I am exactly the mother I said I would never be.
My 20 month-old daughter sleeps in our bed with us. When I was pregnant, and even before, I was adamant that this would never happen. In fact, I don’t have a tv in the bedroom and I don’t read in bed because I have always firmly believed that marriage beds should be for sleep and sex. Since the baby came along, there hasn’t been much of either going on in that bed.
I am SO tired of “the family bed.” I believe in it philosophically. I love me some Dr. Sears, Dr. Jay Gordon, even Dr. Blossom (Mayim Whatever). But in my life, it means that I have either a foot or a head in my face all night long, that when a nighttime diaper leaks, it leaks on me, that I can’t cuddle up and spoon with my husband ever.
I lie down with my daughter whenever it’s time for her to go to sleep. I remember babysitting at sixteen for a little boy, and his mother told me that at bedtime I had to lie down with him until he fell asleep. Even back then, I was all “What kind of bullshit is this?!” It sucks. I mean, sure, sometimes it’s nice to snuggle with her and be silly with her. But when I hear those stories about and from mothers who read their children books, kiss them and then leave them dozing contentedly in their own beds, I cry a little. And since I’m pregnant, I usually accidentally pee a little, but it’s unrelated.
My whole life revolves around my daughter. I cater to her in ways that I said I never would. I let her eat goldfish crackers for breakfast today. My husband jumps up whenever she asks for milk in the middle of the night. I watch “The Wonder Pets” over and over and over because she loves it. But I guess that’s motherhood.
I also don’t immediately rush out of a store if she starts fussing. I used to drop deadly dagger looks on mothers in grocery stores whose children were screaming their heads off. Now I know that it’s hard enough to get the damn shopping done, and I am NOT going to leave the store because I’m worried about her crying bothering someone. I’m happy to give her something to munch on to appease her, or to finish as quickly as possible, but I have to do my damn shopping and if that makes me one of “those” mothers, then I am one of them.
I show off pictures of my girl on Facebook and beam with pride when people “like” them and tell me she’s cute. I know my kid is probably just like every other kid in the world, no more or less special. But to me, she’s the cutest kid to ever blow snot in her mother’s hair, and I can’t get enough of hearing it.
I have tried very hard not to be one of those mothers who thinks my kid is a genius. I think this phenomenon comes from the fact that we all watch our babies go from these helpless, squalling, cross-eyed blobs of pink to little people who walk, problem solve, and crack jokes and it seems nothing short of miraculous. My daughter is a precocious speaker. Since 18 months, she has spoken in complete sentences and had a vocabulary of several hundred words. I am proud of her. I beam. It’s amazing to hear her talk as well as children who are a year older than her. I love when her preschool teachers tell me how smart she is. “EVERYONE’S child is gifted,” I used to mock people like me.
And OH, how I rolled my eyes at women who didn’t let their husbands be fathers without a million little comments and corrections. And OH, how I struggle not to be one of them. There is something about being a mother that makes you feel like no one can do it as well as you, not even your child’s father. My husband still thinks that our daughter is going to fall over flat on her face almost every second, even though she can run, jump, spin, climb, and put her hands out to catch her if she falls. He also thinks she likes trains (he is the one who likes trains). Sometimes I succeed at keeping my mouth shut, other times I fail. And sometimes I DO sound like one of those henpecking bitches I’ve always hated.
And I SWORE I would never be “too tired” to have sex with my husband. I think I do okay, seeing as how I am 17 weeks pregnant and have a toddler and don’t get to sleep alone with Odie in our bed. I have known and/or heard of women who haven’t had sex with their husbands for months or years. I even came up with the suggestion that we put a futon in the office for us to enjoy during baby naptimes and after she goes to bed. Because “getting creative” is killing my back.
I have sworn that I will do all kinds of things different with the second baby, but I probably won’t. I may push the vegetables a little harder, but I’m still going to be me. I think that for a lot of us, our children sort of lead us to be the parents we are. V is extremely attached, a bad sleeper, and very opinionated. She always has been.
Undoubtedly, this next child will lead me to be exactly the mother s/he needs. A good enough one.
This is a fantastic post. Especially the thought that parents evolve under the influence of their children.
If you are interested in advice on the sleeping thing, make like Nike and Just Do It. It being whatever sleeping arrangement you would like.
If she’s still hysterical after a week of the new routine, then recant. Change is dynamic which is code for ‘it sucks’. Don’t mistake the pain of change as a sign that it is futile and should not be attempted.
I laughed a bit when I read the talking part. My first daughter was like that-talking extremely well at 18 months. As I’m reading that, my second daughter who is 18 months now is yelling at me “Bleeelooobyloooo deen deen aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”. And that is the full extent of her vocab. Nature? Nurture?
Someone please explain to me this fad about kids sleeping with their parents. My daughter in law also does this and I just don’t get it. She claims that this is the only way the kids will sleep, but when they spend the night with me, they sleep in their own bed alone! Is this more for the Mommy than the child? I don’t know how there are any brothers and sisters to add to the family!!! Being honest here, not sarcastic.
I will explain. It is not a fad. It is a practice as old as motherhood. Most of the world cosleeps with children. Many people simply do not have the space to create a separate room and bed for their children. It is the most natural thing in the world to keep a child near you at night where you can keep her safe and warm. Especially here in earthquake country! There are a million well-written articles about it out there. I doubt I could do the subject justice here. Check out Dr. Sears, Dr. McKenna and Dr. Jay Gordon’s websites. As for the kids sleeping alone when they’re with you, kids act different with different people. My daughter will hardly leave my side when she’s with me, but she is amazingly independent at day care and goes right to sleep at nap time with no intervention from her teachers at all.
Thank you for taking the time for an honest explaination. I would bring my babes to bed with me during the night for breastfeeding (and I caught flack for that eons ago), but once they got older they were in their own beds. I will check out those websites. Thanks again for not taking this as snarky, honestly just wanted to learn.
You may not be the mother you thought you’d be (or I thought you’d be) but you are an amazing, loving, caring, giving mother. Baby V is remarkable and you have every right to be proud.
Love this blog! I too stumbled upon it by default (c/o a search on Ms Hampton) but I so love your witty posts. I am a mum (Aussie) of a gorgeous baby girl with DS and your posts so suit my love of humour, sarcasm and all that other clever stuff! You go girl!!
My grandson sleeps with my husband and me more often than not. I think he likes the feeling of a person on each side of him. His mom has dealt with her hurt feelings over him coming upstairs to us rather than just going to the next room to her.
What I find interesting about this turn of events is that my husband was adamant in his belief that all children should be sleeping in their own beds from the start. He and his first wife put their newborn babes in their cribs, off in their own rooms! I wasn’t a co-sleeper, but my babies were in a basket at the side of my bed. Mainly because waking up enough to walk through the house and get a crying baby is crazy talk to me. I’m much too lazy and attached to my sleep to do that!
Now my husband WELCOMES this grandchild to our bed without even a grumble. So I do believe that children will lead you to be the person they need. As my husband’s first wife will attest.