The Roller Coaster of Being a Woman

Women: You know when you’re PMSing but you haven’t realized it yet and your moods are going up and down and you’re crying because it’s raining and you feel that you may as well lay down and die because your life sucks so bad because you just stubbed the same toe for the second time in one day?

Moms: You know when you’re pregnant and this is pretty much just a way of life for 9 months and then right after you have the baby you turn into a crazy person who is so hormonal and over-tired that you’re crying over your dinner plate and you have no idea why?

Does this end at some point?
Ok I’m not crying and it isn’t raining and I’m far away from those postpartum “Night Time Crazies” as Hubby and I so affectionally called them. But I do feel really emotional and easily irritated. I feel I can owe this lovely bouquet of feelings to three things:

1. I really am PMSing (oh, but to any men who are reading this, if you EVER use terms like, “I think you’re just PMSing right now” or “Don’t you think you’re being a little bit hormonal?” we WILL castrate you. With a butter knife. Thankfully I have married a man who would never in his wildest dreams even think of saying something like that even when we both know it’s completely true, but I trust that not all men are so smart).

2. I have to go back to work soon. Very soon.

3. As implied in my previous post, Hubby is being sent away. Again. For a month. At the exact same time that I have to go back to work.

So this trifecta of awesomeness has led me to become the type of woman who gets annoyed when Hubby tells me he’ll be home 15 minutes later than normal and who feels sad and sappy at Monkey’s bath time every night thinking about how this is just one more bath time closer to having to leave him three days a week and how soon bath time will be one of the only moments I’ll get with him on those days.

This may be a huge stereotype, but I think this is kind of a woman thing. I feel like men wouldn’t put that much thought into bath times and what they mean and all that hoo-ha, and they certainly wouldn’t care about being 15 minutes late. But I’m not a man (obviously) so I don’t think this way. Don’t get me wrong, I know some men would get all sappy at the mere sight of baby wash and women who wouldn’t give it a second thought, but it’s just my general opinion on the matter. And this is my blog so if you don’t agree with me, well that’s just too bad. If you feel strongly enough on the matter then start your own blog and disagree there.

But I digress.
What was I saying?
Oh yes, emotional roller coaster.
So basically I have to go back to work soon. Like, last week kind of soon. I don’t want to. This is not a secret but hubby and I have agreed that although we COULD swing it if I didn’t go back to work, things would be tougher. And I want to be able to order things from www.babysteals.com without having to also sacrifice meals throughout the week. I want to be able to take Monkey to Disney World when he’s older. I want to be able to take him to Ontario and Newfoundland to see his family more than once in a blue moon (I’ve heard those are rare). I want to be able to buy him lots of books from the book clubs when he’s in school. I want to buy him a computer when he’s older. I want to buy him a Newfoundland dog named Otis who can pull him on a beautiful sleigh made of bamboo and laden with organic cotton blankets to keep him warm. And I know we won’t be able to do these things if I stay home.

Sigh.
Is it this hard for everyone? There is a large part of me that feels kind of mad at Hubby’s other wife, Mrs. Military, because I rather think that if I knew Hubby would be home every single night to help with dinner and feeding the four Fur Babies and taking out the garbage and cleaning and laundry and checking the mail and paying the bills then I could be a teensy bit more relaxed about this. But not only is this so NOT the case but I get to experience all this single handedly right off the bat. I guess I’m diving in head first. With my arms tied behind my back. And bricks tied to my ankles.

But hey, we all do it, right? So I guess I just need to bite the bullet and do it. Get my butt in gear and get back to work. I’ve heard it’s not so bad when you get into it…so I will.

Eventually.

But for now I’m going to try to enjoy every moment and not think of it as the “last this” or the “last that”. But I might still be annoyed if Hubby comes home 18 1/2 minutes late from work. And I might still cry if it rains. And dammit! It HURTS when you stub your toe so I’ll be mad about that, too, if I want to!

There.
I’m done.
The end.

Mel.

A letter to the Minister of National Defence – Love, Mel

Dear Mr. MacKay (Minister of National Defence),

I am writing to you today with a little suggestion that I think might make a vast difference in the Canadian Military. By taking my suggestion you will more than likely find that your soldiers are much happier and therefore easier to work with and more productive. It goes without saying that in today’s age of budget cut-backs this would be monumentally helpful.

I suggest that at each military base across Canada you hire an official Wives’ Interests and Family Excellence Officer (WIFE-O). The job of this WIFE-O would be a difficult and multi-faceted one, obviously first serving the best interests of the wives and families of your military members. Being a military spouse is no easy task, however I firmly believe that an official WIFE-O would make it much easier.

Here is a brief job description of the WIFE-O:

1. To give the wives a sense that there is someone looking out for THEIR interests.

2. To offer assistance to wives when settling into a new posting (Don’t get me wrong, the MFRC (Military Family Resource Centre) is a wonderful and much needed resource. However the WIFE-O would offer information that the MFRC cannot, such as the best liquor stores in town and the rental of trashy movies and books to wives of deployed CF members).

