Category Archives: Jen

Tardy Slip

My patience has reached new heights  this week as my oldest dog recovers from surgery on his ACL, my husband finishes an almost 2 week stretch of being on-call, and regular life refuses to accommodate for that by slowing down.  Here’s how our morning went today.

*To be clear: I provide this for your enjoyment, because I had to laugh even while it was happening.

9:00  Naya is fed. We are mostly dressed.  I am even showered.   It is looking like we’ll make it to our morning activity with plenty of time.
9:01 Pass cat box. Notice a cleaning need.  Take care of it.
9:02 Naya refuses to have her hair combed and put up. I try for about 2 minutes (choices, sprays, songs, acrobatics– you name it) and then give up– leave her in room to finish other tasks telling her to let me know when she’s ready.
9:03 Take Mancho (the identified patient) outside for his potty break on leash– because 1. apparently I need to worry about him hobbling away with three legs in our fenced yard and 2. he refuses to move without it.
9:05 Come in. Fill Kongs.  Naya comes out ready to do hair.
9:06 Wash hands. Hair done. Naya decides to give Kongs to dogs.  Excitedly throws Kong at Mancho in living room (does not hit Mancho).  CHICKEN EVERYWHERE.
9:10 Chicken cleaned off carpet.  (THERE WAS CHICKEN ON MY CARPET)  Put Benny (other, very concerned dog who is not to be trusted without supervision– he cuddles too close) in dog crate.
9:12 Wash hands.  What is that smell?  Clean up cat diarrhea next to cat box. Yes, that’s right.
9:13 CRASH! 
9:13:02 “Uh oh, Mama!”  Naya has pulled down the lamp in her room in order to get the unused collar cone that husband inexplicably thought should be stored there.
9:15 Lamp is cleaned up. (But not before sending a photo text of the devastation to the hubs entitled “This is Why We Don’t Have Nice Things!”) Where is Naya?
9:17 Naya found.  WHY IS BENNY WALKING AROUND THE HOUSE?!?!
9:18 Benny is back in dog crate.
9:19 Naya wipes her nose on my shirt (2 year old molars).
9:23 New shirt selected and donned.
9:24 Coats and shoes on
9:25 Reheat coffee whilst assembling diaper bag, snack, juice, and kid–then leave it to cool, forgotten on kitchen counter as we head out the door.

9:26 Realize Naya has pooped.  Go back in and change diaper.

9:32 On our way to Funshop.  Which started two minutes ago.

So, some days we ponder the big stuff, and some days we just try (often futilely) to leave the house on time without anything stuck to our pants.

-Jen

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C is for Cookie. That’s Good Enough for Me.

It has been a morning.

I should start by explaining that I have had about 2 hours of sleep– which is not anyone’s fault.  Sometimes my mind just conspires against me that way.

So, after a strong dose of coffee, when the fog finally began to lift, I reminded Naya that it was swim lesson morning.  We got excited, talking about kicking, reaching, and playing with friends.  She loves swim.

Then, after a bit more of the caffeinated good stuff, I proceeded to make preparations for this adventure– packing the bag with suit, swim diapers, wet bags, extra diapers, baby wash, baby lotion, snack, sippy cup, the necessities of my own.  I bathed, shaved, and suited up.  Swimming morning definitely takes the most prep work of any of our scheduled programming, but it ’s typically rewarded with the true glee of my water baby.

Thus, this morning when it was time to get Naya ready for the adventure, and she sat, diaperless atop her bed screaming “NO DIAPER! NO SWIMMING!”  I was more than a little exasperated.  I am, however, in the midst of reading Love and Logic, which, though extremely heavy-handed and hyperbolic (think, “Give your toddler limits or he will grow up to be a psychopath!”) has some decent ideas, so I tried not to make a big deal while I explained the situation, expressed disappointment with her choice, and left her to deal with her decision.  Because, in reality, I would rather deal with a child who doesn’t want to swim at home than in the locker room at the Y (By the way, offers to help from sympathetic strangers do not, in fact, make mothers of toddlers who are melting down in the Y locker room feel any better about the situation– or make said toddler any more likely to stop melting down.  Really).

