Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Life for real

So the reality is this: I go upstairs last night to get my soft, wet, delicious children out of the tub, and Aoife has puked just a little bit on the carpet. Greg kind of squeezed her a little when he was getting her out of the bath. Liam is rubbing a toothbrush around the inside of the sink basin which hasn't been cleaned in I-don't-know-how-long, there are bathmats and carpets and half-folded laundry all over the place all of which Greg is trying to save from the puke, and meanwhile Aoife is running like crazy around this messy scene saying, "I throw up a little. My tummy is sick. I think I need the dentist."
So the imagery I provided last evening in anticipation of our cozy, serene bedtime was a little off the mark. But we still had a cuddly old time.
Also I would like to say that I took a deep breath and decided this: for naptime, I will read Aoife two books, and then rock and nurse her for 10 minutes, and then she shall take a 2 hour nap. If she is still awake after half an hour, I shall go and check to see if she has a poop. If she does I shall change her and then nurse her for five more minutes to re-calm her and then she shall go into her bed for the remaining time allotted as nap-time. If she decides to just play with her beautiful sparkly princess doll this whole time, I will not have a tantrum in the kitchen, I will not sit there stomping my foot, dreading 4:30 PM, and trying to decide whether or not to run upstairs and nurse her into a coma. Aoife either will, or will not, take a nap, and my part will be limited to this. She is perfectly happy in her bed and that's fine. The first day she fell asleep after about one hour and 54 minutes of playing with her sparkly princess but the last 2 days she has gone pretty much right to sleep with just a little chat so things are going well. I promise here and now never to have a fit again. (Ha.)
The reality is that although I have such a drive to just coddle coddle coddle my children I have had so much objective experience with children through all of my child care and kindergarten/first grade teaching that I firmly believe that you can teach a child to do absolutely anything you want them to do and you can teach it to them gently and nicely. But you have to decide in advance what it is you want to teach them, and you have to really feel decided with yourself about why it is important for them to learn the skill. This way you will be consistent and you will have a goal in mind. Some of these things are easy and don't require any real thought, like eating with a spoon. We all have the goal of our child one day eating with a spoon by him or herself, and so we gently show them, and let them practice, and help them when they need help. Things like sleep, or going to nursery school for the first time, are the same types of goals and skills except you need to think more clearly through what your goals for your child are, what your reality is, and what you think you might accomplish along the way. So I am gently and nicely teaching Aoife that from 1-3 in my house, when you are not quite 2 years old you actually do have to take a nap, and we don't feel flexible about this. And I feel quite sure that she will learn this, because she is tired.
The sun shines brightly today, and the snow is dripping everywhere. The kind of day that makes you long to run outside but then when you get there, everything is very soggy and damp and cold. But we'll see what we can make of it... when naptime's over.


Becky said...

You and I approach parenting very similarly. My youngest (who is 9 months old) is a terrible sleeper, but once he is old enough to understand that naptime = time in bed with or without falling asleep, I will be doing the same thing.

mceeh said...

I just found your blog. When I saw the picture on the sidebar, I immediately sat straight up and said, "It's Charlotte's mother!" I'm an avid Mothering reader and your story is one of the most memorable I have ever read - I don't know if I've cried so much reading anything. You are an amazing woman and I'm so happy you have a blog! Your three children are just absolutely beautiful! And I understand your love addiction... no, really I do!

Sweetsalty said...

Charlotte's mama, I was just given your blog by a reader of mine, and just wanted to reach out and say hello, one sister to another.. so many of us suffer the same loss, each of a thousand different stripes, but the holes in our souls are the same.

My surviving children saved me, too, as did writing (

I'll say the same as others hsve, that all three of your children are beautiful. Actually, my lost boy was a Liam, too. I like to think that even though he's not with us everyday, he was meant to be mine. He has made me into the mother I am. It sounds from your lovely, raw words that Charlotte has done the same for you.

Blessings for the new year,
sweetsalty kate