Monday, December 31, 2007

This Is A Man's World?

I am the Mommy. Mommies are the center of all babies worlds. Mommies are the ones who cause little faces to light up, who calm fears, kiss boo boos better and fulfill any and every need our child has by our mere presence. Or at least that's what we're led to believe. So why this past week has my whimpering or cranky child turned into a ray of sunshine when Daddy walks in the room? Why has my uninterested baby suddenly begun babbling and cooing when Daddy gets down on the floor to play? Why has my squirmy little monkey begun reaching with all her might for Daddy as he walks by. This is not fair. This is not what I signed up for. I am supposed to be the beacon of light in her little world. Daddy is supposed to range from mildly entertaining to perhaps even slightly scary sometimes (at which times of course Mommy would swoop in to the rescue and comfort the little angel).

Don't get me wrong, I wanted an involved Daddy - someone who would change diapies, feed bottles, read stories, play games, and do hair. And I got that. I am lucky. Very lucky. But I didn't anticipate the side consequence that, as a result of all this co-parenting, there would be times Coco would prefer Daddy to Mommy. Ouch. That wasn't supposed to happen. Back when I was a kid, Daddy was the one who would play horsie, bring presents back from business trips, and force me to eat my peas. But Daddy did not (for the most part) kiss boo boos, pick out matching socks, or choose the right barrette to go with my outfit. Because of that, Mommy was the one I turned to when I needed a little extra comfort. Now, in my current world, Cora vacillates back and forth between having Mommy days and Daddy days (or in the recent case, Daddy weeks - humpf).

Hurt ego aside, I'm hoping that this is helping to teach her that 1) Men can be partners in the home and in parenting, and 2) that men can be nurturing and loving and involved. If that is the lesson we're instilling, then I can take a bruised ego from time to time.

But I'd better still be the one who gets to kiss away the boo boos. That's non-negotiable.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Everyone's A Critic

As with most new couples (especially those with little ones) my husband and I spent the holidays shuttling Cora around to make sure all the various family members got to see her (note I say "her" - not "us". Trust me on that one - once you have kids even your own parents have no interest in seeing you if you don't bring the grandchild along. Its the circle of life - just get right with it.). Spending time with my husband's family is great since we don't often get to see them (my family is in town, his is 2.5 hours away) but I always feel as if my parenting skills are being examined under a microscope. Hey, I am new at this. I will give you that. But I am still the Mommy -- and Mommy law is like Martial law in my mind. What Mommy says, goes. Unfortunately not everyone sees it that way.

My husband and I (with the support of our pediatrician) are believers in the CIO method of naptime and bedtime. For you non-kiddy types, that stands for Cry It Out. What that means is that we put Cora down to bed drowsy but awake and let her fuss for a while (if need be) instead of rocking her to sleep and then putting her down. This does NOT mean we let our child get worked up into hysterics nor do we simply shut the door and start pouring the martinis. Obviously we reassure her, as needed, that mommy and daddy are still around, but that it is bedtime. This allows her to learn to soothe herself to sleep which is a skill all children have to acquire at some point so that she doesn't wake up confused about where she is ("hey I was in mommy's arms when I went to sleep - where the heck am I?")

Some people have a problem with letting children CIO. My inlaws are those people. Now granted, when Cora is in a strange place, we do not lock her in a strange room and make her work it out. However, after we've fed, burped, rocked, and lullabyed her, and she drifts off to sleep on my shoulder, it is time to put her down. If she wakes up and crys, I stay by her crib but let her know its "night night" time and I do not pick her up. This means she may cry up to 15 minutes. The inlaws hate this. Trust me, I fully understand that it is not pleasant to hear a child cry for minutes at a time and that not all people subscribe to this style of parenting. I don't ask them to like it, I just ask that they respect it.

