Thursday, February 18, 2010

The 3 Forbiddens

I was going to write about this earlier, and then decided not to. Upon the facebook turmoil I caused the other day, I decided to go ahead and write.

There are three things you are taught to never discuss...

  1. Money
  2. Politics
  3. Religion
I am going to add a fourth to that list. 

I have found, becoming a mother, that it becomes your identity. I am not just Amanda anymore. I am not just the girlfriend, or just the wife, or just a friend anymore. I can't just slip away for an evening, or weekend and pretend that isn't my role. I am now, and always will be, the MOM. I am always wondering if I am doing the right thing, if they are happy, if they are healthy, if they have what they need, if they know they are loved. It will always be in the back of my mind no matter what I am doing. 

That said,  everyone has a parenting style. Most of what you know, you learned from your parents and family and your friend's families. You learn things that you think you should do and thing you think maybe not so much. I have noticed that those who have gone to college learned some from the "Child Growth and Development" class. I see a lot of that in my youngest sister. And, since it is now your identity, if anyone criticizes how you parent, not only is that a slight on what your parents taught you, but it is a slight against you as a person. 

Parenting to me, is very much like religion. There are many things that work for many people, but all doesn't work for all and you can't prove that what you are doing is the best or only way. People are VERY protective of their parenting and very convicted in what they are doing as right or what others are doing as wrong. I personally, don't mind. Because I know that if everyone did things the same, then we'd all have more of the same qualities. I know that there are some things that families do that I wish I could do, but it isn't feasible for me or my family. There are some things that I think are good ideas, but I just don't think it is a good idea for me or my family. But, I certainly enjoy hearing ideas, advice, opinions, etc. because I am always open to knew  new (think I'm a little tired.) ideas to make my and my families lives easier.

Any of you who know my childhood background, know that I don't come from a clean or structured household. I didn't learn some of the "standards" of household maintenance and upkeep. I learned some "un-standard" ways of parenting and like them just fine. I am pretty laid back, I don't fret over every little thing, I try to let the kids learn by doing, I am not worried about germs or dirt. I think I ended up just fine and that my siblings did as well. My husband on the other hand, comes from a more clean, structured environment. He has a harder time with my parenting style and on occasion remarks about it. I will admit... I feel attacked by his comments. I feel he is attacking me by attacking my parenting style. I know he doesn't mean for it to be an attack, but it's hard not to become defensive and very much the "momma bear." My kids are healthy, I am pretty sure happy, and very much still alive. I haven't starved them, they aren't dirty (usually but he's a toddler for Pete's sake. And who is Pete? I have no idea. But for his sake, he is a toddler and gets dirty), their diapers are changed, they get a lot of attention and cuddles and loves, and luckily, because there isn't really any way of controlling some sicknesses, diseases, or viruses, they aren't sick. But to hear a phrase of "it makes me nervous when he's doing something that makes you nervous," makes me think that I am not doing my job. Again, I know he doesn't mean it that way, but still. It does however, let me know and understand the replies and reactions to my "cry it out" post on facebook.

Linus was a dream. Once we figures out why he was throwing up 1000 times a day and would just cry when we laid him down and how to stop it, he slept well, he was consistent, and it was easy. I got a book from my DMIL (thanks Miss L, I love that term... Dear Mother In Law. She is not much in the way of a mother-in-law, no, she is much better. But it's hard to give her the same title of "mom" when I have my mom. How would anyone know who I was talking about if I called them both Mom?) sorry I got sidetracked... the book is called "Healthy Sleep Habits. Happy Child". My DSIL, Jessica, used it with her kids and she said it worked and recommended it. So, I was given the book and used it on him and he did amazing. I knew that every night, I'd bathe him, lotion him up, put his jammies on, swaddle him, pop a beenkie in, lay him on his boppie cause he had reflux so bad, and he'd sleep through the night with one waking at around 4 months of age and then no night wakings between 6-9 months. He was textbook perfect. I let him cry it out two nights around 6 months to get him to learn to sleep on his own. It was 15 minutes the first night, 5 or 10 the second night and then nothing. He'd lay down, roll over, and would rock himself to sleep. Even now, sometimes he'll walk himself to his room to go to sleep. His sleepy cues have become minute (rhymes with suit not sit), so it's been a little more difficult to not let him become overtired and a total spazz. I guess toddlers are hard because they need one and a half naps a day. When he becomes a spazz, I know we are going to fight about bedtime and he'll scream. But once he's asleep, he's usually down for the night. We know he wakes and that is normal and we don't go in. Unless we can tell by his cry that there is something wrong. Otherwise, he has his blankies and rocks himself (yes the rocking is very cute now but will be a little disturbing once he hits puberty.)

