Sleep, and Sleepability.

Collin is almost two, so why has that suddenly opened up sleep anxiety for me? Surely, by now, I must be used to the bed sharing, breastfeeding-all-night version of sleep.

And yes, I am. And I keep it up not just for Collin’s enjoyment, but for the sheer fact that I love his little body next to mine at night. I love the warmth of his feet against my belly, and the sound of his little snores. Are you with me, here, fellow parents? Is there nothing sweeter than your child in the throws of sleep?

I suppose my renewed interest in getting Collin to sleep would be because we hope to have another baby on the way, another little creature to keep my belly warm with their feet. Another little heartbeat to feel through a onesie, another little person to nurture, and nurse, and adore. I feel like we’re ready to expand as a family, ready to love, and love, and love.

So, that takes us to Collin and Sleep. Sleep. God, how I labored over that word for about a year and a half, until something finally changed for me. It wasn’t by doing the normal parent things I hear my friends talking about, such as, transitioning the baby to his own space, or weaning (Although I suspect our flirtation with night weaning had something to do with it). It wasn’t Collin, or at least not solely Collin. I think what changed for me, was me. I have been embracing divine motherhood, looking hard at myself as a mother, as a person, as a guide for Collin in this life, on this earth. Taking in the enormity of my truth, that Collin chose us to be his parents, me to be his mother. It was when I finally stopped thinking my job as his mother was to mold or shape him to be the person I thought he should be, and began to understand that Collin has his own shape, his own place in this world, and it is perfect just the way it is. He’s loud. He plays rough. There is always something crusted on his shirt, and anything he is set infront of to eat always ends up on the floor or in his water cup. I don’t try to change that about him anymore. Now, it makes me laugh and love him all over again. In fact, I’ve felt lately like I’ve finally gotten the hang of this motherhood thing, I finally feel one-step ahead of it, like I can actually handle a parenting situation I’ve never been in before. So why, then, did I fail so badly today?

Collin woke to nurse mid-nap, as usual. To be honest, I didn’t know what would happen if I didn’t nurse him back to sleep, because I’ve always valued A Good Nap too much to find out (Wouldn’t any parent?). I always assumed it would involve lots of crying and being awake and angry about it for the rest of the evening. I was right, and I was wrong. Collin did go back to sleep today after he woke up and I, for the first time, refused to nurse him. However, I was right about the crying, only it was way worse than anything I could have imagined. It went on for about an hour, and involved lots of flailing and screaming and almost vomiting from the sheer exertion of it all. Collin has never vomited before (except the time he vomited on me when he put his Buddha figurine too far in his mouth- “Oh, honey!” I cried. “Oh, Buddha!” Collin answered).  Definitely not from screaming, he’s not really a screamer by nature. In fact, I could hardly remember a time when I had seen Collin this upset. Somehow, I stayed strong, no matter how many times I told myself, “OK, I don’t care anymore. This isn’t worth it. I’ll nurse him as soon as he catches his breath.” 

Only he would catch his breath, and instead of giving him a boob, I would just take a breath, myself, and continue to pat his back and Shhh.

Then it was over, and he actually fell asleep without nursing, for the first time ever, and I almost cried with relief. It had turned into a power struggle, something I hate and avoid at all costs.

I wish I could say that when Collin woke up, everything was back to normal. I wish I could say that he woke up smiling and talking about fruit and things that go ‘beep’, like he usually does. Instead, he slept fitfully, and woke up screaming. For the rest of the day, things were a little weird for us, and it was the first time I’d ever experienced anything like it. We spent the rest of the day holding each other and not talking at all about the terrible hour we’d spent battling wills. I realized, I was repeating an old family tradition of mine, one that goes a little something like, “if you don’t talk about it,  it’s like it never happened. “

 So, I picked myself up off the floor of my Self-imposed Bad Motherhood Moment, brushed myself off, and gave my child a kiss. I gave myself one, too, because you can’t move on unless you show yourself compassion.  Then we talked about it, a little. And I I decided there must be a better way to get through a nap. Any suggestions? In the meantime, I’m feeling grateful for what I have, for the big spirit in a small package that is Collin, whom I am helping in this world. I am loving every minute of being a family of three, because things will change, I know this. Our family will expand, when the time is right. For now, I will love motherhood as I know it now, in good moments, and bad.


My crazy family

Last night, we ate at a restaurant.

There’s always a point these days, shortly after arriving and being seated, when the two seconds of restaurant crayon novelty have worn off, and Collin is climbing all over everybody and pounding his spoon on the table, and I’m wondering, “Whose idea was this, again?”

The answer is usually: Mine.

We’ve made a habit of leaving a healthy tip after a meal, because, as most parents of busy toddlers can attest, the mess is catastrophic. We’re talking the rice ground into the carpet, tables sticky with drinks that have been dumped repeatedly, and broccoli that lands on the other side of the restaurant variety.  Usually, I’m so engrossed in keeping Collin from singlehandedly destroying every other person’s dining experience, that I kind of go into this “restaurant zone,” and neglect everything else around me. But, last night, I could only wonder what we must have looked like to the outside world, to the other diners and wait staff.

