Thought of the Day

There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger ~ Agatha Christie

It’s funny how much time you can spend looking at your child wondering ‘does he have my eyes?’, ‘will he have his father’s hairline?’, ‘whose laugh will he have?’

It can be so easy to get distracted trying to identify the familiar characteristics but I remind myself that I don’t t want to miss seeing the entirely brand new, whole person that’s developing right before my eyes!

Yes, he will most likely bear some resemblance to both myself and his father and perhaps even his grandparents, aunts and uncles but here’s hoping he has some surprising new qualities to add into the mix too.

Truth be told…he already has!

Just When You Think You’ve Got the Hang of It

One of the many wondrous, challenging and surprising parts of having a baby is how adept they (quickly) become at keeping you on your toes. In fact, it feels like I’ve spent so much time on my toes as a new Mum that I could moonlight as a prima ballerina – except of course for the general (and somewhat overwhelming) lack of grace, poise and elegance.

Sometimes it seems like there’s an in-built sensor that monitors just how comfortable you are as a parent and as soon as it looks like you’re getting a bit too confident an alarm sounds that brings with it a subtle (or not so subtle) change to the status quo as if to say

‘Don’t relax too much, we wouldn’t want you snoozing on the job now!’

Or perhaps there’s some sort of internal feedback system that monitors your progress so that when you’ve ‘mastered’ one task it triggers the next? And yes, that is a tongue-in-cheek use of the term mastered!

Either way, whenever it happens it throws me just a little bit and I wonder whether I have what it takes to adapt and meet the new suite of needs. OK, so it actually throws me into a tail spin complete with shallow breathing, wakeful nights and incessant mulling over what’s caused the latest change (and whether there was something that I had done, could have done differently, should be doing now etc, etc, etc), but then again I have always been a little bit drama-prone!

Seriously though, ad-libbing is not one of my strengths. I’m the queen of arriving at the perfect response 3 days after the event when I’ve had plenty of time to weigh up all the pros and cons, run the worse-case scenario, talk it to death with anyone in earshot and then changing my mind about 14 times before settling (usually quite comfortably) with the chosen course of action. Complicated and a touch unnecessary for sure but it works for me.

On the up side though:

I’ve survived and lived to tell the tale and what’s even better is that he’s survived too! So far….

In case it wasn’t obvious, this week has been one of those weeks and, just like all the other times before it, things are settling down and the confidence is returning. For at least another day or two anyway 🙂

But it does feel good to get it off my chest!

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thought of the Day

Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers nor do they have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons ~ Elaine Heffner

It is funny how sometimes these do seem mutually exclusive. It’s all too easy to start compiling the ‘things-we-used-to-be-able-to-do’ and the ‘things-we-never-used-to-do-but-have-to-now’ lists when a baby enters the household. There are so many things that we’ve had to wave goodbye to and so many things that we’ve had to welcome in but it’s good to stop and remember that being a person and being a mother can and do happen all at the same time!

Motherhood and the Various Shades of Grey

It’s a constant source of surprise and amusement when I look back on strongly held beliefs I had about being a parent before I had actually become one. Things seemed so straight forward and, in hindsight, so black and white…I’ll never use a dummy, of course I’ll be able to breastfeed and it goes without saying that I’ll be a beacon of patience and inner light. I mean really, how hard could this ‘yummy mummy’ thing be? Ha!

I reminisce on what I now recognise as delusions and chuckle. How naive I was. Now that I’m a Mum I realise how few things about being a parent are straightforward – ‘duh’ you might say but a lesson learnt it’s been. Instead of what used to seem like clear-cut, obvious ‘right or wrong’ choices, there are now about 1,000,001 shades of grey on pretty much any parenting topic you could possibly think of.