Bea on the other hand... let's just say she is a happy, delightful, bundle of joy and I love her very much. I think she's a doll. Unless it's about sleep. She is awful. She is such a visual baby that she wants to see everything. She hates to lay down. She wants to be upright looking at everything. She won't sleep if there is too much noise. She is such a girl it scares me already. The only thing that is consistent about her are her bowel movements. Sometimes she likes to be swaddled. Sometimes she likes a blanket. Sometimes she likes to be in a sleeping sack. Sometimes she likes to lie next to a rolled up blanket or pillow. It is such a pain. I've tried swings... she'll fall asleep but won't sleep for very long. If I stop the swing she wakes up. I've tried the white noise, but it has to be on continuously. If it's the Sleep Sheep that Linus got for Christmas one year, it's fine, but as soon as it turns off, she's awake. She is difficult to determine the level of jammies or blankets to use. She starts off cold, then gets too hot. If I keep her in something light, she never stays asleep long enough to warm up. She loves this particular blanket that one of my Great-Grandmas on my mom's side made. It is big though. She likes it when I roll it up and wrap it around her like a giant horseshoe. One end at her feet, along her side, up over her head, and along the other side to her feet. She loves to rub her hands over it, her head on it, and bury her face in the side. It is light and I don't worry about her suffocating. Especially because she will pull on it and it eventually goes over her face, she freaks out, and then we are up forever... but it's the only thing that is consistent to get her to sleep. I have tried the little vibrating papasan chair, I've tried the car seat, I've tried co-sleeping.  They all work sometimes and nothing works all of the time. So, I started the other day to let her cry it out. So, she cries. Then she works the blankets over her face and I can hear the panic so I go to her. We get her situated. She nuzzles, starts to sleep, wakes up a little, cries and the whole process starts. I've tried not using the blanket she loves to nuzzle and she just screams. It isn't cute little baby screams either, it's the scream that sounds like her vocal chords are being shredded and will soon cause vomiting.

She's stubborn. So am I. This is trouble and we haven't even really started. Matt called it "The unmovable object meets the impenetrable force."

When she does sleep good, she'll sleep all night, get up once, then she'll be up at 7AM SHARP. Well, she's up at 7am sharp every morning and the regularity of that is unnerving. I feed her, change her and then let her lay in be with me until Linus gets up. She falls asleep by then and then sleeps for 4 freaking hours. Matt has suggested that she sleep in bed with me tonight and if she sleeps well for a couple nights here, we may look into what we can do about getting a memory foam baby mattress.

They make those right?... I hope so, I do not want to be that couple that has a kid sleeping with them till they are 3. 4. 5. 10. Just because it's easier. Me? I don't sleep well when my baby sleeps in bed with me. And call me selfish, but I turn into el primo hag with a side of major don't-look-at-me-I'm-gonna-kill-you. My husband is that way when he hasn't eaten. He can go for days without sleeping and be pleasant and functional. Me? I can go for days without eating and be just fine, but I get only 8 hours of sleep, I am a little cranky. I go with only 3 to 5 hours like I have been, and I can barely get myself to the bathroom to pee. We don't get dressed, we stay in our jammies, I change the diapers only because I am empathetic and think they'd be AWFUL (not really, it's because I love them and don't want them to have owie diaper rashes, but you get the picture). Those are the days that Linus still gets his bottle in the morning. He and I sit and cuddle on the couch while he watches qubo and I get my small catnaps in. Once he's done watching tv, then we try to get going for the day, but sometimes I loose my cool, I cry, and I never once feel guilty that we've only just started getting going at noon. He loves the cuddling these days as do I. Bea is sleeping, so she doesn't care.