3. To offer incentives to wives of deployed members. These incentives may include but are not limited to:
– automatic weekly flower deliveries while husbands are away or working an intense period of overtime
– automatic pizza delivery on Friday nights
– automatic wine deliveries daily
– maid service. All the time.
– extra funds provided for Retail Therapy
– snow removal in winter*
– grass mowing in summer*
– car repairs when necessary*
– general home maintenance when necessary*

(Note: incentives with an asterisk (*) are best provided by an insanely sexy, well-toned man)

Mr. MacKay, you may be wondering why such a position is truly necessary. After all, wives have been following their husbands around from posting to posting for years without such a person, so why now? Well to be honest, it’s most likely that no one has thought of it before. But here is why you should not delay in the creation of this new position:

When a wife learns that her husband is being sent away again, she gets cranky. Really, really cranky. If recent news is correct you have just become a married man yourself (congratulations!) so I am sure you have already figured this out. Why do we get so cranky? Well it often feels that we are expected to follow our husbands around the country like pretty little puppies. We move to towns far from everyone and everything we know and care about. We lose our jobs. We single parent and single home-manage without a second thought given to us. We often hear and quickly hate the phrase, “You knew what you were getting into!” when we try to explain our feelings and frustrations. We quickly become adjusted to being our husbands’ second wives but never like it any better. Schedules are changed at the last minute throwing our plans which were dodgy at best right out the window. In short, no one really seems to give a poop about us. We get a little nod at social events every now and then, and heck, I even received a set of wine glasses from one posting (and let me tell you, that almost made it all worth while). So yes, at the words, “Honey, I’m going away again”, the wives get cranky. And when the wife gets cranky, life probably isn’t so great for her husband. This negativity is then carried through into his job and results in a downward spiral of bad morale in the workforce which then spreads like an infectious disease to the rest of the members and then leads to low productivity in the entire unit. Your troops become negative, cynical and depressed. Obviously these are not the qualities we aim to see.

As previously mentioned, appointing a WIFE-O to serve at each base in Canada will greatly help diminish these problems. To feel as though there is someone that cares about us, that has at least considered us when our husbands are away, would make all the difference.

Please feel free to contact me at your convenience to discuss this matter further. Oh, and in addition, I volunteer to be the first hired, so there is no need to worry about that.

Thank you and I look forward to your call.
Sincerely,
Mel

P.S. If, after very careful consideration, you come to the conclusion that the hiring of a WIFE-O is not immediately possible, there is one other option: Give us a break and let us keep our husbands home for once. Please.

Those Crazy Newfies

Newfies are a punch line. Right? They aren’t real, intelligent people. They’re just silly East Coast Canadians that talk funny and are the butt of a million different jokes.

Right?
If this is your honest opinion than I have to ask: do you actually know any “Newfies”? Have you spent time with anyone from that province? Have you *gasp* ever actually BEEN to Newfoundland? 
I did the unspeakable. I did what anyone from central or western Canada thinks of as a clear sign of insanity.
I married a Newfoundlander.
Hubby and I met online where his screen name was “Romantic Newfie” so I wasn’t exactly going into this blind. I met a wonderful, funny, intelligent, handsome man who quickly stole my heart.
And then I met his family. The first person I met from Hubby’s family was Nan P. It was the middle of the night and we were stopping in to spend the night at her house since it was in between St. John’s and Hubby’s Home Town so it meant we didn’t have to do the whole drive in one shot. We pulled into the driveway around 2am, and she was there at the door in her nightgown, her right arm holding open the door and her left arm enveloping me in a hug before I was even in the house, “Come in, my ducky!”. That image of Nan in her nightgown in the middle of the dark, summer’s night, holding the door open for us will not soon leave my mind. It pretty much summarizes what I think of as “the Newfie way”.
In case you’ve never spent any time in small-town Newfoundland, here’s how it may differ from what you know:
Newfoundland: Everyone is welcome, any time all the time. Even if you’re not we’ll pretend                you are 🙂  What’s a doorbell? Come on in!
Everywhere else: Please call ahead, my schedule might be full. If we don’t really like you then don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!
Newfoundland: Takes two hours to pick up milk and cheese because the store is 40 minutes away and because you know every person in there.
Everywhere else: Takes two minutes to pick up milk because there are three stores on every corner and you didn’t speak to a soul in there.
Newfoundland: At Christmas you must visit with all of your friends twice: once at your house and once at their house. Plans are made between a week and 20 minutes in advance.
Everywhere else: At Christmas you may or may not see all of your friends at all depending on how quickly everyone’s schedules fill up. Plans must be made by August. The year before.
Newfoundland: Strangers call you “my love”, “my darling”, “my ducky”, “my dolly” and ” ‘by”.
Everywhere else: Strangers don’t really speak to you at all, and if they call you “‘ by” it is spelled differently and means something else altogether.
I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, I get it. Newfoundlanders are friendly. Move on.”
But it’s more than that. Before ever coming here all I really knew was that Newfies were the butt of a good many jokes and certainly not the type of people you would model yourself after. After six and a half years of visiting this province I am singing a vastly different tune.
The people I have met here are kind. They are open and funny and welcoming and honest. But do you know what strikes me the most? They are proud, fiercely proud to be called a Newfoundlander. They are proud of their homes and their families and their province and their flag. (How many times have I seen an Ontario flag outside someone’s home? Um….twice?). Everything made in Newfoundland is better than anything made anywhere else. The wind is stronger, the air is fresher, the soil more fertile (and they would say the men are, too!). The winters are worse and their springs are better than anywhere in the world. I think my mother-in-law might say even a Newfoundland peanut butter sandwich is better than one made anywhere else, just because it’s made here in Newfoundland by a Newfoundlander.
Maybe that all sounds silly. Maybe. But I don’t think so. I think if we were all able to be that proud, that passionate, that caring about our own provinces and hometowns that that couldn’t be a bad thing. Could it?
Oh, and there are a few things that I now feel licensed to clarify:
First and foremost, it is NOT pronounced NewFOUNDland. It is NewfoundLAND, which, as my father-in-law would tell you, rhymes with underSTAND. Get it right, people!
Screech is a rum, not just a really loud sound. If you come here you must be “Screeched In” to become an honorary Newfie. This experience might be one of the most fun times you will ever have (just ask all our wedding guests who partook in this experience the night before our wedding!).
Finally, people from Newfoundland sometimes speak differently than you might. They have different turns of speech and I would say they have an accent (which, by the way, differs according to where in the province they’re from). It’s a dialect and they are as entitled to speak that way as you are to speak the way you do. It doesn’t make them less intelligent although often it does make them completely incomprehensible.
So anyway, that’s just my two cents. Which are better than your two cents because I’m offering them while I’m here in Newfoundland.
So long may your big jib draw!
🙂 Mel
               