I remember how easy being a parent seemed when you didn’t actually have to be one

It was so easy to judge parents with crying babies who were sitting at cafes. Why weren’t they doing whatever it took to keep their baby calm and content? It never dawned on me that perhaps that was exactly what they were doing. Now I know that sometimes the only way I get to eat lunch is to suffer through a few grizzles because, until the human race evolves with mothers who have four arms, I can’t make a sandwich, eat it, drink a cup of coffee and cuddle my baby at the same time.  I also know that a cranky Mummy resulting from food deprivation and caffeine withdrawal is not a good outcome for anyone. Cranky Mummies certainly don’t make an appearance in the ‘yummy mummy’ paradigm!

It was so easy to view dummies as the ‘lazy option’ or the demise of the amazing communication prowess of an infant. Now I think “if it helps and makes life that little bit easier” then why wouldn’t you make use of it? At times the only thing that brings comfort to my son is to suck and that, if given the chance, he would spend the better part of a day permanently attached to my breasts achieving said comfort if it was on offer. Now while, for the most part, his needs do come before mine there are inevitable limits. And for me, a happy and content baby makes for a relaxed mummy. Cranky babies also don’t generally feature in the ‘yummy mummy’ montage.

But then this is just what works for me, and what works for me may not work for any other parent but that doesn’t make it better or worse…just another shade of parenting.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt as a parent is that nothing is ever as it seems

I realise now just how much the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ applies to parenting. I’ve loved exploring the various shades of grey in the big and small decisions so far and look forward with anticipation to all that lies ahead….

This, of course, doesn’t mean that I still don’t have my opinions (and I certainly do) but at least nowadays I feel like they come with some perspective and they generally appear in the context of my own experience…but that’s a topic for another day.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And the Cherry on Top…

To add to the wave of relief that’s washed over me after a fairly frantic week of cramming for uni exams, there was a lovely little surprise waiting for me in the wonderful world of blogging. I was nominated for a:

It’s so lovely to see this type of peer support and recognition because you put yourself out there and there’s just as good a chance that someone could take a swing at you. Instead it’s been so encouraging to see the amount of positivity that’s floating around in the blogosphere!

But I digress, there a few ‘rules’ attached so firstly, a big thank you to Jim from And that makes two for the nomination. This blog brings a wonderful sense of humour to being a parent and I always get a giggle when reading about his daughter’s antics.

Secondly, I need to share seven things about myself.  Hmmm….

  1. I live in a household of boys: 1 husband and 1 son and I adore both of them
  2. I’m half Finnish
  3. I’m enjoying the world of blogging far more than I thought I might
  4. I’d love to have a pet lion
  5. The thing I’ve loved most about being a Mum is hearing my son laugh
  6. I married my high school sweetheart
  7. Florence stole a piece of my heart and one day I’ll be making my way back there to reclaim it

Thirdly, I’m nominating 15 other bloggers out there who I admire and whose writing I find inspiring or enjoyable: MUMmedia, Tofudie, iGameMom, Cauldrons and Cupcakes, When Ideas Fail, HOVERCRAFTDOGGY, Bill Chance, An Ordinary Life, Sweet Child of Mine Book, Coco J Ginger Says, Daycare Chronicles, SMILESALOT1969, Vicky… The Northern Chicky, LadyRomp and Pulchra Doctrina.

These are all lovely blogs and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them and look forward to their future offerings!

Last, but not least, I will now go and comment of each of their pages to let them know what I’ve done which will hopefully continue this cycle of enthusiasm and support.

Cheers!

The Baby ‘Experts’: Sage, Saboteur or Something In-Between?

6 SLEEP MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM!

This was the subject line that jumped out at me from my inbox last week and it got me thinking….how much stock do I put into the so-called baby experts out there?  I’m all for seeking out as much information as I can find, but is it always helpful, especially when it’s at the expense of intuition and personal experience?

As a newly pregnant woman I feverishly signed up to all sorts of baby forums and newsletters. After all this was entirely new territory and, at the time, aside from knowing where babies come from and how they come out, I felt hugely lacking when it came to understanding babies, parenting and motherhood. So I figured it couldn’t hurt to get as much help as I could get. As it turned out, I knew far less about the ‘how they come out’ part than I’d originally thought, but that’s another story.

