The stress of parenting overwhelmed me long before I became a parent, starting with a series of fertility tests, for which, unlike the SAT’s, there are no tutors or Kaplan course to help.
My stress level remained elevated during my age-related “high-risk pregnancy,” followed by a c-section that was resorted to after 22 hours of “non-progressive labor” and then the common nursing concern, “is he getting enough milk?” Once he outgrew the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, there was a respite. We were lucky enough to have a kid with no allergies who wasn’t interested in sticking his fingers into electrical outlets.
Anxiety returned when we were checking out pre-schools, unsure if they were auditioning our son or our ability to contribute to their annual fund. This process — and the accompanying stress — was repeated each time he was changing schools. During the notoriously stressful college application process, I whined to a friend, “It seemed important at the time, but where he went to pre-school really didn’t matter. In fact, neither did where he went to middle or upper school. I wish I could hold onto that and calm down about this college stuff.”
My friend, who’d been a college counselor and school head, surprised me by saying, “Where they go to college doesn’t matter.”
“Then what does matter?”
She smiled. “Whom they marry.”
That made sense. Having gone to NYU in no way compared to the impact my husband has had on my life. Except for an economics professor explaining “the theory of declining utility” by pointing out that the first bites of pizza taste better than subsequent ones, I remember nothing I was taught. I have no friends from college, and I think about NYU only once a day, around 6:30 p.m, when I get a call from the development office, hoping to solicit a donation.
Our son recently announced he’ll be getting married, and my friend’s pronouncement came back to me. My husband and I were over the top, ecstatic. We adore his fiancée and could not be happier. I called my friend, reminding her what she’d said 12 years ago. “You were right,” I told her, “but in this case, where he went to school did matter. That’s where they met.”
You can find Sybil at www.sybilsage.com.