On Monkey Turning One…

11:59….
12:00.

I turned my gaze from the clock back down to the baby nestled in the crook of my arms. Eyes closed, arms heavy, mouth slightly open, and a tiny bead of milk, still warm, on his chin. My heart swelled, I sighed, and felt the tears burning my eyes.

I will not cry.

At a time in the night that I am often more than a little annoyed to be the only person in my family awake, I felt blessed that I saw this precise moment. It was a gift that I had been given that no one else could ever, ever have. My moment alone to savour and reflect.

I will not cry.

What was so momentous about this exact minute? This turning of the clock from one day to the next? Midnight marked the beginning of December 28, 2011. My first baby’s first birthday. My teeny, tiny little nugget, born at just 6 lbs, 1 oz, was now a 21 lbs giggling, crawling, babbling, mischief-making, 1 year-old cherub.

What has taken place over the past 365 days? How has my life changed? How has our family changed?

The tears began to flow. I made no effort to stop them.

Any mother – no, any parent can tell you what a difference a year makes, how much happens in that first year of life. Not just the growing and developing that your baby does but also how you as parents grow. How the first few days of being a parent feels like a surreal, out of body experience. How the first four months are somewhat awkward and filled with days of running the gamut: play mat, tummy time, nursing, napping, repeat. How those months feel like you will never have a schedule ever again, never eat without a baby attached to your boob (ok, just the mothers will attest to that), never sleep for more than two hours at a time.
Small movements, nearly invisible to the untrained eye, are celebrated with applause and in marching band style: “He lifted his head 2 1/2 millimetres off the floor – did you see that?!”; “He followed the cat with his eyes!”; “He smiled! He smiled! Even if it was because he farted, still, he smiled!”.

Then, before you know it, things have changed. Nursing sessions are few and farther between; he’s rolling over first one way then the other; he holds his own weight on his legs with your help. Faster than you thought possible you’re packing away his clothes and bringing out the next size and before you know it the little sleepers that once looked huge are now tiny compared to the ones you just washed and put away. Rattles that wrap around his wrist are put away in exchange for little shakers. The play mat is packed away. Plugs must be covered. First the bottom shelves of your end tables must be cleared off, then the middle shelves, and now the tops are bare to avoid tiny hands grabbing and breaking things as you watch your toddler cruise along all the furniture. “He let go of the couch and stood for 3 seconds! Did you see?”; “Where did he go?! He crawls so fast!”; “I heard him say, “more”, did you?”

It all changes so fast, but the funny thing is you never see it changing, really, until you look back at where you’ve come from. He never looks big to me. It’s only when I look at pictures from months past that I see how small he was then and how big he is now. It’s only when I hold up a onesie that he just had on a few weeks ago and compare it to the one he just spilled spaghetti on. Time just slips away. My maternity leave is up and I must soon return to work. My baby, my pal, my 24-7 best friend, will have to be looked after and “mothered” by someone else while I go back to work and look after other people’s babies. Thankfully we have found what appears to be the Mother of All Day Care ladies, Mrs.E, and that takes the sting out of the bite. But still.

