Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Only Way I Know How

In my post yesterday, I gave a little insight into my parenting style: I'm pretty laid back about certain things like making messes and try not to get too stressed out about kids being kids.  Granted, I want those messes picked up properly and the toys/books/cars put back in their designated place, but in the moment I don't really care.  I like to think that I let my kids be kids, and even though Jax has flashcards for his love of words, I don't push him to be the next Doogie Howser.  Without question, the old cliches are true, and they do grow up too fast.  So I'll just enjoy them and all their faults, some of which are of my own creation.

One area where I've never been able to relax in my parenting is with the kids' sleeping.  I can't let them cry it out.  It's just not part of my DNA.  I can handle about 15 minutes, max, if I'm distracted.  If I'm just lying in bed listening to his or her furious or heartbroken screams, I can last about four.  I have to go pick them up.  I'm desperate to let them know that I'm still here and I still love them, even if I really want them to go to sleep right now.  So I cuddle my babies back to sleep, and thus, have created a little monster of the chubby little girl variety.

I was rereading a post recently that I wrote in January about how I love to snuggle Em back to sleep and that I wasn't going to regret it.  Well, here it is, four months later, and she still is not a very good sleeper.  I am blaming her chronic ear infections, but I bet there's a little share of blame for me, too.  Regardless, I can't change now, and I'm still not sure what I would do differently.  She is getting better lately but suffered from really terrible separation anxiety for a few months; how can I know that during the day she isn't sure if I'll be coming back, but assume that she'll just get through it at night?  I  know she would survive and probably be a more independent person for it later in life, but I don't care.  I want my babies to know I'm always there for them, no matter what time it is.  Creating a monster, yes.  But I'm aware of it and know what I'm getting myself into.  My husband would probably beg to differ, but I'm the mama so I win.

As Jax is getting older and smarter and his brain is starting to work in more abstract ways, he's starting to get anxious.  He doesn't want to be changed on changing tables anymore; definitely NOT in public ones--they terrify him--but sometimes not even at home.  He says, "Change me on the floor, Mama," (and I think, Go pee pee in the potty, buddy!).  He grips my hand and says, "Don't let me fall," with real anxiety in his little eyes.  He gets sad when people leave, sometimes with eyes brimming with tears, and says "But I miss him," with a sad little voice.  He knows people come back.  He knows I have always come to get him in the middle of the night, and he still is anxious.  My rationale is, if he is anxious now, imagine how crazy he'd be if I had never picked him up in the middle of the night!  That logic if flawed, I know, but I guess I'm just of the parenting school of thought that sleep deprivation won't last forever, and that being a mom is the most important job of my life.  I don't want to screw it up to get a few extra minutes of sleep.  As my mom says, "You can sleep when you're dead."  True that.

What made me think of writing this post was an incident around 2:30 a.m. this morning.  Jax started whimpering for me, which would only escalate into full-blown yelling, and since I was praying to God that tonight would be the night Em started sleeping well again, I scurried in there as quick as I could to see what he needed.  It's usually just that he's lost his Binkie, and that was the case.  I crawled around on my hands and knees for about five minutes, ripped apart his bed, even turned the lights on, but I couldn't find it.  Jax was getting a little insistent, verging on the point of hysterical, that I had to find his Binkie right now.  I didn't want all this middle-of-the-night activity to wake him up for good, so I went and got JDubbs and had him join the search party.  So there we were, two adults in our underwear (it was almost 80 degrees last night), crawling around on the floor while our little king of the castle directed us and demanded his Binkie.  We looked high and low, spoke in hushed tones.  Turned lights on.  Turned lights off, still living in fear of waking up the banshee next door.  No Binkie. 

I was about to go make a "phone call" to the Binkie Fairy, who, as you may recall, came to visit our home a few months ago and confiscated all Jax's Binkies.  She had to give one back to restore order and naps (and sanity) to our home, but I have two more in a drawer in my bedroom.  Thinking that I didn't want to blow the Binkie Fairy's cover, I was hesitant to go get a new one, when Jax rolled over, and out flew that blasted Binkie, which had been stuck in his sleeve the whole time!  He was sleeping in one of my t-shirts because it was so hot (and it was a bit like a manly nightgown), and the Binkie was lost in one of the many folds.  Jax triumphantly cried, "Here it is!", popped it in his mouth, and rolled over to go back to sleep.  JDubbs and I blinked in confusion, looked at each, shrugged, tucked him in, and went back to bed.  Once back in our room, we had to laugh.  Our kids sure have us wrapped around their fingers.  Both parents in his room in the middle of the night, searching for something that wasn't even lost.  I told you I'm an easy mark.

But, that's who I am.  It's how I parent, and it's the only way I know how.  Flawed?  Most certainly.  But happy nonetheless.  They'll be big before I know it, and I'll be like that crazy lady in Love You Forever who drives across town with a ladder to watch her grown son sleep.  I might be flawed, but at least I'm not crazy.  Yet.


Dwija {House Unseen} said...

You know, all of us go through the same things. Truly! My boy is almost 4 and we just barely weened him off the binky. All that stuff about making it fun and this and that....with some kids it just doesn't work! Eventually I knew he was "ready". Ready to be bribed that is! That's when I said "Hey, if you sleep all night with no binky, I'll give you a present car in the morning. The first time I tried it, it was a no go. He just wasn't old enough to appreciate the awesomeness of the bribe. Then 2 weeks ago...SHAZAM! And we've been sleeping and napping ever since. What I'm getting at is that he's still little and none of us knows the right way to do this. Don't beat yourself up or stress out or force anything. You'll know when either of them is ready for whatever it is you need them to be ready for :)

Jessica said...

I love this post because I have never been able to do the cry-it-out thing either. People sometimes imply that not being able to stomach the crying is a weakness, but I don't see it that way. You are tender-hearted toward your babies, and it's true that a time will come when they won't want us to pick them up or kiss them in public. My labor and delivery nurse (mom of NINE) told me that the more you hold and cuddle your little ones, the more secure and independent they are as children and young adults. They are confident in your unconditional love. This is how I choose to see it, so never apologize for the snuggles! :-)

Zeller Family said...

I'm with you sister. No cry it out in this house. Lots of love and snuggles and she's still in our bed! ;) Oh well. J is sooo independent and I've done nothing different with her except let her stay in our bed longer. They are only little once. We will never get this time back. I say snuggle them for a zillionth time. What is more important in this world than feeling loved and giving love? NOTHING. So do what you do and have no regrets.

Lala said...

Beautiful post!!

Anonymous said...

Awww. Sweet photos and great post. Thanks for sharing. I love that book, Love you Forever. I cry every time.

XLMIC said...

You always have the greatest pics!

I love the idea of being there for your children... of them really knowing that you are really THERE for them. I have not been in the CIO camp, I probably do cater too much... but hey... s'okay.

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas said...

You just do the best you can. My oldest gave us so much trouble (she still does sometimes) and I know it was partly bc I let her sleep with me whenever she fussed so she liked it & knew she would get her way if she did so.

It does get better - I had to let her cry a bit and the first night was torture - the 2nd a bit better and believe it or not by the 3rd night she was able to stay in her room, in her crib and sleep.

Just do what feels right for you