Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today as I was rocking Aoife, quietly nursing her to sleep, I remembered the rants I used to post here in the winter, as I paced, cooped up in the midst of a New England winter, willing my daughter to sleep on her own.
It never happened. I did let it go for a bit, and while Aoife surely enjoyed her two-hour cocktail parties with Princess and Special Blanket in her crib, chatting away, singing songs, reciting books from memory, I began to feel more and more guilty about her not getting that 2 hours she would greedily lap up if only I would just rock her a little, nurse, sing softly, and pat her little back. So we just went back to that, happily. I nurse her to sleep every day, and in exchange, she sleeps for two hours every afternoon. It is a nice arrangement. There is no more angst.
It is interesting how, as mothers, we can sometimes create these situations that seem kind of serious and needing to be solved. Often, I think, it is more about us feeling this constant need to be in control in some way. When Liam was a baby, I know I felt this all the time. There was this feeling that everything I did was going to cause something else to happen. If I nurse him to sleep every time, that will cause him to be a bad sleeper. If I don't feed him enough of a variety, he won't be a good eater. With Aoife, I was less this way on a regular basis, but then when there were times in my life when I was generally more uptight, it crept back in. Me being annoyed about her really mild sleep dependence at naptime is a perfect example that I can see so clearly right now. That was just me, in the middle of winter, really, really wanting to be able to have 2 hours to myself in the middle of the day. Simple, that.
I really do look forward to having another baby again, because I feel like with each baby, it gets a little simpler just in that I realize that there are very few situations that really need to be solved. While I am a big believer in calm, consistent routines, I also really adhere to the chimpanzee theory of baby-parenting, and the more I let go of the idea that I am "forming habits" (which is a thing people throw around when talking about newborns, and it is really a load of crap) the more I am encouraged to just think chimp and love my baby. I think I was about 40% chimp with Liam, and about 80% chimp with Aoife. So maybe I can get up to like 92% chimp with the next one. We shall see.
It is fascinating how different the babies are.
And in this, I must reflect, that I cannot ever make statements like the ones I made above without wondering for quite some time what it would have been like if my Charlotte had lived. Where would she have slept? How? Would I have nursed her to sleep? I won't ever know. And I can't even imagine. She is like a dream to me.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Oh, I love this. I needed to see this, right at this moment. After feeling buffeted and criticized for my every parenting decision today, it is a joy to read about you following your heart and your instincts, following the path of calm rather than angst, doing what feels right and what works. It gives me hope that I can learn to do the same, to treasure the nursing to sleep, to not care about things that don't matter that much (like open freezers or other mishaps).

Also I want you to know how much I look forward to every single post on your blog. Seeing a new post is like getting a present, one that is profound and authentic and moving.