Part of me is mourning the loss of my baby. I know that sounds dramatic and thank God or my lucky stars or the Guy in the Sky or luck or fate or whatever you want to believe in that he has been such a healthy little guy. But that little baby who was so dependent on me for every little thing is gone. My son is still here of course, in front of me, grinning up at me with all 10 1/2 of his teeth, but he’s a different child now. I love him more now than I did a year ago, although when I first looked into his tiny blue eyes I thought I could never love him more. And I know that tomorrow I will love him more than today. But my teeny, tiny little Monkey is growing up, and while I am thrilled to watch him grow and change and learn new things every day, it’s also hard to let that little baby go. A friend of mine, Miss H, articulated it perfectly when she said that she supposes that’s why so many couples decide to start trying for their next child when their first baby turns one, because as hard as it all was I can’t wait to do it all over again.

But I will. Wait, that is. At least a year or two, for those of you who are wondering. So for the time being I will continue to marvel at the precious creature I see before me. I will appreciate the moments I have with him and try not to dwell on those he shares with Mrs. E while I’m not there. I will treasure his hugs and open mouthed kisses. I will kiss his little head when we snuggle in the night. I will cherish the midnights we spend together.

I love him now more than I ever have and tomorrow I will love him more again.
After all, he doesn’t need to be a baby to be my baby.

Mel.

Sleep Saga: An Update…

It’s been over a week since I posted about the new chapter in our sleep saga and I thought some of you might be interested in how we’re coming along.

In a word: IN-FREAKIN-CREDIBLE.
That’s a word. It so is.

Night time sleep has become a dream (ha, ha). Let’s remember what our evenings and nights looked like two weeks ago:

7:00 Book, bottle, lullaby. Rock/snuggle Monkey to sleep. Lay him in crib. Cross fingers he didn’t wake on the way down and sneak out of the room. Repeat if he awoke before I got to the door.
7:30 Usually woke up for no particular reason. Rock/snuggle, lay, pray, tiptoe.
9:00 Wake –> Rock/snuggle, lay, pray, tiptoe.
10:00 Wake –> Offer bottle, Rock/snuggle, lay, pray, tiptoe.
11:00, 12:30, 1:30, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 Wake –? Rock/snuggle, lay, pray, tiptoe OR bring into bed when we would usually wake up just as often but replace rock/snuggle, lay, pray, tiptoe with roll, boob in mouth.
5:30-6:30 Start our day

*Yawn*

Now let’s take a peek at our current evening and nights:
7:00 Book, bottle, lullaby. Snuggle during lullaby and lay Monkey in his crib when his eyes are heavy. Leave the room (tiptoeing unnecessary since he’s awake). Monkey cries for 0 – 5 minutes maximum then falls asleep on his own.
10:00 Wake –> goes back to sleep on his own in 2 minutes or less.
3:00 Wake –> goes back to sleep on his own in 2 minutes or less.
4:30 Wake –> Still has difficulty with this one. Usually cries until 5 regardless of how often I visit or don’t visit.
5:00 Wake –> Bring him into bed. Snuggle soundly.
7:00-7:45 Start our day

Can you say HELL TO THE YEAH!

I still do NOT regret not doing this sooner. I am still very proud that we tried everything else first. It’s only been a week but already it seems like a while ago that we were dealing with all of those wake ups. And Monkey is much more pleasant over all – more independent during the day, in a better mood, more talkative, less clingy.

We are still dealing with naps: unfortunately the Ferber Method isn’t really working its magic quite the same way there. He has put himself to sleep for 3 naps in the last week: two of which he cried for 15 minutes, one he cried for 40 minutes and all three of which he still only slept for 30 minutes. Now call me a softy but I just don’t see the point in having my child cry for longer than he’s asleep. The other naps in the past week have been in strollers or carseats (or airplanes) or I have put him to sleep myself because otherwise it just wasn’t working. I tried several different times the other day to get him to sleep with the same methods we’ve been using at night and the poor little kiddo just sat in his crib and cried and cried to break his heart. Apparently day sleep and night sleep are organized by different parts of the brain and do not necessarily respond to the same techniques. So we’ll find what works there, but in the mean time I am just thrilled to feel like an ordinary person in the evening and night and not someone tied to the baby monitor.

I guess now that I’m not bounding up an entire set or two of stairs every 30-90 minutes I’ll have to find a new form of exercise though, eh?
I think I’ll survive.

Hell. Yes. I am rested.

Mel 🙂

7:00

A Lesson Learned…

Okay, so maybe I was wrong. (Yes, men, sometimes women do admit these things. Ask Hubby, I do readily admit when I’m wrong. The fact that it simply doesn’t happen very often isn’t my fault.)