Of course, then she peed on the bed– through comforter, blankets, and sheets.  And, of course, by the time I had stripped the bed, microwaved the dregs from the coffee maker, tuned up some Louis Armstrong on Pandora, and started in on the task of the dishes, her freshly diapered (I have my limits with this whole choices thing when it comes to three extra loads of laundry), very sad self came into the kitchen whimpering, like a skipping record, “Go swimming now?”  And, of course, by this time it was too late to make it to the 35 minute toddler class.  And of course, after the 692nd repetition of her request to do exactly what I wanted to do in the first place and subsequent meltdown when I was unable to comply, I was. . . beyond words.

I mean, seriously.  These are not sanity fostering working conditions.

But, as parents of toddlers know, this is how many a day seem to go.  In their struggle for their new-found independence toddlers melt down– often and with little consistency or predictability.  (And if yours doesn’t, I really, really, really don’t want to hear about it.  Sorry.  Misery doesn’t love a know-it-all.) And still, we need to get through our days.

When I was childless and knew everything, I would see exasperated parents of small children in the middle of a meltdown and think terrible things about how they probably were doing something wrong– not being consistent enough, not providing their child with the attention or rest they needed, whatever.  And, obviously, there are plenty of those cases– if your child is being unruly in the toy store, for example, it’s probably not the time to buy her the toy she’s been coveting, right?– but in general, we’re all just trying to get through our days with our marbles intact.

Case in point:  The store that best suits our grocery shopping needs is a bit of a drive for us.  It typically takes us about 25 minutes to get there.  So, by the time I’ve checked the weekly sales, made my list, collected the grocery bags, packed the diaper bag, wrangled the little darling into the car seat, and pulled into the parking lot, I’m usually about an hour into the adventure, right?  So, then if 10 minutes into the experience my little dear starts screaming, “WANT COOKIE NOW!” am I going to (as my know-everything self of 4 years ago would have suggested) abandon ship, take my ball, and go home?

HECKY NO! We’re going to haul grocery cart over to the bakery department.  Get that girl a cookie!  NOW!

Yes, I know that by doing this I am perpetuating the cycle by reinforcing her cookie seeking behavior– but those dang bakery workers who started her off on the habit by handing her free cookies were the gateway, I tell you!  Pastry pushers!

The fact is, we need groceries.  My time to get them is limited, and unless I decide to do the grocery shopping at 10 p.m. (which I have, indeed, done on occasion for just this reason), it’s going to include my cookie monster kid.  So if we have to check out with 11 (ok, 10. . . or 9) cookies instead of the original 12, and my kid has oatmeal cookie mush all over her face (and hair, and probably ears) by the time we leave the store, I’m going to be ok as long as I don’t have to go back for another week. . . or two.

The fact is, in parenting we plan for perfection and deal with reality. Every day.

The fact is, I might just have to put her in her suit and fill up the bathtub.

-Jen

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Pass the Coffee, Please.

We’re tired here.  We’ve actually been tired for a couple weeks now.

For some reason, we have yet to understand, Naya has been regularly waking up several times in the middle of the night.  And we, unsure of what’s going on, have been answering her calls.

We are not amused.

For the first week or so, we were pretty worried because we were woken up to her crying— and not that “pay attention to me” cry she’s perfected as of late, but the real, “Oh my GOD!  What is wrong with my poor baby?!” kind of cry.

But this week, we’ve graduated to 2 a.m. wake up calls of, “You O.K., Lion?  You O.K., Mama?  You O.K., Elmo?”  And, despite being reminded to go back to sleep, this conversation can maintain itself for a couple hours a night.

So, while this is a definite improvement, I promise you this reads as much more amusing than it actually is. Especially in my thinner-than-paper-walled house.

I should back up a little here.

When I was growing this baby, I had every intention to be the perfect model of attachment parenting.

Then, you know, I had my particular baby and realized that my particular situation didn’t completely allow for all that perfection.

So, when Naya was about 8 months old (I think that’s when– it’s all kind of hazy, really), still waking up every hour  to nurse, and dealing with a mama (and a daddy) who was beyond exhausted, beyond impatient, and always just a little bit sick, we decided enough was enough.

