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Nature Vs. Nerdture

A Geek Parenting Column by Melissa Megan

So, it’s been awhile. Sorry about that. Turns out this parenting thing only gets more time consuming as they get older and more aware of everything. The child becomes aware of whether you are looking at him, holding him, feeding him, listening to him, making funny faces for him, in the same room as him. We still call Max “the tiny dictator” because he still lives up to that name. At 6 months old, he now has several new sounds he can make to express his excitement or his displeasure. Almost every hour of the day he’s making a mess either by barfing, pooping, drooling or peeing, sometimes doing more than one at once. It’s all very magical. Not really.

Many times over the past two months I thought about sitting down to write another episode of this column but the words just didn’t come to me. About a month ago, I was having a chat over a beer with my Talking Comics colleague, Bob Reyer, and trying to verbalize my frustration with the lack of material to offer for the column. I realized in that conversation that when I started writing Nature Vs. Nerdture, I was full of questions and curiosity about what was to come on my journey. I am not going to claim I know it all by any means, but I think part of what has been holding me back is that becoming more comfortable in my new role as a mom means that I have far less questions now to explore. I’m working this thing out as I go along and I think I’m doing pretty good at it so far. Which means, I can’t rely on my insecurity or naivete’ anymore to carry me, I’ve got to present this parenting quest to you in a new way and hopefully keep us both intrigued enough to keep this column going.


So, what do parents do when their little bundle of newborn squeaks and squawks starts growing in to a grabby, screaming, giggling, crawling toddler? It’s no longer about ‘how do we do this’ or ‘which (enter baby device) do we use’. Now it’s all about development. Is my baby developing like her baby is? Should he be crawling by now? What percentile is he in for height and weight? Is his head a good shape? Are his coos becoming words yet? Should his motor skills be better? Is he using his hands/feet/head/eyes/tongue enough? Yes, these are all actual questions that parents ask themselves and their doctors at this point.

As a nerdly type, of course I feel a certain need to be assured that my boy is developing well (minimally) or ahead of the curve (ideally). He doesn’t need to be an overachiever just yet, but I’d like him to know the difference between R2-D2 and C-3PO by his 2nd birthday. Is that really too much to ask? So far, Max has been in the 97% percentile for the first six months of his life. In weight and height, that is. So, he’s a portly fella, which I’m told in baby world is not only ok but perfectly healthy and extra cute. We’re hoping he stays that way till Halloween, because he’d make an excellent Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. He’s rolling, one way. He gets on his belly, then does ‘supermans’ until someone helps him flip over. I’m convinced he’s just more interested in learning to fly than turning himself on his back. He’s got excellent hand control, which he exhibits by tearing out clumps of my hair. And the boy can blow raspberries with bubbles and everything.

The "Stare Down"

The “Stare Down”

I guess this episode is all about development, for both me and Max. I’ve grown to feel much more relaxed about my new role and about the mistakes that I’ll inevitably make. I’ve developed new skills like doing virtually anything with one hand, changing a diaper in less than a minute, in the dark, and breast feeding in public without exposing a nipple. Both Mr Megan and I have been forced to work on our grasp of time management, compromise and functioning on less than 6 hours of sleep. Emotionally, I’ve already learned to care less about what other people think of my skills as a parent but to care more about how other people feel, in general. I cry a lot more than I used to, and not just when the animals die in the movies. The real development is a three person collaboration, bending to accommodate each other in this new and complex unit. It’s challenging, incredibly rewarding and painfully frustrating all at once.

As usual, I would love to hear from the Talking Comics readers about your personal developments, in parenthood or otherwise. Sharing all the craziness on my road to mommyhood with you all is even more fun when I can learn from you. Thanks for reading!

7 Responses

  1. James Hammond

    To Melissa.

    I’ve been with my partner since I was 13, its been 12 years now and not a week goes by where I don’t think about life as a parent.

    I always pictured healthy children in my mind with the only challenges they face being social ones, which I mulled over in my mind for years before I figured out my solution. That felt great, I had done what my parents had not, building a plan with contingencies for my child’s well being through school and such.

    But reading your concerns about the health of your child, damn… now that made me feel powerless. It occurs to me that I took the child’s health for granted.

    Thank you for this, its something to think ahead about, after all this will probably be my last year before trying for a child; It will be good for me to have as much thought out as possible.

    Thanks, James.

    • Melissa Megan

      James, thanks so much for reading and sharing that! The fact that you are already thinking about how to give your child the best social tools that you can says alot about what an amazing parent you will be. In my opinion, the best thing you can do to prepare them for the scary world out there is teach them problem solving and critical thinking skills. That way, they will be ready to make their own, hopefully well thought out decisions to do what is best for their own well being.

      On the other hand, I would like to say to you: stop thinking so much! One thing I’ve learned already is that your child will be born with some level of his own identity and all you can do as a parent is make them feel loved. In fact, that is the most important thing you can do. Having a child and raising one to survive and be healthy in this society is a huge risk in itself, but it’s one with the biggest reward you will ever know.
      Good luck on your journey in to parenthood!

  2. Jatman

    A terrific topic!

    My girlfriend and I recently had a daughter, she’s two months old now. I find myself in a lot of the situations you’re talking about here!

    I think the biggest change for me is not having almost any time to myself (let’s be honest, most long periods of free time are used for naps if you’re able!)

    I do find gratification like I’ve never known every time I see her do something for the first time though.

    Before she was born, my head was spinning at all the things I love that I could finally share with someone that would have an unbiased opinion. I can’t wait to see her make special bonds with her own characters, and (fingers crossed) maybe some of the ones I love too! 🙂

    • Melissa Megan

      Congratulations! That’s so awesome. Hang in there, man. At around 5 months she’ll look you right in the eye and laugh at something you said for the first time. After that, it all becomes way more fun. Tonight I handed Max a kitchen whisk and sat back and watched him figure it out. Amazing to watch their little brains grow!
      Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience.

  3. Will

    Thanks for the thoughtful column. I’m a mostly stay at home dad of an 8th month old and am continuing to experience a lot of similar questions. I like to think I’m an expert on our baby, but many times I realize we are just learning together every day.

    One of my challenges has been getting over guilt of wanting time away from my baby, both time alone, and time just with me and my spouse. Even though I miss my baby girl after less than 15 minutes away, I know I can love her better after a little rejuvenation (and am grateful to my spouse, family, and friends for helping to make that possible).

    And we had a small victory that when she had the choice to play with her Sesame Street or Star Wars bath book, she went for the Star Wars book.

    Thanks again for sharing and look forward to future columns!

    • Melissa Megan

      I understand the guilt, completely. I went back to work when Max was only 2 months old and for at least a month I felt like I was abandoning him every time I handed him over to the sitter. Now, work feels like a mini vacation! I also remember the first time my husband and I went out for a date after his birth. We realized halfway through dinner that the only thing we were talking about was the baby. I think finding ‘yourself’ again after baby is one of the most challenging parts of this process. I’m still struggling with it myself. Good thing they are so cute!
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing!

  4. Jatman

    I’ve just discovered my Abby’s favorite song! Carl Douglas’s Kung Fu Fighting, needless to say it made my day haha

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