There I am, pouring my decaf coffee down my gullet, because being in a restaurant is a special occasion in and of itself, and normal health rules go out the window. Thus, my coffee is LOADED with those toxic flavored creamers that make it nothing short of liquid crack. The evidence is the embarrassingly gluttonous army of empty creamer cups surrounding my side of the table. As the waitress clears them with a fork lift, she reassuringly says, “I like cream in my coffee, too.” Um, yeah. Not as much as I do, apparently.

There’s Collin, disheveled with his long hair in his eyes, eating his mac & cheese face first out of the bowl, like a barn animal eating from his trough. Every now and then, he takes a break for a big bite of his crayon with a zestful, “Mmmm!” And where are his parents during all of this? Why aren’t they correcting him? (“We eat with a spoon, Honey. Like a person.“) Oh, they’re right there beside him, shoveling their food into their faces as fast as they can so they can finish before he does and starts to get bored again. They’re just happy he finished his spoon drum solo.

Who are these people?? How did I become this family? This weirdo, wacky family that I love so much?

My cup dumpeth over.

Surprise endings.

I hear it before I have a chance to even see it, and I instantly know what has happened. I hear the familiar bloop bloop of water sloshing around in the coveted, “Adults only,” glass that Collin’s noodle arm has somehow swiped off the table. Now, here he comes around the corner, his face a mask of delight as he clutches his prize.

This can end in one of two ways:
A) There will be a flood of water all over the living room that will soak up all our paper towel rations, and potentially damage something.
B) There will be a flood of water, and a million shards of glass all over the place that skitter in every direction after the cup is flung to the floor. Damage is definite.

Added to my dilemma, is the fact that I am exhausted, and even the thought of impending glass doom  is not motivation enough to get off the couch and fetch the glass from the baby. Collin pauses when he sees me, and I put on my best fake happy face. I reach out my hand, and say, “Give it to Mommy! Give it to Mommy!”

What a rookie mistake. Collin is instantly aware of how much I really don’t want him to have tha!t water glass, and he smiles even wider, clutches it to himself, and shuttles away like a hunchback, eyeing me warily. Now, it’s serious. Game on. We both just stare at each other for a minute, testing each other out.  I’ve still got my plastered grin on my face, and Collin is still giddy with mischief. I’m beginning to realize that he is not going to throw the cup, at the same time he is beginning to realize that I am not going to get off the couch.

Slowly, without taking his eyes off me, he brings to glass to his lips. Only… Rats! He has suddenly forgotten how to tilt it and drink. I see my moment to strike.

“Bring it to Mommy. Mommy will help.”

He hesitates. Should he trust me? Is it all a lie?

He edges a little closer.

“That’s it! Bring it to Mommy!”

Careful now, I remind myself,   don’t want to sound too eager and rouse suspicion.

At last, he is within reach. He brings the cup to my lips, and I gratefully pretend to drink. He relaxes, and I relax. Suddenly, he is straddling my lap, feeding me the water, and dumping it all over himself 
in his attempt to drink out of the grown-up glass. Collin is feeling very proud of himself, and so am I.

Suddenly, I am seeing that there is a third way this can end, an option C:

Nobody cries, nobody gets hurt, and I realize just how far Collin has come. And I am eternally grateful for moments like these. 

The business of growing up

Every day, I wake up, and everything is the same, yet different. Collin is growing so fast, it almost isn’t noticeable. I go about my days in a blur, and by the end of the week, I find myself standing amidst a whirlwind of toddler chaos, wondering, how long has Collin been talking like that? Since when has he been putting his boots on by himself? And what happened to my baby??

What happened to my baby? In all honesty, I’ve stopped asking myself that question for a while now. My little tiny baby is long gone, to be replaced with this exuberant little person that is so so busy discovering the world. And, actually, I’m not too sad about it. That is, until I stumble across a video of him, weeks old, with his little grunts and sniffles and innocence. I do love the Collin I have now. He’s so silly and curious, case in point, tonight:

Collin: Picks up a shoe and puts it on his hand, like a puppet. His face screws up in confusion. He knows a shoe is supposed to be put on, but he can’t remember where. He looks at me for reinforcement.

Me: “Your shoes go on your feet, love.”

Collin: His face lights up. Aha! That’s right! Shoes go on feet.

I know its been awhile since I’ve blogged here. So what does my life look like now?

Collin still sleeps in our bed, but he starts out in his own “big boy” bed: a toddler mattress on loan from V, on the floor of our room, squeezed between the wall and our own mattress on the floor (mattress on the floor is the safest way to go if you’re bed sharing). Collin is very pleased with this. His bed is his very own space in this house, which is such a shared mismatch of the three of us. Our books and Hindu statues right amongst his toys and treasures. Given the unavoidable nature of our one-bedroom apartment, there is no nursery, no toy room. Also, given the unavoidable nature of Collin’s curiosity and his long, gangly arms, there is very little space that is out of Collin’s reach.  There is almost nothing we use that Collin does not use.