We did it.  We sleep trained our daughter.  I admit it.  We did it and we don’t regret it for a minute.

Does that mean it’s right for your family?  Only you can decide that.  Of course, it’s a beautiful thing to be responsive to your child’s individual needs 24/7.  Of course it is.  For us, however, it was also important that 1. Naya actually get the rest she needed, 2. I stop being an impatient, emotionalbasketcasezombiemother, and 3. my husband and I actually get to spend some time together that wasn’t the two hours every night we spent trying to rock Naya to sleep and keep her that way.

And for us, sleep training accomplished all of those things.

First, being a person who absolutely CANNOT HANDLE hearing my child cry (though, with the onset of this whole 2-year-old attitude, I have to admit I’m becoming far more comfortable with it than I imagined possible), I knew the traditional cry-it-out method was NOT for us.   I bought this book that guaranteed  a no-cry sleep solution.

I spent hours charting our sleeping patterns, coping mechanisms, food intake, etc.

Yea. THAT was a complete waste of time I could have spent sleeping.  (For me. You might find it’s the best thing ever.)

Then, a childhood friend and mother of three suggested The Sleep Lady’s method, promising me more sleep by the end of a week.

Oh you know I was looking into that.

My husband and I spent a good part of a week of vacation poring over the book, discussing it, deciding we would give it our best effort, and planning a start date.

Then, a week or so after our trip, when we had reestablished our normal routine, we did it.

It wasn’t easy.  My husband took the first, worst night of sitting next to Naya’s crib, holding my frustrated daughter’s hand until she fell asleep on her own.  I’ll admit I couldn’t have done that night.

But, by the second night, when it was my turn, things were better.  And, by the fourth night, we were almost rested (if not exactly well-rested).

Around this time, we started noticing Naya reaching developmental benchmarks more rapidly than ever (which, of course, could have been purely coincidental).  She also became (even) more agreeable during the day.

Naps, as The Sleep Lady is the first to point out, were the toughest part in our sleep training program (though, of course, we have yet to approach the “better” situation).  They were, however, conquered, and since then, Naya typically does down for hers after a quick snuggle and song.

Now, our bedtime routine (snack, teeth brushing, pajamas, books, bed) takes about 30 enjoyable (for all of us) minutes.   And, until this month, Naya has slept through the night pretty regularly.

Of course, there have been the occasional setbacks of travel, illness, and the like– and we (if not exactly happily) readily break our sleep routine to accommodate for our baby girl’s comfort.

But this latest one is baffling us.

Better get out the book.

– Jen

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I’m a Baby Gear Junkie.

Seriously.

For me, one of the best parts about having a friend who is expecting (besides, you know, the human being soon to come) is having an opportunity to talk baby gear and to see what’s new since I invested.  (A LOT changes even over the course of two short years!)

My absolute favorite gear to talk about?  Cloth diapers.

“What?!”

No, but seriously.  Cloth diapers absolutely rock my world.

I know if you’re not familiar with the modern world of cloth diapering, the first thing you think of are diaper pins and rubber pants– or worse, big, sloppy pails of soaking poopie diapers.

Think again, my friends!   Cloth diapering has never been easier.  And actually, it takes me less time to cloth diaper than it does to use dishes instead of paper plates.  A LOT less.   Like, probably an average of less than 5 minutes per day.  Total.

The Down and (really not so) Dirty:

We use the pre-fold/ cover system most of the time.   It’s cheaper, and usually works most reliably (Those new-born blowouts are practically non-existent).   It does, however, lack some of the convenience of the all-in-one (AIO) systems for being out-and-about, and their similarity to disposables that so many child-care providers crave.  Still, it’s pretty easy– fold the pre-fold into thirds, set it in the cover, velcro or snap it into place– 1,2,3.

So, Naya goes about her day, I change her soiled diapers, and if it’s a #1 situation, it goes right into my diaper pail, which is lined with a “wet bag” (basically a bag  made of laminated cloth that holds the diapers until you’re ready to wash).  If it’s #2 I dump it in the toilet (Naya shouts, “Bye bye, Poopie!”), then throw it in the wet bag.

And now you’re thinking, “What about the messy ones? Do you really have to rinse them in the toilet?”

