Momfession #22: Sleep is for the weak

tired momI am so, so, very weak. I am pretty sure that K is cutting her two-year-old molars and she has turned into a drooly, inconsolable, cranky kid who will not sleep. I literally did not sleep more than an hour last night, and when I put her down tonight I could tell we were in for another long, dreadful night. That is, until I found it. I was searching through her baby things, hoping to find the teething gel when I stumbled upon a soother. There it was, just staring at me, the little bear on it seeming to call out to me…saying, “c’mon…you know I am the answer to your troubles lady…just grab me!” So, I did. It didn’t matter that we spent a difficult week weaning K off of the soother just two months ago. I didn’t give a damn that it wasn’t even the correct shape for her toddler-sized mouth. I snatched it up, and burst into her room waving it around and saying, “Look! Look Kailyn! Mommy has a surprise! Now please, go to sleep!!”
So, I momfess…I am completely weak. When faced with a sleepless night and a screaming kid, I cave. I`m not proud, but I am also pretty sure I`m not alone.

Momfession #21: Zen and the art of vacuuming

tired momI love my vacuum. But, it’s not for the reasons you might think. While I do glean a surprising amount of delight by sucking up every morsel of stray cat food, every piece of dried pasta, and every tiny Lego handgun or sword in my path (yes, that`s another momfession altogether…), I love my vacuum for another, completely selfish reason: serenity. When I am vacuuming, I can`t hear a thing. One press of the “on” button lulls me into a zen-like state, where nothing exists but the hum of the motor and the trance-inducing swirl of dust bunnies inside the dirt-cylinder-thingy. I take my time, vacuuming every inch of my house…all the while watching my kids chase each other through the kitchen, scream at each other, or call “mommy” over and over. I can see their little lips moving, but I always gesture apologetically and point toward whatever room my husband is in, shouting, “Mommy’s cleaning…I can’t hear you! Ask Daddy!!”

Is is wrong? Maybe. Am I damaging my kids’ fragile egos by ignoring them? Nah. Am I getting a (perhaps unhealthy) amount of joy by doing a menial household task? You betcha. And my floors have never looked cleaner.

Momfession #20: An earful of guilt

first ear piercing toddlerKailyn showing off her new bling

Today, I purposely put my child in pain for the name of beauty: I had my two-year-old’s ears pierced. And as I sat and held her while she screamed (they were cleaning her ear lobes with alcohol before the piercing, mind you…), I felt a wave of guilt wash over me. I heard myself saying, “Kailyn you’re going to be so pretty!” quickly followed by, “I mean, you are always pretty but now your ears are going to be so pretty!” Gulp. Had I turned into one of THOSE moms? I panicked…am I giving my daughter a complex? Is she going to think that beauty is only external, and that she needs to alter her appearance to become beautiful? Shit. I am torturing my child in the name of fashion! What’s next…baby stilettos??

When she was a little baby, I wanted to pierce her ears. But I decided that it was unfair to put her in pain for something that she didn’t choose for herself. So, I waited… wistfully looking at all of the other cute baby girls with earrings while people continually congratulated me on my cute baby boy (seriously…she is dressed in pink hearts and has a purple HEADBAND, people!). I decided that I would let K make her own decision when she was ready. And about three weeks ago, she started asking for earrings. “Earrings, mommy!”… “Sticks in Kailyn’s ear!” she would say. It was just what I had been waiting for.

As soon as the piercing it was over, my husband scooped her off of my lap and brought her to a full length mirror to distract her from the entire ordeal. The moment she saw her reflection, she stopped crying. She examined her new ears and started to giggle. Then, she marched over to the woman who pierced her ears and said “thank you!”. I let out the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding. She liked them. She was HAPPY. I’m not a cruel mom…I am just giving my daughter what she wants. That is, of course, until she asks for Dora to be permanently tattooed on her bicep. I mean, really, I do have my limits.