No, let me amend that. As a mother, I am learning. I am learning new things about being a parent and I am learning new things about Monkey every single day. Yesterday I learned two things:
1. There will be times when your child is sick and it is a little scary. It is scarier when he has developed an all-over rash with small blisters that two doctors and a pharmacist cannot identify.
2. Sometimes you need to take a risk. Because every so often it will pay off.

Here’s what I mean:

I was (note the past tense!) so tired of being tired. Just when Hubby and I had accepted our crappy sleep situation with relatively open arms (ok, they were bent at the elbow, I’ll admit), things got worse. And worse. And worse. I was okay with having Monkey start the night in his crib then move into our room somewhere between midnight and two to snuggle and co-sleep the rest of the night. But two nights ago I hit my breaking point when he was in bed with me at 8:50 (WHAT?!) and we tossed and turned together until starting our day dark and early at 5:50am. During one of our night wakings where I was patting his little bum with increasing frustration and increasing pressure, I wondered what the hell I was doing. I was so sure that I couldn’t let him “cry it out” to get to sleep. Positive that that was a wrong move for him and for us. Certain it wouldn’t work. But how was this better? How was I doing any of us a favour by having him wake so often in the night? Were those little spurts of crying 10 times a night any better than just letting him get it all out at the start of the night? I didn’t know. I still don’t. I probably never will because obviously he can’t tell me. Hubby hasn’t spent many nights at home since the end of the summer so this night waking thing is all on me.

I was dead set against cry it out (again, note the past tense). I have talked to a million people about it who all say the same thing, “It will work”. I never doubted that, to be honest, I just didn’t want to do it. To picture his tiny face all screwed up with big tears rolling down his soft, pink cheeks, was more than I could handle. It made me feel guilty.

Then two things happened (I’m going to list them because I like lists):
1. I read some things online (again. I’m addicted. There are worse vices.) One of them hit home: “Doing what’s right for your child doesn’t always mean doing what makes him happy”. Hm. Damn. That’s a good point.
2. I talked to Aunt S, my best friend’s Mom. In yet another discussion about Monkey’s sleep I casually said, “Everyone has told me to let him cry it out.”. Her: “Everyone?”. Me: “Everyone.” Her: “Seems pretty cut and dry then, doesn’t it?”. Damn. Another good point. She appealed to the teacher in me by saying, “You’re a teacher. You need to TEACH Monkey how to sleep. He doesn’t know”.

I’m staying with my parents right now so I talked the idea over with them because obviously his night wakings and potentially long drawn out crying sessions would impact them, too. They know how tired I am so they readily hopped on board (one with a little more zest than the other, but still, both on board).

I decided that the plain old Cry-It-Out approach still wasn’t quite for me so decided on the middle road of the Ferber Method. I decided to give it a try with the self-understanding that this was MY choice and there was no one holding a gun to my head so I could abandon it whenever I wanted if I felt it was too hard.

So we began. After Monkey had his warm bath, his new antibiotic cream applied to his medical mystery rash, new jammies on, book, bottle, and snuggles. I gently put him in his crib. I explained to him how the night would go (you never know, he might just understand) and left the room. I set the timer on my shiny new iPhone for 2 minutes. Of course he cried the minute I walked away. I went into my room next door, closed the door, turned on the TV and distracted myself by puttering around online. The timer dinged, I went in, pat his back (he was standing), kissed his head, told him I loved him and left. He cried harder. The timer dinged, I repeated the process. I set the timer for 5 minutes but when it dinged all was quiet. Oh Holy Sweet Mother of Jesus my child was actually asleep. I felt euphoric. We had done it. Together Monkey and I made it through the first attempt. No hours and hours of crying for either of us. No vomit. We did it.

Instead of writing what would likely end up being a little novel, I’ll summarise the rest of the night by saying he cried out 4 mores times. Two of those times he went back to sleep in less than two minutes. One of them was a little drawn out around 3:15am (half an hour til he was back asleep). At 5:50 am, the time we have been getting up and starting our day for the past several weeks, I brought him into bed figuring he was hungry so I would nurse him and we’d get up. We both fell asleep until 7:45am.

Oh. My. God.

Nap time came this morning so I figured we’d try it again. Less than 15 minutes and two visits from me and he was asleep. Famous for his 30 minute naps I wondered how long this one would last. We just came to the 30 minute mark and he startled me with his little “quirk” (not quite a cry”). I will have to go in in a second and visit him. I can hear that he is quiet (normally he plays in his crib instead of crying if he’s actually done sleeping). But even if this nap is only 30 minutes long we are making progress. He went to sleep on his own. Our night was good (ok, good for us, for you maybe not so much, but we’ll get there). *Note: this nap only lasted 30 minutes. I waited a few intervals, going in to visit, but it seemed he was done so I got him up. No harm done. Nap one: success. 

