The Path of Moderate Resistance

I believe that taking the path of least resistance–while very Tao, maaan, VERY Tao–is usually the lazy path, the indecisive path, the path of fear and trepidation and the path least likely to lead to change or measurable results.

I also believe that taking the path of most resistance–of choosing to do something difficult for the sake of doing it or because it’s the accepted thing to do, or somebody bullied you into it–is pointlessly messing with the natural flow of life and will probably lead to failure, pain, fear, and loss.

By the way, this is not a political post. I feel like I always have to clarify that these days.

My son had a doctor’s appointment recently and when his snarky condescending doctor asked about his sleep habits, I told her (some of) the truth: he still wakes up at night but less often. Sometimes he goes back to sleep on his own, sometimes he calls for me and I have to lie down with him to get him back to sleep.

She didn’t say anything, but she did give me the wicked side eye. She’s a proponent of sleep training, you see. She has three children and she’s a doctor so she knows everything there is to know about children and sleep habits. Except for children who hate sleeping, of course, which is my child.

I know that if I had asked (and belieeeeeve me, I learned not to ask for her advice or opinion a long time ago), she would have chided me for not reading the 6 books she recommended to me forever ago and told me that I’m a horrible mother for helping my child fall asleep. She also once told me that if I rock my infant son, he’ll still be 13 years old and expecting me to rock him. I’m absolutely positive that’s true. All 13-year-old boys who were rocked to sleep demand their mothers rock them every night. That’s common knowledge, right?

But my son’s like me: busy minded. And it’s hard for us to fall asleep. So I lie down with him. We watch a couple of videos on my phone (also a no-no according to everyone who can sleep without help). We talk about what we did that day or about his toys or about the video we just watched. And I let him snuggle up to me and pull my head toward his for kisses until he falls asleep.

I don’t think I’m taking the path of least resistance. I don’t co-sleep (unless I fall asleep there which… happens but it’s not a parenting philosophy so much as a pitfall). I don’t succumb to every pre-bed time request (more water, more videos, more play time).

But I refuse to take the path of most resistance because of the damage I know it’ll do. He’s still a young toddler and I don’t see anything wrong with helping him get to sleep. I do all the things with him that I do on my own to help me fall asleep. When he gets a little older, I’ll teach him that he can do all of those things by himself. But I’m not going to leave him crying or screaming or helpless to get his body to rest when I know what the problem is and how to solve it. That’s just cruel.

I get the feeling that a lot of the “training” activities the “experts” are so fond of are just excuses for adults to be selfish and force their children to be more convenient. Potty training at 16 months? It’s because you don’t want to change diapers anymore. Cry It Out? It’s because you want to get more sleep. I like convenience too but I also enjoy not screwing up my kid for the sake of my ME time.

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Flip It, Baby

Within the last few weeks, a switch must have flipped in my son’s brain because suddenly, he is a word machine. Today, he learned how to say “cool” and “Oh, wow, cool!”

But my favorite is “down” because he pronounces it “dow-wan.”

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Of course, this is the end of the silence. He never stops talking now. And I’m expected to understand everything he says or he gets upset. Luckily, his favorite subjects are Star Wars, cars, and his grandparents so all I really have to say is, “Does Kylo Ren drive Nonno’s car?” and he’ll go off on that subject for a while.

My Beeswax is Over Here

Today I went to a playgroup and it was not awful!

A neighboring town’s library holds a 45 minute playgroup every week and since my search for affordable day care has gone horribly… so so horribly*, I’m checking out free options for kid interaction instead.

*I should explain. Daycare would be helpful for work reasons but more than that, I want to socialize my shy kid. Turns out, part-time day care is more than I would make working extra hours. I could have a fleet of cars for the price of part-time day care. I could have a much bigger house. I could spend a weekend a month in Las Vegas for the amount they want me to pay for part-time day care. So… playgroups, here we come.

We went on An Adventure today! Our first trip to the library! Our first playgroup! Our first time spent with multiple children of the same age as my little guy! Very Exciting… for Mommy. The kid, not so much. I’m thinking it might take more than one visit for him to acclimate.

c3701b8147a87663f25cf2bf55f4ba19The reason I’ve avoided playgroups until now, and I really am starting to sound like I have some major beef with them, but honestly it was because of Scary Mommy. I’ve read so much anti-other mom bologna, so many The Five Awful Moms You’ll Meet At Playgroup-type articles, so very many “Hover Moms are Ruining Everything!” rants that I got stuck in an introvert fear bubble and assumed the very worst.

It really wasn’t that bad. There were hover moms and sit back & watch moms and grandmas and a grandpa. There were kids who cried, kids who stomped around, kids who spun and fell down, kids who tried to take all the toys, kids who attached themselves firmly to their mommy and refused to let go until the instruments came out (that would be my kid), and totally chill participating kids. It was normal. Totally normal! This is how kids are. This is how the people who care for them are. It’s really not that big a deal.

Yeah, one kid hopped on the back of the chair my kid was sitting on and tried to push him off. His mom came over and grabbed him and apologized. There was a kid wandering around yelling adorably at people. We all thought it was cute and didn’t care. There was a 2 year old the size of a 5 year old who ran around at the back of the room. It was fine. There was a kid who screamed at 10 minute intervals. Whatever.