Well, yes– but that happens about once every two weeks in our house– and, if you’re really squeemish, they make things called diaper sprayers that hook up (quite easily, I’m told) to the water supply of your toilet.  But, even the rinsing takes, say, 20 seconds.  And, when they’re really small, if you’re breast feeding, you don’t have to rinse the poop at all.  For some reason, it just magically disappears in the wash.  Breast milk is magic, but that’s a story for another post.

Since we’re going to be washing anyway, we even use cloth wipes–basically tiny washcloths we spray with water, use, and toss right into the bag.  And before you get all, “You only clean her off with WATER?!” on me, remember that you probably don’t even use that when you do your business.  So there.  But, if you’re going to be like that, some people add a drop of baby wash to their water bottle, or buy special spray for it, or even prepare their own formula that involves some kind of cooking (I know, right?).  I don’t personally think it needs to be that complicated.  Water works fine.

So anyway, you get a bunch of dirty diapers– for us, this happens about once every 3-4 days now (when she was younger, it used to happen about every-other day).  You take the bag out of the diaper pail, turn it inside out into the washer (so you don’t even have to touch the diapers), throw the bag in with it, and VOILA! You’re washing your diapers!

Cold rinse.  Double wash with the teeniest bit of detergent.  Cold rinse.

Line dry the covers.  Machine or line dry the pre-folds.

I think it’s probably at least as pleasant as emptying one of those magic-hide-the-diaper contraptions.

And, yes, it helps that I’m a stay-at-home-mom, but anyone who knows me knows I’m no Donna Reed when it comes to matters of the home.

And, yes, it helps that my laundry room is right next to the kitchen, but in our old house, when I had to truck downstairs to use our traditional washer/dryer combo (now we have the HE models I coveted for so long– consolation prize for moving away from my friends and family), I often set Naya on top of the basket of fluffy, clean diapers and towed us all back upstairs.  I think she liked it.

And no, we aren’t fanatical about it (which is probably why I love it so much).  Sometimes,  if we’re out and about, or we have a sitter who’s not comfortable with them, or we’re on vacation, we use disposable.

All in all, it’s probably saved us about a thousand dollars– more, if you count the fact that one of my Besties borrowed Naya’s first set of diapers for her son.  (We have two sets– one for the first 6 months, and one that will take her to potty training.)

Easy peasy.

And it’s one of the parenting decisions that both my husband and I feel really, really good about.

What are some of the parenting decisions that you’re really proud of?

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I’m Not on the SAHM Tenure Track.

“I think I really would like to try staying home with the baby when it’s born.”  I told my husband a couple of weeks after we found out we were expecting.  “I mean, I can always change my mind, right?”  And, true to his generally agreeable nature, my husband concurred.

I had my daughter at  precisely the right time so that, as I finished up each of my students’ cumulative folders to hand off to the sub who would complete the remainder of the school year, I was experiencing contractions.   Two months later, I officially resigned from the  district for which I had been teaching since graduating from college, packed up my little car with my two dogs and tiny daughter, and moved across state lines in order for my husband to begin a new stage in his career.   We came here full of ideas about how it was all going to go.

Then, we woke up for the first time in our new home, my husband left for work, and my parents — who had helped us move– packed up and headed home.

And there we were.  My two-month-old daughter and I.   Alone.

No tv.  No internet.  A mountain of boxes in a rented house outside of town.

Oh, and did I mention a whole universe of exhaustion, hormones, and internal chaos?  Those were definitely there with us in those first weeks— who am I kidding? months.

_______________________________________________________________________________

About five months from now, my little family will once again be packing up and moving across many state lines to transplant ourselves, our pets, and all our stuff into another town.  It’s an exciting (and daunting!) prospect for which we have been planning since, it seems, the beginning of time.

A lot will change when we make the move.  My husband will be taking on a position that offers considerably more family-friendly hours (which, as I told a family member in a recent email, would probably be enough in and of itself for me to get excited about relocating to Antarctica), and a raise in pay.   As it happens, however, the town in which we will find ourselves appears to offer a lot of opportunities for me to reestablish a career outside the home, as well as to explore personal interests that do not necessarily involve my daughter.