His immediate family has gotten to a point of quiet acceptance. After one or two "are you sure you don't just want me to go rock her"'s from his Mom, they will let it be. The extended family is another thing. The first night I put Cora to bed at the inlaws, I stayed in the room with her to make sure she felt safe. She did start to cry, and when Mommy didn't pick her up got upset. This happens, and most often she will peter out after she realizes Mommy is serious and will move on to playing with her hands or paci and then fall asleep. However in the interim I had no fewer than three people peek their heads into our room with either offers of help "rocking her to sleep" or questions about her well being. I finally caved to the pressure, got Cora out of her crib and brought her into the living room to try and allow her to fall asleep in my arms. Big mistake. Going from a quiet dark bedroom to a room where an entire family of 20 is drinking, talking, watching TV and playing cards is not conducive to getting a baby to sleep. Cora got even more upset. At that point both baby and mommy's nerves were frayed. Baby was confused and overtired, and mommy felt like she caved against her own best judgement. The final straw was when Hubby's aunt came over and quite literally pried Coco out of my arms telling me that Cora had gotten too upset and needed to be calmed. Ok 1)taking an "upset" baby from its mother is not the quickest way to get it to calm down, and 2) Ryan's Aunt has, at least so far, made the life decision not to get married or have children. Those are two things, in tandem that snapped my last nerve (i.e. someone forcefully taking my child from my arms, and someone without children giving me a parental lecture). At that point I removed Cora from the interceptor, told everyone we were going to BOTH go to bed for the night and that we would see them all in the morning. It was 8:15pm.

Soooo now I'm the bad guy (ok gal) as usual. I'm the one who not only went up against the family system, I am the anti-social, know-it-all, ogre of a mother who went to bed at 8:15 rather than stay up drinking and carousing with the family. Or at least that's how its seen. Its a no-win. Either I stay true to my parenting principles and am banished for it, or I cave in and do something that I feel isn't right for my child. I'm either a bad mommy or a bad inlaw. *le sigh* But you know what, when it all comes down to it, my inlaws will not be choosing my nursing home, pushing my wheelchair, or giving me drooly baby kisses each night. For me, there is a clear winner here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

All The World's A Haze

As I sit here, my seven month-old daughter, Cora is fussing in her "pack and play" (what normal folks used to call a playpen) trying to convince mommy that despite the rubbing of the eyes and the cranky disposition, she is in no way in need of a nap. And before I could even finish typing that sentence, she is out like a light. Score one for mommy. And mommy needs one. Last night was a long night. Not only did we have to deal with the teething monster (the top two this time), we had to deal with the "my grandma took care of me all day since daycare was closed and I have been spoiled to pieces" vibe. Don't get me wrong, I am simply glad Grandma 1) could watch her yesterday, and 2) cares enough to spoil her rotten - that is what Grandma's do. But my little one was up about 3 or 4 times last night and since its Saturday, mommy is the one who gets to be the early riser once she wakes for the day at 6:00am (Daddy gets this shift during the week so its only fair). Did I mention waking at 5:30 to the sound of our lab, Summit, vomiting in the living room. Good times. Needless to say it was a full-caffeine morning for me.

I went to lunch yesterday with a fellow mommy-friend who's little boy, Eli, is about 3 weeks older than Coco. Eli is what most would call a "sleeper" -- he sleeps through the night just about every night. I call that a miracle child. Apparently, Eli learned to suck on his fingers instead of a paci and so his mommy never wakes up bleary eyed at 2:00am to stumble down the hall, grope for the displaced paci and "plug the hole" before stumbling back to bed (hoping that she doesn't fall down the staircase she passes along the way). My friend said to me yesterday "I just don't know how you do it. If Eli gets up once in the night I am shot the next day". Yeaaaaahhhhh. I like my friend very much most days, but at that point I was torn between wanting to shove her straw down her throat and wanting to proudly display my Mommy Bronze Star for bravery in battle. I felt superior yet inferior at the same time. Yes I deal with all the night waking, but no my child does not sleep through the night. In the end I comforted myself with the thought that pacis, unlike fingers, can ultimately be taken away; and imagined little Eli at 5 years old in all his bucktoothed glory. Yes its wrong, and no I don't care.

Friday, December 28, 2007

And So It Begins

So - my very first blog entry in my very first blog. I have now officially been dragged (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century. I question bloggers by-in-large. I have to guess that most are simply either ego maniacal losers who truly feel the world needs to be blessed with what they had for dinner the night before, or people who are one step away from moving to a hut in Montana with no running water, and blogs at least allow them to connect to "others" out there in the big bad world without having to really actually make human friends. Hmmmm so why am I here? Most excellent question - I have no idea really. Call it an experiment in human curiosity, call it mommy boredom, call it an outlet for my witty and clever writing skills (see ego maniacal reference earlier). Whatever it is - its here.