Struggling through with joy...
Struggling through with joy...
I am accidentally one of those bad mothers you read about in parenting magazines: the mother who doesn't sleep train her baby. With T, I followed the advice of those parenting articles to the letter. He was a good sleeper naturally, which one article states always happens if parents don't get in the way. I have a feeling this will be my challenge throughout parenting: getting in the way of my own child.
R refuses to sleep through the night. Lately, she refuses to sleep for more than 2 to 3 hours without the comfort of mommy or daddy holding her, or me nursing her. Because I'm exhausted and I hate letting her cry, I almost always scoop her up and lay her between us, where she snuggles in and promptly falls back asleep. I realize she is not learning to self-soothe. She's learning to mom-soothe.
Now my champ sleeper is also having issues. Issues with the baby sleeping in our room, in our bed. Last night he cried hysterically and begged for someone to sleep with him. We tried to convince he and the cat they would be good bedmates, but neither agreed. So daddy squeezed onto the other half of T's twin bed and slept with him until I quietly came in and woke him, not wanting to be alone in our bed.
Which is why I completely understand my son's anger and angst at having to sleep alone. Even the dog gets to sleep in our room, in her crate, but still, in our room. I suspect T would happily camp on our floor just to be part of the sleeping action.
I don't know what the solution is. I think we have some hard weeks of sleep training R up ahead, and I hope T will be content to stay in his room knowing his sister is on the other side of the wall in her room once we get her transitioned. Many people would suggest we just become co-sleepers, but that won't work for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, my husband would not sleep. He's a light sleeper to begin with, and two kids in the bed would be a recipe for no sleep. Our bed isn't big enough, and it's so old and saggy we'd all be piled in the middle. Plus, it's our bed. It is the last and only place left in the house that is just for us, for our marriage, for our two bodies tucked together. I miss him when we can't cuddle before sleep.
We will just continue sleeping with one or the other of the kids until we manage to get them sleeping on their own, in that imperfect way most real parents do things. In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy the fact that my mere presence is enough to comfort my sweet baby, who settles right into sleep when she feels me next to her. I know I will long for that power when she's older.
Monday, the world was covered in ice, or so it seemed. It looked fairly innocent, but as I watched our neighbor skate across the street in his hiking boots I decided I wasn’t braving the roads with the kids. We aren't used to ice storms in Grand Junction, so the storm caught all of us by surprise and resulted in a lot of cars on the side of the road and mismanaged school cancellations. Unlike many people, I was lucky enough to have the day off already, so I called T’s preschool and R’s pediatrician and cancelled, and we all stayed home.
As a teacher, I get a lot of time at home with my kids, even more now because I’m working part time. This is an amazing benefit of the job, and it also allows me to glimpse into the world of the stay-at-home mom. And it allows me to think, “Holy crap, this is maddening/wonderful/soul-crushing/relaxing/boring…” depending on the day. Or the moment.
There is no beginning and there is no end when you’re home with the kids. If I’m lucky, there might be thirty minutes in the afternoon where they’re both asleep, and I have a minute to a) fold the laundry residing on the couch b) read my book c) take a nap next to the baby. I usually (always) choose a combination of b and c, because I’m selfish. Often, by the afternoon, I’m so worn out I need a minute to be someone other than a mom, even if the other someone is a bookish nerd or a tired middle-aged woman cuddling a briefly sleeping baby.
I often fantasize about being a stay-home-mom, but in my fantasies we have enough money to hire a house cleaner and I get to take the kids to their grandparents a couple times a week, OR my husband also stays at home and we’re all together and happy all the time. My husband has pointed out that both of these scenarios are highly unlikely as he chats with me over a pile of clean socks in the middle of our bed. My fantasies tend to be fantastical.
The ice day, however, was special. It was special in its ordinariness. I cleaned the kitchen, sorted some laundry, I even folded one load and put half of it away. T and I played with play-doh, we made an obstacle course with yoga mats, chairs and wood blocks, we ate cheese quesadillas. The baby gobbled up her cereal and mystery puree, she squeaked in delight as T and I raced through the obstacle course in our socks, and in the afternoon, T napped while I rocked R, reading.
There are some days, rare days, when I feel deeply the full spectrum of my blessings: warm home, healthy, usually happy kids, good marriage, abundance all around. The icy day was one of those days. Treacherous roads trapped us inside together, and while many others struggled through their days, I got to be at home with my most beloved. There was a part of me that was wise enough to see the day for what it was: a small gift. These days are the ones to tuck away, to pull out when things get tough, and remember how, so often, the best days are the ordinary days.