I. Am. So. Ridiculously. Excited.

Please know that I absolutely understand that the last two years of my life– staying home with my amazing daughter, meeting other fabulous mamas, and learning how to enjoy a much smaller existence has been an incredible privilege.   I really, really do.  And, although I have really struggled (fought epic battles??) with the transitions it required of me, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

There have been real benefits to staying home (besides living in PJs).  Breastfeeding was certainly easier because I didn’t have to try to negotiate a working pump schedule.  My daughter got to reach developmental milestones at her own rate, instead of having things like nap and meal times dictated by her childcare provider.  My husband’s sometimes ridiculously unpredictable hours were much easier for me to absorb than they would be for any child-care center of which I am aware.   We never had to deal with the anxiety of whether or not to send our kind-of-sick child to daycare or to take the day off to keep her home.  On mornings she needed extra time or cuddling, we could choose to stay home instead of dealing with the stress that can be packing up the under–two set.  In short, it made life easier in a lot of ways.

On the other hand, there have been a lot of sacrifices related to staying home.  A LOT of sacrifices.

Going from two moderate incomes supporting two people to one moderate income supporting three people (and two large dogs and a geriatric cat) has not been without strain.  Because of our financial situation and my husband’s work obligations, there have been times when I have been in the continuous presence of my daughter for, quite literally, months at a time without the respite of so much as a solo trip to the grocery store.  My amazing doctor actually performed my last (complete) physical one-handed whilst holding my infant daughter on one hip.  No. Lie. When my sister, who was in the throws of her last semesters of graduate school, complained to me of her stressful course load, instead of being a sympathetic listener, I was waxing reminiscent about my own experience in my masters program– and missing the challenge and camaraderie that comes from a shared experience with other adults.

And honestly, in those first months, when people would tell me how lucky I was, or how much they wished that THEY could be in the situation where they could stay home with their child, I wanted to disappear (or scream or throw things, depending on the day)– because obviously, there was something wrong with me if I wasn’t appreciating this opportunity.  Obviously, I missed the mama gene somewhere.  But, by that point, I realized that my husband’s work schedule simply was not conducive to 1. job interviews, or 2. sharing child-care responsibilities were I to actually land a job, so the escape route we had discussed before Naya came along wasn’t really the option we thought it was.  And, because of this, it really was a better thing that there be a stay at home parent in her life.

It’s gotten easier and infinitely more fun as we’ve gone along, to be sure.  I have connected to a lot of great people and resources in my community.  My husband and I have become (so much) better at sharing parenting duties and taking advantage of the time he isn’t working.  Naya just keeps getting more amazing, interesting, and fun to be with every minute.  I just don’t know a cooler human being than her.

But, as our full-time work together comes to an end, I know this is the right move for both Naya and I.  She is hungry for more stimulation than my limited creativity can muster, and is at an age where social interaction is both wanted and needed.  And, knowing this makes the transition easier for me, assuaging the crazy guilt that comes with wanting more.  And I know this isn’t the same for every parent.

There are some parents who know they could never be stay at home parents and some parents who wish desperately that they had the opportunity.  I believe that every one of them has personally told me their take on the situation too.

“I would love to stay home with the kids, but if I did we wouldn’t be able to eat.”

“I am a better mom because I work.”

“I can’t imagine leaving my babies with someone else.”

And you know what?  None of them are wrong.  I swear they’re not.  But, at the same time, it’s so easy to idealize the other side of the coin.

What I can say about the whole situation, from my own limited perspective, is this:  Staying at home is hard freaking work.  And you know what?  I know how to work.  I once taught classes of 38 middle school kids at a time in an urban public school system– and did more than crowd control, mind you– and this is harder.  I once worked third shift at a factory in which coming home with random oozing chemical burns was not uncommon— and this is harder.  I .  .  .well, you get the idea.  I’m not a stranger to work, and this is it.  Is it also wonderful, amazing, insanely rewarding?  You bet.  Do I love the heck out of it?  Every day. . .well, almost every day.

I hope I’m not idealizing the working mom’s plight either.  I know that balancing child-care; my relationship with my husband, friends, family, and self; household needs; and life in general is not going to get easier because I add more to my plate.  I do realize that being a working mama is fraught with equally great dilemmas.  I get it (or, at least I think I do).