I happily read the books, websites and emails when I’m caught unawares and have no idea where I am or what I’m doing. Where’s the wisdom in ignoring the experiences of people who have already gone through this and are willing to share?  But when I reflect on emails like the one above and, more importantly, my reaction to said emails, I realise that they also need to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes.

I’m not so naive, I understand that the emotionally charged titles are aimed at getting the readers in (and I’ve probably done something very similar with the title of this post) and topics like sleep and babies are at the forefront of many-a-parents mind.  Understandably, sleep and babies is a hot topic when it comes to parenting.

Well-rested babies are happy babies, happy babies make for happy Mummies and I’d much prefer to be a happy Mummy than a woman all-too-closely resembling a swamp creature.

Plus that precious sleep time provides some much-needed and coveted ‘free time’ which allows for endeavours such as this!

So, I can’t help but get sucked in by the lure of sleep advice from the numerous experts out there.  There hasn’t been a single book that I’ve picked up that doesn’t talk about sleep in one way or another and of course there are entire books devoted to teaching the art of getting these gorgeous babies to sleep and keeping them that way.

Even though our son has beautiful sleeping habits (and he is treating us exceptionally well), I can’t help but feel it’s a little like a deck of cards that might come crashing down at the slightest change to the bedtime routine (or at least that’s my fear).  So, in spite of myself, I read emails like the one above and I read through all the books just to make sure I’m not inadvertently doing something that might all of sudden transform our sleeping angel into a waking wonder who will never again know the pleasures of deep, uninterrupted sleep. I do know that this is slightly over-top but I’m not taking anything for granted!

In line with all the advice I’d read, I decided it was time to start teaching my son to ‘self’-settle’. No longer would I rock or sing my baby to sleep (because that sets up bad habits), it was time to start putting him down, tired but awake, and letting him learn how to put himself to sleep.

For this is what a parent with a baby of a certain age should be doing, or so I’d read.

Morning after morning for about a week, I listened just outside his door as he grizzled and tossed and turned before he would eventually fall asleep, probably out of sheer exhaustion.  Then, some 10 minutes later, he would awake either looking for food or just some company. But I thought to myself “that’s ok”, because he’s learning a valuable skill here and it doesn’t really matter if he’s not getting as much shut-eye as before because I was doing the ‘right thing’.

And then, all of a sudden, I stopped and laughed at myself. What was I doing? I had taken an approach that was working perfectly well for both of us, thrown it out the window and replaced it with one that was actually resulting in less sleep for him and more anxiety for me…and for what? So that I could proudly profess that my son self-settles? Never mind the irony that this whole approach was supposed to result in less stress for me and a more peaceful baby. It took me a little while to realise that, in fact, the opposite was happening!

This isn’t to say that there isn’t some merit behind the approach. I understand completely the desire and need to teach good sleeping habits and this approach may well suit some babies perfectly, but I’ve finally realised that this just isn’t the case for us. And that’s ok. To my mind, reducing the amount of comfort in the hope of producing better sleeping outcomes seems a bit counterintuitive, which is probably why it didn’t work for me.

So much of the advice that I’ve read recently warns about the dangers of techniques such as rocking and singing because you could wind up with a baby who will find it impossible to sleep without an intricate bedtime song and dance routine. Now don’t get me wrong,

I don’t particularly want an 18-year-old who needs his Mum to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ before he can get to sleep,

but the more I think about it, the more I realise that the chances of that happening are probably slim to none. What I do know though, is that my baby has never slept more soundly during the day (or for longer) than when his Grandpa rocks him gently, singing in French with patience and persistence to get through the early tired grizzles.  From what I can see, it’s wisdom born from experience and why on earth would I want to mess with that?

So, I’ve decided to trust my instincts, return to the approach that not only has been working well but also provides some beautiful bonding time and of course continue to keep my finger on the pulse of the expert advice.  But from now on, it will have to fit in with what works for us, not the other way around.

So far so good!

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office ClipArt & FreeDigitalPhotos.net