The Theory of Parentivity and Other Equations

By: Lara Shecter

When my children returned to school in September, I was reminded once again of how quickly time is passing. I had just gotten over the shock of sending my eldest child off to Grade 1, when I suddenly found myself delivering him to school for his first day of Grade 2.

Albert Einstein may have been the first man to scientifically prove that time is not a constant, but I have no doubt that this was something parents suspected for many centuries.

In Einstein’s world of E=mc2 time is a variable that is dependent on how fast you are moving. In a parent’s world, time is a variable that is dependent on the birth of each child. I like to think of the parental equivalent of Einstein’s famous equation as The Theory of Parentivity. To put it simply, the amount of energy it takes to be a parent (E) is based on your loss of memory (m) multiplied by the number of children you have (c).

What this really means is that when you become a parent, your space-time-continuum undergoes a radical shift and your brain has a very hard time keeping up with the speed at which things are now moving. It goes something like this: One day you find out your pregnant, the next your baby is out of diapers, and then your child is off to school. Sure, there’s some stuff in between, but it’s all just a blur of activity.

I have found that the net effect of living in this black hole in time is that my old, reliable brain was replaced by what I refer to as my “mommy brain." “Where did I put my keys?" or “What did I have for breakfast?" are common refrains. My forgetfulness quickly escalated from the mundane to the momentous as I began forgetting things I swore I would always remember.

All those special moments that mark the different stages in my children’s development just seem to blend into each other and I am simply unable to organize events in chronological order.

Which of my children lost their first tooth in Kindergarten? Was my youngest daughter born yet when we went to Disneyland? Who started riding their bike without training wheels at age 4? Given enough time, I can usually come up with the correct answer, but not always.

The upside of all this time shifting is that I feel I have come a long way quickly, and I have attained quasi-expert parenting status in the blink of an eye. I realized I had crossed the bridge from novice to experienced parent when I met a lovely young woman who was a new mom and I had an overwhelming desire to flee from her.

When I was a new mom, I found comfort and support spending time with other new parents. However, once I had my third child, it became increasingly difficult for me to befriend someone who was fresh off the “no children" boat.

I think the reason for this odd reaction can be traced back to one thing: poop. When I was in the throws of my first parenting experience, poop was interesting. I had many conversations with other new parents about the frequency and consistency of our little angels’ bowel movements. I admit I even found it difficult to discuss my child in those early stages without broaching this subject. Once I had changed my one thousandth diaper, however, this topic no longer held the same intrigue.

Meeting up with a new parent now causes a similar reaction to the one I have when looking at my high school yearbook photo. I recognize myself, but I can’t quite believe that it was really me. New parents force me to ask, “Was I that neurotic? Could I really discuss breastfeeding for hours on end? Did I truly get panicky if my child ate a grape with the skin left on?" Of course, I was truly that neurotic and while I find it easy to sympathize with the dilemmas of new parents, it doesn’t mean I want to relive the experience.

While I am no Einstein, I have come up with another equation to explain a different reality of parenting. It can be summed up as PT=S4 or Parenthood multiplied by Time = lots of Stuff.

Before I had children, I could have been mistaken for a minimalist. When I was 18, I traveled around Europe for months with my entire life contained within my backpack. At 22, I moved across the globe to start a new job with a small suitcase of clothes in one hand, and a bag of my favorite books in the other. At 25, my husband and I moved the entire contents of our one-bedroom apartment to our new duplex using only our beat-up Toyota Corolla.

Then my son was born. Before I knew it, I had accumulated more stuff than I had ever thought possible. There was the cradle, the crib, the changing table, the diaper bin, the mobiles, the books, the toys, the clothes, the blankets, the sheets, the coats, the shoes, the boots, the strollers, the car seats, the high chairs, the booster seats, the medications, the swings, the jumpy seats, and the activity centers. And, that is the short list.

Recently, I gave what was left of my early baby gear to my cousin; it took two trips with our minivan just to get it all over to her house. This of course made just enough room in our house for our next round of gear: the bikes, the in-line skates, the soccer balls, the bats, the rackets, the dolls, the skis, the games, the inflatable toys, the nets, etc. Clearly, the only place for minimalism in my life now is my mind.

Clearly, math and science can go a long way in clarifying the workings of the universe, but perhaps the mysteries of parenthood are beyond their domain. In the endFree Articles, parenthood will always defy logic and can only be explained with four little letters: L-O-V-E.

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