Last month, my wonderful husband used one of his rare weekends off to stay home with Naya while I took a trip out of state to visit friends with a new baby (my godson!).  ( Yes,  I used my first child-free weekend ever to visit another child.)  During the first night of my stay, the new parents were shooed out of the house to enjoy a baby-free and much needed date.  And, as my beautiful godson settled easily into my arms to be rocked to sleep, I came to the conclusion that I am MADE for this mama business, and always have been.   And my desire or need for an occupation outside of that has nothing to do with not possessing the mama gene.  It has to do with all the other parts of my person that also need to be honored.

Perhaps it would be different if we had stayed in the community in which I lived and worked for several years before getting married, buying a house, and deciding to have our daughter.  Perhaps, if I had long-time friends and family nearby to remind me of who I was before I had my daughter, and a support system upon which to rely when I needed to nourish those sides of myself, I wouldn’t need this so much, but that’s not the case here, and most likely won’t be the case there.  And that’s ok.

I have already started researching pre-school situations for Naya for this fall–ones that offer lots of undirected play time, nourishing vegetarian meals, and time outdoors.  Naya has a backpack that she has started carrying around with her when we pretend to go to school, and I’m sure she’s going to like taking it with her to pre-school.

I anticipate that the first days I drop her off will probably be ridiculously painful for me, and might be a difficult transition for Naya, but I also watched her this weekend with a toddler whose family was spending the weekend as our house guests, and the absolute bliss she was in chasing the other little one around the house, so I know it will be short-lived (at least for her).

And, when I pick her up, according to the wisdom of Mr. Rogers, she’ll have things she wants to talk about, and I will too.

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The One-Up-You-Mama

In case I haven’t completely spelled it out, I’m a stay at home mama with a husband who works copious hours, recently transplanted in a town without family, and on a limited budget.  Needless to say, my opportunities for purely adult interaction are rather limited at this point in my life.  Thus, any occasion of this nature is a fabulous treat.

At one such event recently, I met a woman who, for all intents and purposes, could be my newest best friend.   At least in our brief meeting, we seemed to have similar political leanings, senses of humor, tastes in music and movies– you know, all the important stuff.

Then we started talking about our kids.

And really, I’m sure we probably espouse  many of the same values as far as our “parenting philosophies” are concerned.

However, it’s got to be said, she was a one-up-you-mama.  When I talked about feeding my daughter frozen blueberries, she had to point out that her children only got fresh foods.  When I talked about my daughter’s love of all things Elmo,  several minutes later, it had to be squeezed in that they don’t own a television.  You know this person.  She’s everywhere.

Sometimes, she’s even me.

The One-Up-You-Mama.

So what’s this about?  Because really, really, I know that it doesn’t matter whether my kid gets organic frozen blueberries or fresh (not organic, I’m sure!) blueberries in the middle of winter.   Not for anyone (besides generations of people benefiting from my morally superior, ecologically minded choices, of course!).  So what’s with this competition?  What’s going on with a mama’s constant need to validate her choices by demeaning the choices of others?

I mean, we’re all pretty reasonable people, really.  Right?

I would love to hear your take on the situation.

Here’s one of mine:

Parenting is the hardest, most confusing task that ever existed.  There are almost NO clearly “right” answers, and even a lot of the “wrong” answers are. . . probably not so bad  (I recently got in an online discussion with a child-free friend about how letting your toddler drink Mt. Dew– though not a sound nutritional decision– probably is not grounds for declaring a parent unfit).  And, because every child we know has a different personal schedule and personality, we can’t really measure ours against anyone’s to see if we’re successful (though, believe me, the temptation is always there!), so we grasp, desperately, at anything we can– even when we know it’s ridiculous.   We create crazy benchmarks of success–

“My child has only ever slept in his crib.”

“My child has only ever slept in the family bed.”

“My child has never had formula.”

“My child has never had any screen time, ever.”

“My child has never had a babysitter who is not family.”

“My child was potty trained before his first birthday.”

And, while those all might be great things for particular children in particular circumstances, they are not necessarily predictors of Nobel Laureates.  They’re just not.   We’re all just doing the best we can without any perfect algorithm that equals a well-adjusted, productive adult.

