Sometimes it will take me a full afternoon to write one of these posts.
Between tending to Emily and my lame ass attempts at housework and running the business, there is not a lot of time left.
Therefore, I frequently come and go from the page.
And today is no exception.
However today is special…
Today, I have a confession.
I bought a parenting book.
Yep! A real parenting book.
As in I spent my precious I won’t ever get that time back again, actively researching, and reading sample chapters of potential parenting pearls of wisdom, before finally settling on one particular how to get your baby to sleep gospel from the Amazon Kindle store.
Because, obviously I needed reassurance as to just how well I am not doing when it comes to raising our little girl.
Personally, I blame the sleep deprivation. Or aliens. Maybe it was aliens… No wonder they used it as a form of torture during wartime. It can make a girl do crazy things she would not normally entertain.
The sleep deprivation, not the being abducted by aliens – I think.
Hence the book.
So you can see how I was sucked in, right?
I mean, come on, that is an all too elusive strained carrot if there ever were one to dangle in front of a fiercely independent, over achieving, oh, my God, I am so tired, and I need to exercise blind mama such as myself.
So remember how adamant I was, Miss Wiggle bottom would not have a dummy, and by the end of the first week my husband made me weak at the knees with love and gratitude when he popped it in her mouth, and she stopped crying and fell asleep instantly?
Oh, such delightful memories; And to think, that was the first of my many white flags I have since waved in surrender regarding my I’ve so got this, naive parenting theories.
Yes, well, this book says I am doing it all wrong, and she should not have a pacifier.
I totally understand the reasoning behind it, and in an ideal world, I agree. Of course, it would be lovely if she self-settled in five seconds flat without any input from me. And of course, she would sleep more deeply if she were not concentrating on sucking on a rubber teat.
However this is also the book, which suggests your infant will play happily under their gym or in their bouncer for an hour while you get your pre-schooler ready to go out.
So maybe it was at this point I should have stopped to question its credibility. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I mean I know I have it good, very good. But even so, Emily gives me about twenty minutes under her play gym first thing after first breakfast, so I can enjoy my tea and toast, while briefly checking emails and social media.
However what is a woman in need supposed to do, when said book is offering the promised land between its pages if only you follow its’ steps to the letter?
I know it is about here, where I should stop writing, and reflect more deeply on my actions, but once again, I have gone too far with this story to back out now.
I tried to follow the steps of the book. And by tried I mean I thought about it a lot, I spoke about it a lot, and subsequently skipped most of the steps apart from the one regarding taking Emily’s dummy away.
Because I decided that, we could in fact continue to manage with the broken sleep if only she did not have a dummy.
Honestly, I am not sure what my logic was there, apart from dummies are bad, book is good… Let me preface this by saying things did not go well. And by well, I mean, according to the book.
Before said book, I was having a fantastic time being Emily’s mum.
My motto was whatever works.
But then I started taking this motherhood thing seriously, and it sucked the fun out of the whole caper.
My question is, since when did raising, children become such a science? And more importantly, since when did I start believing I had to stop following my own instincts, and start following someone else’s?
Sure, the author may have worked with thousands of babies over the years, but… But nothing. Surely, this makes her right and me wrong, yes?
What would I know about Little, or what works for us?
The book, the book, oh my God the book… The book said… Therefore, I have to… I tell you it was three days of utter insanity.
Now anyone who knows me knows I have a hard time listening to Emily protest, so she got her dummy back pretty quickly.
However, not until after I got the stopwatch out, and sat on the top step outside her room rocking my head in my hands while feeling like the worst mother in the world trying to distinguish between a protest cry, a tired cry, and the ever-dreaded emotional cry.
I tried to experiment while Michael was not here, so he would not judge me as harshly for leaving our baby to cry in her cot.
For the record, I think she broke me somewhere between the seventeen and twenty minute mark.
I mean I don’t know what I was expecting, considering we were the ones who had trained Emily into taking the dummy in the first place.
I am sure there are times where it is not what she wants, but because we do not know what it is she actually needs, we simply give her that to make her quiet.
Yep! My mother guilt knows no bounds.
Today for example, we went to story time at the local library.
I had been prepared to take Emily by myself, but Michael insisted on coming with us.
As usual, I took this as a sign he does not trust me with her, but I swallowed my suspicions, and we went as a family.
I pushed the pram until we reached the first road crossing, and miraculously I did not run into anything or anyone. But I was scared to navigate across the road, just in case something went amiss. So I handed the reigns over.
Needless to say, it was just as well he was there.
I refuse to be defeated by the pram, but maybe I simply will not use it by myself.
He says I can push it through the park, which is technically true. After all, I am not incapacitated. But what if I run into somebody?
Anyway, so back to the library story.
I actually found the situation quite confronting, and have to concede, that if I had gone by myself, we probably would not have stayed. Or if we had, I would have been completely lost, and probably ended up in tears.
I did not know what story time would be, but I did not count on it being as visual as it was.
I mean, of course it has to be. Because how do children learn, if not by watching and imitating?
After all, how else does Emily know how to talk to my phone?
She sees me on it often enough.
I know I spend too much time on that thing. And I am increasingly worried about the example I am setting for her by my obsession with the technology.
But as my friend Liz says, a phone call is our equivalent to going out for coffee.
But God knows how I am going to teach Little there is more to life than a smart device, without finding myself even more socially isolated than I already am.
Not that I really mind, as I quite enjoy my own company. But it is for Emily I worry. Because what if my not getting out with her enough is inadvertently holding her back?
What if the reason she is grumpy or not sleeping well during the day is because she is under stimulated, and looking at mummy is boring?
Heaven knows she feeds better, when we are out in public, but I am fairly certain that is her way of playing me more than anything.
After all, she knows I was reluctant to feed her in public, and this is simply her way of broadening my horizons.
When we were at the library, everyone sat in a horseshoe shape on the floor, with their babies in their laps.
My husband is quite reserved, so we sat on a stool at the back, and mainly watched.
Truth be told, I think he too was feeling a little out of his element, but for totally different reasons to my own.
We sang songs, read a book, and did all sorts of hand gestures to match.
And by us, I mean Michael and Emily.
Not that he knew the words to the rhymes, or that Emily seemed to understand. But it did give us something to work with apart from Insy Winsy Spider when we are at home.
I participated where I could, but I was not sure if I was getting it right most of the time.
I actually felt redundant.
I also felt inadequate, as though my inability to follow along like the other mum’s was somehow ripping Emily off.
I know this is the first of many forays into society whereby I am going to smack my head against my own limitations, and hope to God Emily does not notice.
This is not to say we will not go back, but it did teach me, Michael is not so much trying to be over protective, but rather he is trying to help soften the blows for me.
The thing is I worry that one day Emily is going to resent me and wish that she had grown up with a mummy who could see.