So Oprah might ask me what I’ve learned or am learning from all of this.
I am learning that you have to stick to your guns. I do not regret not doing this sooner. I wasn’t ready. I am proud that Hubby and I tried everything else first. If I were to do it all again I wouldn’t change how we did things, maybe just how long we spent on each thing (some more some less depending on what we’re talking about).
I am learning that sometimes your child will surprise you.
I am learning that parenting is really damn hard. Just when you think you foresee ways in which you will struggle other new and unpredictable ways pop up and you have to deal with them, too.
I am learning that doing what is best for Monkey sometimes means doing what is best for me, too.
I am learning that doing what is best for Monkey also sometimes means he might be unhappy in the process. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. I am sitting here now, writing and listening to him cry and it isn’t easy, that’s for sure. But our success last night and at the start of his nap is motivating me to keep going.

I know this isn’t the end of this sleep chapter. We will come across bumps along the road, I know that. But I now know that Monkey is more capable than I thought. And more importantly, I am more capable than I thought. I have to listen to my heart, certainly, but I also have to listen to my head. I am ruled by my heart, I always have been, and sometimes I think my feelings, emotions and in this case guilt get in the way of what makes sense on a rational level.

We will see what the future holds. I know Monkey and I (and Hubby when his course is over) are crossing this bridge together, hand in tiny little hand. We are making me proud. This is the first “big” bridge we are crossing, and our small successes in even this short period of time make me feel that we will continue to cross them together in the future, even as that tiny little hand in mine gets bigger and bigger.

I hope that you are able to cross your parenting bridges, too. I hope you find the courage to take risks to do things you feel you may not be able to do, whatever they may be. And I hope you feel as proud of you and your little babe as I do of myself and mine.

Enjoy your sleep tonight!
🙂 Mel

P.S. I just put Monkey down for the night (this Blog sat unfinished for most of the day)….literally 30 seconds of crying and now not a sound for 10 minutes. Way to go, Monkey!!

Let’s Play Word Association…

When I say, “family”, what jumps into your mind?
Love?
Dislike?
Support?
Independent?
Kindness?
Spiteful?
Calm?
Craziness?
Big?
Small?
Far apart?
Tight knight?

Whatever your associations to the thought may be, we are each dealt just one family. We don’t get to pick’em, they’re just there. Good or bad, we just get the one. Unless you count the one you marry into, but you get just one of those, too (well, at least, one with each spouse! Haha).

With the exception of me, my immediate family has the distinct good fortune of living in the same town. My parents and Big Sister and Big Brother and his wife all live within 10 minutes of each other. Fifteen if the train is coming into town (which is probably carrying Big Sister on it anyway). I, on the other hand, live several provinces away. Leave it to me to be the odd one out (in oh so many ways, I’m sure).

But of course I went ahead and married a military man which gives me somewhat of a nomadic existence. Despite my hardest wishes, I realize I will likely never live so close to the rest of my family. This kills me. I think it would be easier if the rest of my family WASN’T so close. If everyone was spread out then I wouldn’t feel like I was missing so much. I have two little nephews that I feel like I hardly know. I miss birthday celebrations, casual Sunday dinners, Saturdays in the summer around the pool, hanging out at Big Sister’s place, and I often dream about my son and his cousins being able to play together regularly. Whether or not you are a military spouse, anyone who lives apart from their families knows how hard it can be and how much you often ache to be nearer.

And now a few personal words. I hope I don’t embarrass Big Brother and Big Sister by writing this so openly, but I think I’ve become sappier by living so far away.

Big Sister has become increasingly goofier with time. It’s possible that our fairly large age difference just prevented me from noticing it before, but in the past few years I have discovered her to be both hilarious and highly entertaining. We email, Facebook, text, and Skype regularly. In fact last night we were Skyping while we all had dinner and we placed the computer at a place at the table and pretended she was really there. It was really, really great, and doing things like that does help make it feel as though we aren’t thousands of kilometers away.

Big Brother is a busy man. A Daddy of two very young boys, husband, avid volley ball player and full time business man, his “free time” is typically spent sleeping since it usually falls between the hours of 11pm and 8am. Busy as he is, however, I know he is there. We don’t talk often and he’s a slippery fish to get ahold of, but when we do talk we have really, really great conversations. In fact, he called the other night, his beautiful wife taking a much-earned evening out and both little ones in bed. Had Monkey not woken up causing me to end the conversation after just half an hour, I feel like we could have chatted all night. Just about nothing and everything at the same time. I loved it. I miss it. I wish we were closer.

I guess the point of this blog is to take a moment not to rant, not to be sarcastic (who me? sarcastic?), not to comment on the military, really, or parenting, but just to make use of this public forum to openly and hopefully not too embarrassingly say to my Big Brother and my Big Sister these words: I love you. We don’t say it often. We don’t see each other often. But I do. You will always be my BIG Brother and my BIG Sister. I will always look up to you and admire you and no matter how many kilometers may separate us I will always be there for you and I know you will be there for me.

Truth be told, sometimes I want to clunk your lovely heads together because I don’t think you realize how lucky, truly lucky you are to live so close to each other and to our parents.
Please make the most of this.
And please save me some dessert tonight. Because I’m coming home this weekend and I intend to essentially stalk you while I’m there. The least you could do is offer me some dessert.

