Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I want to be a polar bear momma. Polar bear females hibernate when they give birth, and then continue hibernating for next next 4-5 months. During that time they nurse their cubs, and emerge when it is spring, and the cubs are mature enough to follow their momma. Can you imagine not only giving birth in your sleep, but not losing any sleep with small babies?

Blame it on our large heads. Since human brains are so large, our babies are born "premature" compared to the rest of the mammals. This makes them helpless, and unable to meet their needs for food on their own. A tiny joey (baby kangaroo) is born the size of a bean, inches up to its mother's nipple, and stays latched on for months. A human baby can do only one thing: cry, and hope that someone will feed it.

Nursing a human baby is hard. Every time when I am pregnant, I feel that half of my brain cells disappear. They are probably too preoccupied with making sure I do not upchuck in a random place, or are processing new sensations: what is that funny twinge? Ooh, cannot bend like that anymore! But pregnancy brain has nothing on nursing brain. I estimate my brain power at 10%. I can envision the brain cells melting and turning into nutrients for the baby. Coherent thoughts morph into wispy clouds and fade. No wonder sleep deprivation is a method of torture.

I wish I was a polar bear, hibernating, and waking up to a toddling human being.

Oh, I can rattle off the advantages of breastfeeding with the best of them. I have nursed all my kids, and it is a great bonding experience and it is wonderful and natural and always available. But nursing is also hard work. I am always hungry and always searching for food. I am always tired. Each nursing session takes time. That oxytocin makes me sleepy. At some point, the baby decides to experiment with biting. Ahh, the blissful joys of nursing...

So while I am staunchly pro-nursing, I honestly admit that I do not enjoy every minute of it. Now, could it be that my kids feel the same way about their schoolwork? Could they enjoy some aspects of learning, but not be enjoying all the learning, all the time? Why would I expect them to be enthusiastic about davening when some days they might not feel that connection to Hashem? What about Chumash? Some days are full of insights, while others we just do it "to get it over with"?

So while the days of open-eyed wonder feel good (not to mention make great blog posts), the days of less enthusiasm are not a tragedy either. It is the long view that counts: do my kids have more positive learning experiences than negative ones? As long as the overall tally is on the plus side, I think we are OK. If it's not, then we can try something else.

Meanwhile I will continue with nursing. That heavy fur coat would be uncomfortable in this heat anyway.

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