Maybe some of the caretakers were cranky, maybe there were glares and glances and judgment but I didn’t notice. I just focused on my kid and the group leader and thought it was lovely. Maybe that’s the secret right there: mind your own beeswax and everything will be fine.

We’re going again next week. I might be the more excited of the two of us.

Do You Even GLOW the Second Time Around?

I am Facebook friends with a woman about to give birth and I almost envy her her naiveté. She’ll lose that soon enough. Today she posted the most beautiful picture of herself in full belly bloom standing in the forest, gazing upward toward a hazy, half-obscured sun. Absolutely gorgeous. Oh honey, enjoy it now because hell awaits you.

I’ve been reading on various mommy websites about second children and how very different the experience is while watching my husband’s cousin half-way through her second pregnancy. Things I’ve noticed/read: No one gives a shit about your second pregnancy like they did your first. Life is much less magical and full of hope and possibility. Homegirl does not have the energy for photo shoots and has zero interest in being beautifully pregnant and glowing (not that she glowed the first time either. Or ever. She’s not exactly the model of positive pregnancy here, just the only woman I currently know on her way to kid #2).

So when I think, “Yeah, it might be nice to have another,” I also remind myself that this isn’t a do-over of the first. This isn’t me taking naps and being waited on by my husband and registering for all the things and cooing over every little tiny sock. Well, wait… no, I might still coo. Those things are adorable. I just think it’s really important to remember that I have a Tasmanian Devil of a toddler and as magical as my first pregnancy may have felt, a second one might be more of a pain in the ass.

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Those tiny socks, though!

 

Who is This A Problem For?

My husband and I stood in the mini mechanized vehicle aisle at Toys r Us debating the purchase of a toddler bed while our son climbed in and out of a pink and purple Frozen-themed jeep. We had been considering something car-shaped because our son, like his father, is a car enthusiast. He saw pictures of various car beds on our phones as we online-shopped and showed his excitement with “Vrrrroooom” noises. We went to Toys r Us that day to check out our options.

My son is not a good sleeper. He never has been. I tried that “put him to sleep drowsy” nonsense and laughed as the kid screamed the second his back hit mattress. Once he learned how to pull himself up to standing, it was all over. Clearly, the crib wasn’t going to work.

I had fashioned a makeshift floor bed during that time for us to snuggle on when he did wake up and I occasionally left him there to nap during the day while I watched him on the baby monitor. He slept so much better on the floor. It gave him plenty of room to roll. So I bought some body pillows to line the outside and a foam mattress topper to give it some squish, and my little nugget started sleeping, pretty peacefully, on the floor at night. He still wakes once or twice and I have to go snuggle him back to sleep but I’ll take once or twice to every 40 minutes.

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Practical. Affordable.

Back in the car aisle at Toys r Us, we eyed the little wooden bed we had just surreptitiously removed from its display to see how our son did climbing in and out. That wasn’t a problem so much as the quarter-length guardrails that certainly wouldn’t prevent our little roller from landing on the floor several times a night. But we could get another guardrail, right? And put the other side up against the wall? Or we could spend a little more on the wooden car bed that had rails all the way across. OR we could spend too much money on the plastic car bed with the built-in toy chest that could be removed as the boy grew to accommodate a twin-size mattress and wouldn’t that solve several problems?

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Sweeeeet ride– I mean bed, man!

Little guy had abandoned the Frozen jeep for a Ferrari and was making his “Vroooom vrooooom” noises as we debated.

“Maybe we should look at it again?” my husband suggested. “That’s a really good price and maybe we could use it with the second kid?”

What prompted this discussion of toddler beds in the first place, even though we have a fully functioning floor bed, was second baby planning. Although, again, if the kid is happy on the floor bed, then the crib is free and clear for the next occupant. So why are we discussing toddler beds?

“Or maybe we pay a really good price for a piece of furniture that never gets used. Because we have a convertible crib that we could try to get him to sleep in. Or we can let him sleep on the floor for a while because it works and he likes it.”

“Shouldn’t he be sleeping in a bed, though?”

“I don’t know. Does it matter as long as he’s safe and getting enough sleep? I mean, let’s think about this for a second. Who is this whole thing a problem for?”

And isn’t that the question every parent should be asking? Who is this really a problem for? Me? My kid? My spouse? Or all those people telling us how things are supposed to be?

Who is formula feeding a problem for? Who is breastfeeding a problem for? Who is toilet training a problem for? Who the hell is telling me what I’m supposed to be doing and what do they care whether or not it works for my family?

We left the store without a bed and more importantly, without the intention of buying one. Our son slept 7 hours on his floor bed that night before waking and 3 more hours after that once I’d snuggled him back to sleep. So I ask again: Who is this bed thing a problem for? Not for my husband because he doesn’t do night duty. Not for me because if I have to snuggle, I’d rather have the space to do so. And certainly not for my son who has never slept anywhere so well as he does on his floor bed.

This bed thing is only a problem for the voices in our heads that tell how things should be. The voice of our moms and our neighbors and our coworkers who all say THIS is what you HAVE TO DO with children. This is the only way to raise them right. If he doesn’t sleep in a big boy bed now, then he never will.

I call bullshit. On all of it. Let the kid sleep where he sleeps, let the parents make the best decisions for their children, and for God’s sake, let’s all stop insisting that there is only one right way to raise children. It’s not true. It never was. So let’s Let It Goooooo!

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