So, do I feel bad for making Little B cry it out? Of course I do. It makes me cry as she is crying. But at the same time, I know it isn't healthy for her to not be sleeping as little as she does. I know that I am doing what I feel is best for her and myself. I need her to be able to sleep all night. If I was like Matt and could survive on little to no sleep... I'd go to her all night and hold her as long as I could. I know that she hasn't had as much sleep as she should since I haven't been able to get the timing down like I did with Linus. She didn't nap after being up for an hour up to 3 months like the book suggests. No, she'd take one, maybe two naps a day. That isn't enough. She is showing the signs the book warns about with being sleep deprived. She is a hard baby and I am having a hard time keeping her sleeping as much as she should. She has this incessant whining that can go on for hours. It is grating on the nerves, but she was literally born doing that, so I put music on to tune it out. We are getting better, she and I. She sleeps in my bed during the day and sleeps longer and more often, so she sleeps longer at night, so she is a happier, better, easier baby. Unfortunately, we do have our setbacks because, like I said, nothing with her is consistent. Once I think I've got her dialed, she changes what she wants.

So, say I'm wrong, say I'm a bad parent and I'll probably go "momma bear" on you. Give me advice, share what you do with your kids, what your parents did with you, what you have heard works... I will listen, try what I can, and gracefully thank you for whatever you can tell me.

I do want to add one thing I told a friend of mine. I greatly respect your choices. I have met women who I thought were awful, horrible moms, and should never raise children. Ever. But I have the honor of knowing many, many friends and family members who are amazing. Some have easy kids, some have little demons (Miss K, your child by far is the scariest. She is scary smart and is lucky to have you for her mom because otherwise, she may be like Brain from Pinky and the Brain and try to take over the world. And succeed), and all of them have made some pretty great choices. I am awed and thankful to know so many moms who are so convicted in their choices in parenting their kids. You each have done very well by your kids so far as I have seen. I quite frankly had no idea that parenting would put you into "guilt hell" where you feel guilty for the choices you make because you never know at the time or if ever that they are the right ones. I personally don't feel ready to take on preschool, grade school, puberty, junior high, high school, DATING... the list goes on.

It gives me very different view on my parents. The people who have guided me, who knew all of the answers, provided me: food, shelter, clothing, who were always the smartest people I knew, were the strongest people I knew, they are the superheros. I can't fill those shoes. I still feel like I'm just a kid and still call my mommy cause I need her sometimes. Or I call my dad cause I have a problem and he can always fix it. I am terrified that I am going to mess up these little kids. They are going to be like my husband and me through high school. Little shits who I love and would still do anything for even though they are making choices that I can't comprehend or do anything about and have to fix when they realize they've made a mistake.

But don't tell me I'm doing it wrong dangit!

Huh, Bea just rolled over for the first time. Ugh, they grow up so fast. :)


kelly said...

I just want to say that I think you are a great mom. I don't think that I could handle two kids, let alone two kids who are both so young. Add in the crazy that are the dogs, and Mat into the mix and frankly, I'm impressed you are still remotely sane. =)

Also, I'm actually hoping that the rugrat takes over the world. I could enjoy the prestige and accolades of being the mom to the most important person in the world without the responsibility of doing anything.

Jinksfam said...

YOU are a great mom! You can do it and everyone needs to cry it out once in a while. I am glad to hear that there is another mom out there that feels guilty, and that I am not the only one that sometimes doesn't know what to do. We are all human! Please let me know if I can do anything for you. I do have my hands full but would be glad to lend another one.