Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I use to have this regular 'stress' dream -- I show up on my wedding day with no dress, no lovely coiffure, and my generally ragged nails. Its not an atypical image for me (especially now as I sport my island girl attitude, with hair that could care less if sees a hair brush any time soon). But early last week that usual dream transferred to one about Baby Stefanski. It's Thanksgiving, and baby is about to arrive. I haven't gone to birthing classes and decide I should just wing it. When baby does pop out, I don't have a car seat, diapers, or clothes. And I haven't put the turkey in and those cherries in the freezers aren't going to make it into my much talked about cherry pie.

So I decide to get on the ball -- signing up for classes, putting together the shopping list, etc. etc, when my much beloved colleague says to me -- you should sign up for infant care. Seems a bit early, but when my doctor asks me later that afternoon if I've chosen a hospital I tell her its on my to-do list along with birthing classes and infant care. Her response: Prioritize infant care above the other two. So yesterday I went about putting my infant-to-be-named-later on infant care waiting lists -- inserting "Projected" before the DOB line item, "TBD" in the child's name category, and "T minus 3 months" in the age bracket. I'm hoping that a sense of humor gets me somewhere (I wasn't able to drop that I'm the ED of the Maine Women's Fund which has thus far managed to get me into closed classes and an awesome apartment without background checks :)

At one highly recommended center, I was told it was unlikely that my infant would ever make it into the infant care but that at least she was on the list for toddler care. In the same breath, she suggested I call St. Elizabeth's and I said great -- do they do infant care? No, said the voice on the other end of the phone, but their toddler program is the best in Portland and if you get on the list now, you should be assured a spot.

I guess I expect this kind of madness out of competitive urban centers, and less from my "laid-back-toss-your-child-into-a-wheel-barrow" Maine. On that front, there was a very funny article in this month's Down East -- City Mom, Country Mom -- written my a Maine transplant to NYC who is raising her kids with this dual identity. She writes:

"Viewed from New York, the land of padded playgrounds and antibacterial gel, Maine can seem like the land of the parentally supervised toddler death wish." Her examples include the laxed response of parents when their toddler is mule kicked by a llama at a forth of July party. "But," she continues "it would be too neatly oppositional to imply that all Maine parents are paragons of laissez-faire childness. My Maine mother's group introduced me to a whole slew of worries I wasn't aware I should be entertaining... None of them vaccinate their kids -- ever [and] autism isn't the root concern. More objectionable is that the government forces everyone to vaccinate their kids."

"In Maine," she concludes, "the seemingly lack of kidnappers and mad cabbies lets parents free their head space to worry about kids' civil liberties..."

I think I'm going to like parenting in Maine.