Reward

Creating new habits in order to starve off others.
Curbing habits in order to feed others.

I’m fascinated by the various ways people accomplish tossing bad habits.
And, I always wonder how successful people become motivated, and then stay motivated. This is a skill I have never mastered.

Some people drink diet Coke so that they can eat ice cream.
Some people workout every day after work so they can go out drinking on the weekends.
Others start a chewing gum addiction to help them quit smoking.
Some people elevate their goals to be of monumental, yet attainable heights, and visualize that goal daily while working so hard to achieve it.

Some use positive reinforcement.
Some use negative consequence,
I truly believe that some people just possess innate drive.
Personally, I need both positive reinforcement and reward. And that reward needs to be different than anything else I’ve ever received, unless it’s money. (Cold hard cash is always an effective motivator.)

Having a baby and raising one has been hard.
The rewards are confusing: they are tiny and huge at the same time. However priceless and invaluable they are, they are easily taken for granted.
The reward is also not immediate: waiting for that first smile seemed like years, yet 3 months later I can’t explain why I don’t try to capture the barrage of smiles beaming from her every few minutes.
It also hard because the goal is not clear and is forever changing.
So far, my goals have ranged from: “keep your unborn baby safe” to “prevent an ear infection by un-sucking all the boogers” to “choose the best babysitter” to “start a college saving plan.”

My daughter is my new habit.
It has starved off many many many other habits, some that are missed and some which are forgotten.
And seeing her smile is one of the best rewards I never knew to ask for.

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But, She Hasn’t Even Been Born Yet!

I’m 21 weeks pregnant and my wife and I are knee-deep in the daycare selection process. Yes, we know, the baby hasn’t even left my womb and we’re already looking for other people to take care of her. I wish that there was a local “manny” service we could call, but realistically and financially this is the avenue we need to be on. And because she’ll be an only child (at least for now), the socialization will be good. It is common that popular daycares book up many months in advance. And I think it’s wise that we are getting this out if the way while we have the spare time.

(Side note: If you’re a dog-owner, this process will feel oddly similar to selecting a boarding kennel, except emotionally times 10,000.)

Before we started touring these facilities, I had to separate my ideal wants from realistic expectations. I’m sure most new parents do this also. Ideally, I want the ratio of caregiver to baby to be 1-1, realistically it’s going to be more like 1 to 2-3 babies. One deal-breaker I had in mind was if we picked up on any weird anti-gay-parent vibes from the caregivers. So far, I’m proud to report that out of the 3 facilities we’ve toured, all if them didn’t as much as flinch when I introduced my wife as “my wife.” Because I’ve been so focused on the most important priorities regarding infant care (i.e., safety, cleanliness, attention, diapering, feeding, etc.), I haven’t yet questioned if and how same-sex parents are recognized in the classroom. Maybe I’m not as concerned because I can’t imagine my baby growing past the age of 3 months, or maybe I’m naive to think that just because I live in a state of marriage equality, that it will automatically be a positive experience for our child wherever they end up.

On the next tour, I will bring this topic up, and I’ll be sure to report back with the results.