Momfession #19: I wet my pants

Yeah, the title really sums it up. Sometimes, I wet my pants and it is all my daughter’s fault. Why don’t us moms talk about that more often? I can’t be the only one with less-than-ideal pelvic floor strength. After all, that’s what happens when you pop an almost nine pound kid out of your hooha. I mostly pee when I run…like when I am playing baseball and have to run the bases after one of my stellar hits. Those times, I usually run back to the dugout and announce to my husband (and fellow teammate) “dude, I just peed my pants a bit!” to which he rolls his eyes and looks disgusted (ummm, hellooo dear husband…don’t forget that YOU pee on the toilet seat and I have to clean about gross). Or, when I sneeze. Dear god I feel like an old lady every time I cross my legs before I sneeze…but it seems to work. And there’s always those “surprise pees”, the ones you don’t know are coming until it’s too late (oops..I guess I shouldn’t have laughed THAT hard during the marketing meeting today).
I have this memory from when I was a kid. It was Thanksgiving and my mom and her four sisters were standing in the kitchen, laughing hysterically at something, each of them bent over slightly with their legs crossed. I seem to recall hearing them say something like, “stop or I’ll pee my pants!” Of course, at that time I thought it was just a figure of speech. Now, I know the truth. It could be genetic…perhaps all of the ladies in our family have exceptionally weak bladders. Or maybe, just MAYBE it really is a mom thing…just something we tend not to admit. Either way, perhaps it is time for me to invest in some Depends

Momfession #18: Crying it out

The verdict is in. I am a terrible, terrible mom. My child is officially going to be an unintelligent, socially anxious adult with irritable bowel syndrome. How do I know this when she has only just turned two, and seems to be a bright, social toddler with a normal GI system? Because, I have (and still do) let her “cry it out” (*gasp!!*).

OK, while you are picking your jaw up off the floor from the shock of my terrible parenting, I will explain…

Today, a mom friend of mine posted this article on her Facebook wall. I couldn’t ignore it, especially given my recent nighttime challenges with my strong-willed little girl who has decided that bedtime has become make mommy crazy time (including last night when I found her asleep with a necklace wrapped around her neck…but that is another blog post altogether). So, I bit. As I read the article, I started getting annoyed. What research is this article based on, anyway? I dug deeper…turning to the Psychology Today piece that was referenced in the article called Dangers of ‘Crying it Out’.

According to this psychologist Darcia Narvaez, letting a baby “cry it out” will lead to a lower intelligence, lack of empathy, high aggression, depression and lack of social competence. She even takes it to a personal level by stating that

 I was raised in a middle-class family with a depressed mother, harsh father and overall emotionally unsupportive environment–not unlike others raised in the USA. I have only recently realized from extensive reading about the effects of early parenting on body and brain development that I show the signs of undercare–poor memory (cortisol released during distress harms hippocampus development), irritable bowel and other poor vagal tone issues, and high social anxiety. The USA has epidemics of poor physical and mental health (e.g., UNICEF, 2007; USDHSS, 1999; WHO/WONCA, 2008). The connection between the lack of ancestral parenting practices and poor health outcomes has been documented for touch, responsiveness, breastfeeding, and more (Narvaez et al., in press). If we want a strong country and people, we’ve got to pay attention to what children need for optimal development.

Now, I will be the first one to tell you that I think children of all ages need to feel love and security from their caregivers in order for them to grow up to be healthy, loving adults. And do I think it is OK for someone to bring a newborn baby home from the hospital and expect it to learn how to soothe itself right away? Of course not. Young babies have no way of soothing themselves, and have not learned coping skills yet. But to say that letting a baby cry alone in her crib, after you have rocked her, nursed her, burped her, changed her, swaddled her, rocked her again, taken her for a car ride, given her a soother, talked to her, and paced with her, is going to permanently damage her for life is a bit of a dramatic statement.

Narvaez goes on to say

What does extensive baby crying signal? It shows the lack of experience, knowledge and/or support of the baby’s caregivers.

That’s right about where I lost it. Does this woman have children? If so, they must be robots. In my case, and in the case of most mothers I have spoken to, sometimes babies cry for no reason! It isn’t because I don’t know what I am doing, or not supporting my baby…sometimes, like all of us, they just need to let it out and have a “moment”.

So that’s my momfession; I let my kid cry in bed (she’s doing it right now, in fact). And according to some lady with a PhD, I am killing her chances of getting into Harvard or becoming the life of the party. But you know what? I have a feeling she will be OK. I mean, Darcia Narvaez said it herself…she is a product of an “undercaring” environment and look at her: she’s a doctor who publishes ridiculous stories in a well-known magazine. How’s that for success?!  And if Kailyn does end up emotionally, physically and intellectually scarred for life, I will be the first one to admit my terrible mistake. Hell, I’ll even pay for her therapy sessions.