Reflections on motherhood...


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Please, my child, just stay in bed and go to sleep. Please?

Milkbaby was a baby when the Go the F*&% to Sleep viral sensation happened.  If you somehow missed it, here's Samuel L. Jackson reading it.  Seriously.  How much cooler does it get than the dulcet tones of Samuel L. Jackson reading your book?

Being a new parent, I thought I could relate.  Like, totally.  Little did I know.

I'm now the parent of a willful 3 year old (what 3 year old isn't willful, right?).  The nightly bedtime battle is becoming something of a routine in this house, with Captain Boringvoice and I tearing our hair out in frustration at the repeated post-goodnight requests.

I turned to Google for help, and after a bit of digging, came across this great post.  Its suggestions include:
  • giving tickets that can be redeemed for a certain number of post-goodnight errands
  • a "bedtime box"of special items that can be played with while getting ready for bed
  • extra love under the pillow
  • getting your kid to suggest solutions
And finally, talk about it, role play it, deconstruct it the next day, and talk about it again.  One of the article's pearls of wisdom: "sometimes, saying yes to a behaviour will make it go away."  And so it is this philosophy we are trying (we decided the bedtime tickets sent the wrong message), along with a "keep calm and carry on" stoicism.  I won't claim that it's "working", but pushing the reset button on our approach to bedtime has so far resulted in no tears and no yelling (from anyone).

And it has meant I can actually see the funny side of the more unusual requests.  The best one yet?

My monkey needs a huggle.  "Okay" I yell, "just leave him in my room and I'll come and give him a hug soon!".

I go upstairs to find this:

No wonder Monkey needs a huggle.  He might also need a neck brace and some physio.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What you forget

There is a vignette in Anne Enright's book Making Babies, where she recounts a conversation with her mother.  I am probably going to make a hash of the retelling as I can't find the book (I blame baby brain), but in short, she asks her mother why kept having children (she had four).  Her mother responds simply: "you forget".

It is these words I keep returning to as I relearn how to dance with my newborn babe.  Even in labour I thought, with some indignance, "holy crap I don't remember it being THIS painful!". There is good evidence to suggest that if you've had a positive childbirth experience, your memory of the pain will diminish over time.  In my case, as soon as he was born, the relief was so immediate I wondered what all the yelling was about, and I have since struggled to recollect the pain of giving birth - much more so than the pain of a paper cut, a stubbed toe or a grazed knee.

Not only do you forget how painful labour is, you actually forget a lot about babies.  Luckily, it all comes rushing back to you, whether you want to remember it or not.  Like my total novice mistake last night of taking an unfed baby into the bath with me and Milkbaby.  I figured feeding him in the bath would relax him.  And it did, a little too much.  In no time the bath was full of baby poop.  I've never seen Milkbaby get out of the bath so quickly.

What you forget

What you forget is the utter simplicity of baby sleep
And the complexity sometimes involved in getting him there
Whisper incantations in his ear, hold him just right, bounce on one leg and hold your tongue right - and maybe, just maybe, he'll go down without a fuss
What you forget is the snuffling and sighing and snoring that will keep you awake at night
As well as how still and black it is, when it's just you and him, nursing
What you forget is the sheer physicality of new motherhood
How your body, still recovering, aches throughout the day, and each night
Your arms ache for holding, and then when empty, ache to hold again
What you forget is that a baby will not be rushed
You're on his timeframes now.
But what you won't forget is the downy feel of his head against your nose and lips
As you lean in for a kiss
And that new baby smell
Of moses basket, sour milk and fresh laundry
What you won't forget is the warm snugness of your babe nestled into your chest, learning your heartbeat.

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