to know how to make her stop.

And now, as I read and watch what’s unfurling in Egypt, with pro-democracy protesters being beaten in the streets, risking their lives to fight for something they believe in, my stomach turns. Just a little. And let me explain why.

One of our bloggers, Dasee Berkowitz, wrote a lovely post just before giving birth to her second child. She talked about how her body was about to physically contract to allow her to push out her daughter. And after that, her whole world was also going to contract. Having a child means that your world gets smaller. The borders of your daily life radically shift. It’s necessary.

But my daughter is now 16-moths-old and every day I see her whole world expanding. She has new words and new desires and a new understanding of what’s going on around her. And now, I realize, it’s time for my world to expand again too.

I’m not saying that I’m picking up and going to Cairo. I can’t even get it together to go to the gym. But I am saying that it’s time to get to a museum, a movie, dare I say, read a book. As much as I love my daughter, I never want my own world to stop expanding. What kind of example would that be setting?


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