Due Date Math

Image by Brenda.

Math is a planning and a decision-making tool. Take family planning: When are we going to have our first child? Shall we have another? Let's make this last complex question simpler by reversing the proposition: So, we are set on NOT having any (more) kids, right? No? Then the time is now as my reproductive years are running out. And you, can you imagine playing soccer or doing a hula hoop contest with your kid twelve years from now without getting a heart attack? I'll take five years off work, we'll have two or three kids, all close to each other in age. They'll be friends and play with each other. I'll restart my career afterwards. All this planning usually helps but as we all know some random unexpected events surprise us along the way, changing the proposed life itinerary and turning it into this crazy hectic thing we are all trying to control.

Take me as an example. I have been planning, as I always do. But I forgot to take into account a few variables and now mercilessly being reminded of this every April. This is when our son was born – our wonderful April's Fool surprise. We were happy not to worry about reaching the hospital in a snowstorm. We loved seeing him blossoming along with the gentle spring flowers. I also liked my stylish winter maternity clothes and was terrified to imagine my round-bellied body in a wide, summer, baby doll dress. So, when a couple of years later we decided to have another child, we relied on math to match an April's due date. I counted 38 weeks backwards from my son's birthday and hid the TV remote control for a week. Our daughter was born in April just five days after her older brother's birthday. When our kids became older, however, I realized a glitch in my calculations. Together with the first blossoms of spring, April brings the tax deadline, Passover, school vacation, camp registration deadlines and two sets of birthday parties. As soon as our son is opening his last birthday gift, my daughter's cake is ready for pickup, and we have twenty more goody bags and thank you notes ahead of us. And what do you think saves us from going mad every year in April? Of course - planning. We learned to plan our April way ahead of April. Does it sound like treating substance abuse with a substance? Like flushing a morning-after hangover with a beer?

You may assume that all this has taught us that while short-term planning mostly works, in the long-term life has way too many unforeseen deviations and any kind of long-term estimation will have a major component of uncertainty. Sure, it did. Still, if this remote control ever disappears again, I'll have to count 38 weeks up to make sure it does not fall on April.

Read more about exciting math of parenting in Shadow Stories.


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