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.

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