Love,
Your Little Sister,
Mel

Ignoring the Voices…

Nope, I’m not schizophrenic. I’m just a Mom who has read way too many parenting books and articles!

After two nights in a row of taking over an hour and a half to put Monkey to bed as I tried to follow all of the [often contradicting] sleep “tricks” (i.e. no rocking, minimal patting, putting him down groggy, letting him cry a bit) we finally discussed the idea of letting Monkey “cry it out”. Then I had a break down. We’re talking a full-blown ugly cry as I threw my hands up and exclaimed to my bewildered Hubby, “I don’t know what to do! I am so tired of being tired and taking so long to get him to sleep. I don’t have the stamina.” I had promised myself and promised Monkey that I wouldn’t let him “cry it out” to get to sleep. It works for many parents and their babies, and it may even work for Monkey. But it goes against everything that feels right to me. I’ve read about both sides of the “CIO debate” but no matter who makes the best claims, it does not FEEL right. I came across a quote that sums this up for me: “Sometimes parenting “by the book” means you aren’t parenting “by your heart”.”

Here are a few other tidbits I came across that impacted me:
– Parenting is not a 12 hour job
– Getting up with Monkey and going to him when he cries is fostering trust, not dependence

And the best one:
– Where is it written that parents are ENTITLED to a full night’s sleep?

Some people think I’m “spoiling” him by going to him and helping him fall back asleep throughout the night. In my mind, he needs me, so I’m there. No questions asked, no stopping to think about it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t jump out of bed every time he yawns. I give him a chance to put himself back to sleep. But if he can’t then I am there. Every time. He is 10 months old and he needs his Mommy. He will never be 10 months old again. In 10-15 years he will not need his Mommy the same way. I won’t be sharing private, quiet, snuggly moments in the night with him. I may not even be allowed in his room. And I will wish for these midnight moments so bad my heart will ache. I know this to be true.

And so Hubby and I have decided to embrace this time in Monkey’s life. 24 hours a day. No matter what. Will I rejoice when he sleeps through the night? Of course I will. But for Monkey, it will also indicate that he has grown into another stage. A big boy stage. And so while I will be ecstatic, I will also be just the tiniest bit sad that he doesn’t need his Mommy quite so often anymore.

Last night, for the first time in weeks, I put Monkey to bed the way that I wanted to. I broke all the rules: we rocked for a little bit, I sang, I patted, I snuggled, and I daresay he was nearly asleep by the time I laid him down. It was difficult to block out the voices of all the Gurus (Pantley, Baby Whisperer, Sears, Ferber…). But I did and it felt great. And do you know what? It didn’t make a single difference in the way he slept. In fact, once he came into bed with us (Yes. We co-sleep. We have embraced it. And unless you’re on my side, I don’t want to hear your opinions on the matter but I’m willing to bet that for most parents (I said “most”, so don’t get your back up if this isn’t you), if you are strongly against co-sleeping you probably have children who sleep fairly well)…where was I? Oh right, after he came into bed with us just before midnight (I had been up 4 times already since we had gone to bed at 9:30) and we had a brief snotty-nose issue to resolve, he slept better than he has in weeks, and subsequently so did I.

It was glorious. And I enjoyed every moment of it (minus the snot) from bed time until morning (I would have appreciated the opportunity to sleep in later than 5:30am but I suppose that’s my payment for having him asleep a little after 6:30 every night this week). It felt right. And isn’t that what parenting is about?

The internet is a great place to read your fill on any topic you choose. There are parenting books abound with multiple authors writing on every issue under the sun. Sometimes this is a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse.

But for our family, we have finally decided to throw a proverbial “F-You” to all the sleep books and articles. Unless it confirms my sentiments, I don’t want to hear it.

We have finally, after 10 months, embraced our lot on this issue. Not just accepted it, but fully embraced it. It is what it is. Maybe Monkey’s sleep will improve simply because we aren’t fretting and trying so hard. But if it doesn’t, then I will no doubt begin to lie to people who ask (no offence). I’m warning you now that if you ask me how Monkey is sleeping, you will probably be met with a response along the lines of “*Smiles”, Not bad!” I am tired of feeling the need to defend my parenting choices. I am tired of hearing the same old suggestions that never work. Most of all, I’m tired of being told that I just NEED to let him cry it out.

We don’t NEED to do anything, thank you very much, except follow our hearts and do what WE feel is right and best for our child.

Maybe your child sleeps great. But I’m sure you have your “thing” – potty training, temper tantrums, hair-pulling, bed-wetting, food refusal, whatever. I encourage you to take a similar stand on your own parenting choices.

Embrace them.
Be confident.
Love your child.
Love your choices.
And f-you to all those who dare to disagree.

Mel 🙂

Gimme, Gimme Never Gets…

WHERE THE HELL ARE YOUR MANNERS?

Isn’t that how the saying goes? I thought it rhymed better than that. Well, that’s the gist of it, anyway.

