December 10, 2012

never say never

We really try not to talk in absolutes.  Nothing good comes from this kind of talk in any situation, so we really make an effort to erase "always" and "never" from our vocabulary.  Joel is muuuuch better at this than I am, but lately I've been finding myself laughing at all the things we said we would "never" do when it came to having a baby and becoming parents.

  1. "I'll never be a slave to a schedule.  Babies need to learn they're on my time." Ha!  This bold statement came with a big bowl of crow only a few months in.  And of course this was the one we said often! But oh man, in the beginning, you will do anything for those extra hours of sleep--even if it means leaving a party or hangout ridiculously early or kicking people out of your house before 7pm. Judah thrives on his schedule.  The few times we chose to deviate, we paid for it.  One time, we paid for it for a solid week and another time, we paid for it every 2-3 hours that night/morning.  I think this statement rings very true once he gets older and bedtimes can be missed.  We have every intention of not being slaves to a schedule--once he proves to us that he can handle it.  This may be in a few months or it may be in a couple of years.  But in the meantime, we quickly learned that his schedule keeps him happy and rested (not to mention us!)--and in the end, we do what's best for our family. 

  2. "I'll never be quiet while my baby sleeps. He needs to learn how to sleep with noise." Yeah. right. You tell that to a frazzled, sleep-deprived, nursing-every-two-hours new mom and see how quickly you get slapped for not whispering and then slapped again for what you said. I think back to one instance when Judah was about 3 months and I had just gotten him down (after him fighting it) and was slowly walking him to his crib when right as we turned the corner, Joel's clanking and clacking of his spoon into his cereal bowl startled Judah and he woke up.  I'm pretty sure it was an out-of-body experience because I strung together a few words that I have honestly never in my life used and Joel's eyes became saucers.  Definitely not one of my finest moments--sleep deprivation is killer. Now at 7 months (and even at 6 months), once Judah is asleep in his crib, he's fine with noise and it's nothing that we did that got him to do this.  In fact, we have community group every week with him sleeping in the next room and he stays asleep until the morning.  But we still don't push it!

  3. "I'll always get a babysitter, so I can keep my social life in tact." In theory, this should be no problem. And there is nothing wrong with getting a babysitter often!  But what you don't think about is how your child is going to react to a babysitter.  Since we started bringing Judah to church, I've only been able to sit through 2 church services total without being called to come get him.  And I've tried it all--nurse him right when church starts and go in late; provide a bottle of formula for him to take when he starts to get fussy; add solids; include his favorite toys; write a list of all our soothing tricks; etc.  Nothing works until he's back in my arms.  A couple Sundays ago, he cried the moment I left until I finally came back and held him--and then he turned to the ladies who were in there with him and he just smiled away being his normal smiley self. At home with a sitter, it's better and we are able to go out and do things.  But it's the small events that pop up all the time that getting a sitter just gets expensive or having family watch him makes us feel like we're taking advantage or highjacking someone's Friday night.  How do people do it?? 

  4. "I'll never give unsolicited advice."  Oh my goodness.  This one kills me.  It never fails: I'm telling a story about Judah or something that we're doing only to hear, "Well you know with so and so, I always did this and they never had a problem and it worked great for us."  Obviously, we all think that what we did with our own children was the correct and best thing.  Which it was--for your family.   I've come to see that all children are different and respond to different things.  I would love it if Judah was a great napper and sleeper--but this just isn't the case. I've tried multiple things and even talked to our doctor about it--only for him to say, "Some babies just don't take many naps or need as much sleep." Splendid. Don't get me wrong: I'm not against advice--in fact, I'm actually very quick to seek it and research the heck out of something.  But when I'm talking about what's new with Judah or things we are dealing with--sometimes all I need is encouragement and to hear that it will get better.  The best advice we ever got was: "Everything is a season--good or bad."  We need to be advocates for each other, encourage each others' decisions and methods (because they were probably researched and prayed about), and then celebrate even the tiniest of victories!  Saying things like, "Oh well I'm glad I never had to deal with that" or "Why don't you just try and do this" makes new moms feel inadequate or that they are doing something wrong. Buuut despite my feelings on the matter, I still manage to put my two cents into other people's child-rearing ways.  Whether it's judging parents at the store, talking to other moms about what so and so did with their child ("can you believe?!?"), or giving advice on how to do something when not asked, none of it leads to fruitful conversations or helpful ways of thinking or acting. What is it that makes us think that our ways are best?? There are no absolutes.  We have got to be better about building each other up even if we don't understand or agree with certain methods--without giving unnecessary advice that usually just stems from the need for us to feel better about our own decisions instead of the well-being of the person you're talking with. 

  5. "If I got to stay home all day, I would never complain about it." This one was harsh and I can't even believe this words came out of my mouth! I always knew staying at home was difficult, but unless you experience it, you really have no way of knowing. I'm so thankful that I get to work and stay at home since my job allows me to work 3 days a week and then spend 4 days in a row with Judah.  Overall, those 4 days are the best days imaginable and I look forward to them every week--but they aren't always easy.  It can be very exhausting, especially when he doesn't take good naps.  I rely on those naps to get just the minimal chores done, respond to emails, return phone calls, work on a few designs, etc.  When I don't get to do those things, chores pile up, emails and calls go unanswered, and designs get closer to their deadlines.  All this leads to anxiety for me, which leads to anxiety panics.  I won't say attacks, but I think I have come close a few times and Joel talked me down.  It's sad to say, but going to work can be a much needed time out some days.  Sitting down in a quiet office with the ability to finish what I start is refreshing and freeing.  I definitely won't say that staying at home is harder than working because that's neither true nor fair to all the working moms or stay at home moms out there.  They each have their struggles and excitements.  The days I work, I am by faaaar more physically exhausted because I have to do all the things I do when I stay at home (chores, emails, design. etc.), but then add prepping everything he needs for 10 hours while I'm away (bottles, food, clothes and accessories, note to the sitter, cleaning and packing my pump, making my lunch, packing his bag, etc.)--not to mention putting in a full day's work.  I usually miss the heck out of him come lunch time and then crash for the day around 8:30 pm or 9 pm, only to start all over again at 5 am (or 4 am)  the next day.  Now, the days I stay at home, I am much more mentally exhausted and just kind of "heavy" some days.  My mind races with things that I wasn't able to finish or things that I need to do to make my work week easier.  And that boy is getting harder and harder to keep up with.  It's amazing what just 5 minutes of down-time does for the mind, so I try my best to get a few of these in a day, but sometimes I can't and those are the days when complaints just seem to roll of my tongue. I quickly realize that it's nothing in comparison of getting to spend as much time with him that I do, but a couple rough days in a row definitely throw me and my perspective for a loop.
So I guess the moral of the story is never to say never because you don't know what kind of parent you'll be or what other events and schedule demands may come your way once you have a child. Support those moms around you by supporting their decisions/methods; make their life more enjoyable, not more stressed; and don't judge.  I wish I would have learned this without having experienced it first hand, but it's a lesson that I'm sure to keep learning as Judah ages.

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