Every now and then, I can sneak out of the family bed in the morning, leaving Odie and Baby V asleep, and have a quiet cup of coffee by myself. Since I’ve become a mother, “by myself” has taken on a whole new significance. My friend Sara has a newborn and she recently went out without her, confessing she felt “naked.” (read her blog here: http://eyesofmyeyes.wordpress.com )
This time last summer, Baby V was so new and I had a terrible time making Odie understand why I didn’t want to leave her. Our arguments went like this:
Me: I don’t understand why you have to go out with your friends SO MUCH.
Odie: You can go out with the girls! I’ll watch the kid.
Me: I DON’T WANT TO GO OUT! THAT IS NOT THE POINT!
We had different versions of this same argument so many times that just writing about it gives me a knot in my stomach. The bonding that happened between Baby V and me was so powerful that nature did not want me to leave my infant. See? I’m not crazy; it’s NATURE. Nature did this to me! But now that she’s almost 15 months old, it’s different. I want my body back. I want my alone time again. Going to the grocery store by myself is a luxury. Odie has always called me “add an errand girl.” I always want to stop somewhere on the way to or from outings in order to take care of things (the post office, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the pet store). Odie is violently anti-errand and he gets “the look” on his face when I suggest we “stop on the way.” Having a baby makes “stop on the way” too big of a hassle.
Right now my house is perfectly silent except for the quiet, soothing drip of the coffee maker (and the infernal tick, tick, tick of the broken kitchen timer on the oven). Last night we began to institute a “bedtime routine” that involved picking up all of the baby’s toys and books before bed. When I walked into the living room this morning, it was delightful to see it clean. I’m liking this “bedtime routine” idea. Of course, most nights after we pick up the toys, she manages to bring some back out again. Especially the books. She’s taken to handing one of us a book and saying, “Book. READ.” Yes, master.
The bath, book, snack parts of the routine never happened. Baby V latched on to nurse, grew drowsy and fell asleep in minutes. So easy for me this way. Look no further for the reason why my child is not sleep trained at 15 months.
I’d like it if I were part of the family bed right now. Baby V is on her tummy, splayed out nearly perpendicular to Odie, also on his tummy. The soft sounds of their breathing make a soothing hum in the room. But I’ve been tossing and turning since 3 a.m. ish. “Intrusive thoughts,” our new therapist calls them (more on the therapist later). This morning they were about work and leaving Baby V at day care. She starts part-time on Tuesday, and we’re both torn up about it. Mostly because of the sleep training issue. We don’t know how they’ll get her to nap. Part of me says, “Well, that’s really THEIR problem, isn’t it?” and part worries about the trauma Baby V will experience, crying for mommy and “nummies” and getting neither. Spin, spin, spin, went the wheels in my insomniac brain. Then I started thinking about work. Defiant students. Surreptitious cell phone texting. Talking out of turn. All of the teenage ELD (English Language Development) class behaviors I’ve grown weary of over the years. I lay* awake and worried about all the energy and planning it will take to keep a lid on it and how I’ll STILL have a few students whom I will have to come down on like a ton of bricks. I hated that part of my job and was so glad to leave it behind.
Then Baby V rolled over and got up on all fours. She looked at me sleepily, which is such a beloved expression I cannot help but smile, then crawled ONTO me. It’s her favorite place to sleep. ON MY BODY. I can’t blame her. If I could sleep on the lap of a loving giant, I’d probably go for it. And if said giant would give me sips of champagne and pat my back all night, I’d be unlikely to give that up. Thus, V is not on the path of abandoning night nummies. If I want it to happen, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be sad, and it’s going to last many nights. And goddamnit, I’m just too soft.
The other thing about day care that has me up nights is how much I will miss her. Odie and I can’t even get excited about the hours we’ll have alone for the next three and a half weeks of summer vacation because we are just torn up about missing her. Still, I think it’s good for us. Odie doesn’t even know how to enjoy my company anymore without her. We moved our mattress to the floor and put her crib mattress alongside it, and when I lay her down on it at night, he sighs that he misses her. And she’s like 12 extra inches away from where she was before. AND she will wake up and crawl back into bed with me within three hours or so.
He’s cool with leaving us, as long as he knows we’re together. He spent 6 hours hiking with friends on Friday and 3 hours at a barbecue with others on Saturday. As long as she’s with me, he knows she’s happy. That makes it easy for him to leave her, and it always has. Day care will be different. Hopefully we can comfort each other and find the positives in having some time to ourselves.
Insert pithy statement that leaves reader with a laugh.
*lie and lay: so often misused. Know why it’s confusing? Because lay is the simple past of lie. So you were lying in bed, you were never laying there. You may have laid your head on your pillow, but you never lain it there. However, you DID lay your baby in her crib and gently kiss her goodnight.