Where are your manners?
No, not you, 8 year old child (although they could be a little better).
No, not you 17 year old dude with the piercings and the tats.

I’m talking to you, middle aged woman at Tim’s, or 30 year old man on the street.
Or the a-hole who gave me the finger in Edmonton last week because when the light changed green I didn’t move quite quickly enough. Or the jerk who flashed his high beams at me because he wouldn’t let me into his lane so I had to deek in rather quickly which, apparently, pissed him off. (What was his thought process there? “That b**ch cut me off. LOOK AT THESE BRIGHT LIGHTS FOR 42 SECONDS. There. That aughta’ have her singing a different tune”.)

?

Oh I really like this one. This has happened to me twice lately.
Someone held the door open for me because I was pushing Monkey in his stroller (kind gesture, no?!). When I smiled and said, “Thank you!”, they avoided eye contact and grunted (What the…?).

I’m confused. Are you polite or are you a cave man?

I understand that you might be having a bad day. Perhaps your alarm didn’t go off this morning. Maybe you were out of O.J. Perhaps someone took your parking spot or you stubbed your toe or your computer got a virus.

But you know what? I don’t really give a rat’s ass. I’m sorry if that sounds unsympathetic, but I don’t. I don’t know you from Adam (or Joe, or Cy, or Matt, or Brad) and I am not to blame for your potentially crappy day. I just want you to say “You’re welcome” after I’ve said “Thank you”. And don’t confuse me by being a polite cave man because I am way to sleep deprived to try to make sense of that, ya big weirdo.

As most of you know, I am a teacher. I don’t know a single teacher who would accept this behaviour from our students. We all know the act that goes like this:
Teacher hands object to student. Student attempts to take object and walk away without displaying gratitude. Teacher says, “Pardon?”. Student says, “I didn’t say anything”. Teacher says, “I know. What should you say?”. Student says, “Oh. Thank you.”

I think the cave man might bludgeon me if I attempted a similar conversation with him but nonetheless, why are adults displaying behaviour we wouldn’t accept from an 8 year old? Is it so hard to smile at me if I smile at you? Can you say, “You’re welcome” if I thank you? Do you always have to look as though you have sand in your ovaries or piss in your Corn Flakes or whatever the saying is?

Take this for what it’s worth. Perhaps I’m just a pissed off Mama who expects too much from total strangers. But I like to think I’m just a girl who was raised with morals and manners and I really don’t think it’s too much to expect the same in return from the people I meet.

So there.

You’re welcome for the blog.
Thank you for reading.

Mel

A Growing Baby – Joy and Sadness

My little Monkey is growing up.
Alright, he’s not quite 10 months old. But if you now have or have ever had a baby, you know that in this moment he seems like a grown up boy already.

I remember when he was just a few weeks old and Hubby went back to work. Monkey was wrapped in a blanket, nestled in the curve of his nursing pillow beside me on the couch. I was in my jammies with a coffee, the laptop, and some morning TV to keep us company. I looked at his tiny little face and said, “Can you believe it, Monkey? We get to do this every day for a whole year!”. I felt elated and so fortunate, as the whole year stretched out before us like an eternity. I knew that so many milestones would be accomplished in that time and we would experience so much together. I looked forward to the play dates, the Mommy groups, the naps, the errands, and imagining it all unfolding before me.

Now, 10 months later, I am filled with an aching sadness that this time is almost over. In just two months my baby will turn one and not long after that I will return to work. There will be less play dates, few Mommy groups, and, worst of all, I may miss something. I know, I know. We will be fine. We will get into a new routine and it will work itself out. I know I will cherish our evenings and weekends and holidays together. I know that most Moms return to work and most children attend daycare and even enjoy it and we will make it through this transition relatively unscathed. But this “knowledge” doesn’t mend my heart that, at the mere thought of this (which weighs more heavily on my mind as the days go by), breaks into a thousand pieces. He’s my buddy, my pal, my son, my baby. We have literally spent every waking moment together (and most sleeping ones, too). In the rare times we have been apart I have felt like I am missing an appendage.

He is no longer my tiny little boy. At birth he weighed 6 lbs 1 oz. My teeny tiny nugget is now a crawling, standing, cruising, babbling, eating, laughing, strong-willed boy. I love him more now than I did yesterday and the day before that and I know this will continue for the rest of our lives. While I love watching him develop and learn new things and as I look forward to the future to see what his life holds in store for him, I can’t help but also mourn the loss of the early days. Monkey has started to wean himself off breastfeeding, and while I know this makes it easier in the long run and it is, of course, necessary at some point, it also breaks my heart.

Where has the time gone?
Some days I can’t wait to see what lies ahead, and other days I would give anything to turn back time, just a little, so I could re-live these moments over again.

Better yet, I’d win the lottery and stay home with him.

Comments, friends? Please do not offer me advice, I’m not looking for that, but rather your own thoughts and feelings of YOUR experiences.

Thanks
Mel