When I was a classroom teacher, I would get so angry at the parents who were just not towing the line.  I would think, and say to other teachers, that there’s not a whole lot to being a successful parent.  “You do the laundry, you pay the bills, you put the cereal in the same place every day, and you ask them how their day at school was, right?”  And wow, I was arrogant (and obviously childless at the time!) in my oversimplification of the situation, to be sure.

But maybe, just maybe it’s that simplicity that we’re missing.  Maybe being a good parent isn’t being perfect, but rather showing up to the job every day and putting in a good effort, and if that’s the case, what is all this one-upping about anyway?

What do you think?

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Suck on This

My daughter is 19 months old and still uses a pacifier.

This, I have become aware, is a highly controversial situation secondary only to the socialization of our health care system.

We really weren’t going to use a pacifier.  Until, of course (like so many things we weren’t going to do), we had a baby.  We realized, that first day in the hospital (or, at least I think it was the first day, it’s hard to sort through the haze of physical and emotional exhaustion/trauma/happiness/confusion that was that time), that we were spending a ridiculous amount of time with one of our fingers in Naya’s mouth to soothe her, and thus, relented when a seasoned nurse offered us a pacifier.

And no, it didn’t lead to nipple confusion or compromise our breast feeding relationship.  She went strong until she self weaned at 18 months, which is fodder for another entry (or 20), I am sure.

And no, it hasn’t delayed her speech development.  The kid talks all the time.  All. The. Time.

And yeah, there have definitely been people who make an issue of it– however (un)subtly.  Taking it out of her mouth, or making comments like, “She doesn’t want that, she wants the real thing.”  (I realize that some women really will nurse their kids for hours on end to provide this kind of nurturing comfort, and I salute them.  That, however, is not on my personal itinerary.)

For the most part, it has been something she’s only wanted when sleeping, spending time in her car seat, or feeling sick.   Thus, it has become a mostly private thing, and one with which my husband and I haven’t been all that concerned.  We figured that, like most developmental things have so far with Naya, it would work itself out.   Sure, we won’t mind giving up the foraging for “suckers” under the crib each night before bedtime, making sure we have a spare in our pocket before we leave the house, and the obligatory midnight trek to the baby’s room to replace the one she’s dropped in her sleep, but as a whole, it’s really not that big of a deal.

It’s really not that big of a deal.

Naya’s most recent bought of teething (4 at the same time!) has spurred new enthusiasm for her suckers, however, and she now brandishes them wherever she goes.

This, of course, leads to a lot more (very) public scrutiny.

Last week, the woman at the Y nursery tried to take it out of her mouth the minute I handed her over to them.  “You don’t need this, do you?”

Yeah, actually. The screaming when you take it out of her mouth would probably indicate that it’s an issue for her.

Last week another mama helpfully volunteered the information that their pediatrician recommended she take away her child’s pacifier after the first birthday.

Yeah, our pediatrician really hasn’t made a big deal about it, but thanks.

So of course, being the consummate worrier, I have been thinking about this constantly, and mentioning it to my husband.  We weigh the pros and cons.  We know we don’t want her going off to kindergarten with it, but at the same time, it sure is convenient that she has something so simple to comfort her, and it has proved invaluable on our relatively frequent travels by plane for keeping ear pressure in check.  So, we tentatively agreed to table the discussion until she’s at least 2.  We won’t offer it, but we won’t refuse it either.  In the meantime, there’s a very good chance that (like so many things) she will work it out for herself.

But, of course I’m still going to worry.  It’s what I do, right?

Then, on Friday, she started asking for “Beherrrr.”   I figured out that “Beherrrr” was her pacifier, but couldn’t figure out what the association was for days.  Every time she asked for her pacifier, it was, “Beherrrr?”

Then on Sunday morning, during a particularly fragile time of tears (about what, I can no longer recall), it all came together when I placed the beloved pacifier in her mouth.

“Thas Beherrr.”  she said as she instantly stopped crying.

THAT’S BETTER.   Her pacifier is her better.

So yeah, the pacifier stays, and all you naysayers can suck it.

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