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Monday March 10, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday March 10, 2014 MYT 8:09:40 AM
by mary schneider
Life is not what it used to be.
LIFE is becoming so stressful these days that many foetuses are suffering. It seems that floating around in warm amniotic fluid in a cozy womb is not always the blissful experience it should be.
Just before their regular check-ups with their obstetricians, many pregnant women get stressed about their weight.
Too much weight gain, and they get a mini lecture. Too little, and they get a mini lecture. And a stressed mother makes for a stressed foetus.
I remember skipping breakfast before going to one such check-up, just so I would be a bit lighter when I stood on those damned weighing scales.
After I’d seen the doctor, I went straight to the hospital bakery and scoffed two giant cinnamon buns on the spot. On the drive home, I stressed about the buns in my stomach, and also the two uneaten ones on the seat beside me. I was so stressed, I succumbed to the pressure and ate them both before I reached home.
When your unborn baby kicks you, it’s because it’s fed up with all the stress crossing the placenta. So you’re born stressed. Then they hold you upside down and smack you on the bottom until you cry. More stress.
Then your parents fuss over your progress and compare you with other children. You hear it all the time at mother-toddler groups: one-upmanship taken to the extreme.
“Clare had her front teeth at six months.”
“Britney had hers at four months.”
“Well, my little Johnnie was born with teeth.”
“Clare began walking at 12 months.”
“That’s a bit slow, Britney took her first steps at seven months.”
“Well, my little Johnnie jumped off the delivery table and walked over to the nurse to get his bottom smacked. That’s why we nicknamed him Johnnie Walker.”
Disappointed by her child’s lack of achievement, Clare’s mother probably took the slow-starter home, sat her down and made her memorise Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. “We’ll show Johnnie’s mum a thing or two at the next meeting.”
More stress – for everyone. Once they get to schooling age, many children find themselves under pressure to get good grades.
“If you don’t study hard, you will end up sweeping rubbish from the roads,” is a common announcement come exam day. Consequently, everyone is stressed out on report card day.
University students are under even more pressure. “We’re paying a lot for your education, so don’t waste it,” is a common chant when parents speak to their university-going children during semester breaks.
Parents also can’t resist giving unsolicited advice.
“Are you dating yet? No? Oh, that’s good. It’s probably best not to date until you’re at least 60. You need to graduate, find a job and earn enough money for a down payment on a small apartment before you can even think about settling down.”
And if you’ve no intention of settling down and producing 2.4 grandchildren, you might as well inject the stress right into your parents’ veins. It’s even worse if you’re not heterosexual. Mega stress alert!
And when you do eventually get that job, you know what that means? Yes, more stress. You’re new, so you want to prove yourself. So if your boss asks you to work on the weekend, you do it. If he gives you impossible deadlines, you don’t complain. If he doesn’t give you the pay rise he hinted at during the job interview, you suck it up. Stress. Stress. Stress.
And you know what happens when you show that you’re so compliant? You’re expected to be that way all the time. Of course, you could rebel, stand up for yourself, and say, “Enough is enough!” But that’s not going to get you far. Maybe just as far as the company car park, after security has escorted you off the premises. Stress.
Somehow you make it to about 50, and you start thinking about retirement. The way things are going, with your 2.4 children still at an expensive university, and the mortgage still going, and the annual trips overseas (because you need to get away to relieve your stress and you also want to see something of the world before you die), you might have to work until you’re 90.
But when you see your 5.76 grandchildren, it will all be worthwhile.
That’s until you’re asked to babysit. You can barely see the liver spots on the back of your hand, so you don’t know how you can follow the complicated feeding instructions on the milk powder tin, but you can’t say no. And if you say yes, just once, you know what will happen?
As I write this, I’m feeling so stressed that I’m grinding my teeth. If I have to go to the dentist to replace the teeth that have been ground to powder, I won’t be able to afford to go to my daughter’s graduation in a few months. She will never forgive me.
But if I show up with half my teeth missing, she will be stressed about me spoiling the photos.
To avoid all this stress, I will practise smiling and talking with my mouth closed. I will probably sound like a ventriloquist’s dummy, but that’s nothing to get stressed about.
Or is it?
Check out Mary on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mary.schneider.writer. Reader response can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Opinion, Lifestyle, mary schneider, stress
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