In our lives, in my mind, in my heart, Collin has bloomed into an active member of our family, as opposed to the adorable but helpless infant, that you love, but only stares at you blankly when you talk to him. Collin has a lot to say, all the time, with his words, but mostly with his signs. Milk, food, kitty, please, Mickey Mouse, water. His hands are in constant motion, communicating with us in ways he wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I’m so glad we use signs with him. He catches on to new signs so quickly these days, we only have to show him a new sign once, and he’s off.

My days have been considerably less lonely now that Collin is “a person,” with opinions and communication, and his devilish sense of humor. The baby days can be so isolating. I miss the warm bundle of baby that used to hold still in my arms long enough for me to bury my nose in his little neck and breathe him in, but I don’t miss the hours of talking to myself. Collin, while engaging and loud and crazy, is also so mellow and go-with-the-flow. He is so much like Husband and me. He is game for anything, thrives without the constraint of a rigid schedule, loves a good adventure, and is happy to spend the whole day out of the house, doing something.

I couldn’t anticipate the feeling of swelling love/ pride/ joy/ astonishment whenever Collin tries to mimic something we do, or shows some amazing leap of independence and budding personhood: like tonight, when he jumped onto the couch, straddled my lap, took my bowl and spoon out of my hands and started feeding me my corn flakes. Complete with the little encouraging lip-smacks. Sometimes, I can only stare at him in wonder. This business of growing up is so huge, so beyond what I can comprehend. Collin is becoming the person he will be for the rest of his life, and I am his mother, his mother. The core of his self-esteem and self-worth, his courage, his security.

All in all, I’d say, at 17 months, we’re doin pretty well.

If you look through the archives of my blog, you will find that I crawl into a blogging hole during the month of May (and the majority of June, apparently). Why, you ask?

Well, last May (last month), I was knocked off my feet and sat on the ground staring at this toddler that was my baby. Who is this child? How did he get here, with his opinions and willfulness? What happened to my little baby, the one that doesn’t demand to charge ahead of me and pave a path of adventure, to a world outside of Mommy?

The May before that, I was so, so, so unbelievably, incredibly, sadistically pregnant. I was almost two weeks late after bracing myself for an early delivery.  The whole nine months flew by until those last weeks that lasted FOREVER. Husband had long started to take his time off work . He took over a month off, and for weeks, we lived in this state of suspended reality. We were convinced I would give birth the next time I sneezed, and lived with our hospital bag by the door. At the same time, as I drifted further and further down the calendar, away from my due date, we were also convinced I was some strange medical phenomenon and would, in fact, be pregnant forever. They were going to have to put me in the book of world records for having the longest. Pregnancy. Ever.

I felt as though I had sailed along happily through my first nine months, smiling and waving as though I were on a parade float. Being pregnant is wonderful! I love every minute of this, even the Braxton hicks contractions and the ligament pain! …Then, suddenly, my parade float took a wrong turn down a condemned street, and I’m looking around thinking, “This aint’ what I signed up for…” And Collin, being the prankster that he is (he gets that spirit from his father. And from his mother.), decides to wait until four hours before my scheduled induction to begin labor spontaneously. Now that Collin is resembling a real live person these days instead of a squawking, crying infant creature, I am noticing that yes, he does enjoy a good joke. And if that joke is on his mother, he really enjoys it. Look at the way her whole face turns red when I repeatedly stick my finger up the grimey, rusty water faucet! Watch what happens when I chew on my dirty shoe again and again no matter how much it drives her crazy! The truly hilarious part is that when he does something mischievous, he does it with his eyes glued to my face, and he is smiling with his whole body, almost squirming in anticipation of my reaction. He glows with excitement. He is old enough to tease me, but still young and precious enough to wear his wild joy right there on his sleeve, for the world to see. He doesn’t censor himself, and his pleasure is so contagious that soon I’m giggling along with him.

So he’s a year old. A year. I spent his first birth month in disbelief, and reflection. I asked myself a lot of questions. I reminisced a lot. I thought about the looks of shock and/ or horror on my family and friend’s faces when I talk about sleeping in a family bed, extended breastfeeding, our plans to home school, my joy about being a full-time, stay-at-home mom. I thought long and hard about the way we’ve raised Collin thus far, the attitude I did it with, the fears (and fears, and fears) I’ve encountered. And also, the happiness.

So, I guess the other reason I’ve been absent from this blog is because I’ve been working on this one! It’s my  new blog about Collin’s home school adventures. We’ve just been busy bees all over the place these days, sorting, stacking, and playing.

Happy first birthday, Collin. Happy first year of being a mom, me.

Finding Happy

The baby is finally asleep, and there are a million more pressing things I need to be doing right now, but I’ve had a moment of clarity that demands stopping everything and considering it.

A couple months ago, my father came to town for a few days. I hadn’t seen him since Collin was born. My father and I have a very special relationship: we “get” each other in a way very few other people in this world do, if at all. We sat together in my brand new living room, watching Collin crawl happily, silhouetted by the rain outside the window. I wasn’t surprised, but I wasn’t prepared for what he asked me:

“So, are you happy?”

What? Am I what?

I had such a strange reaction to that question. My first inner response was a gushing, “Oh my god, YES!!” but there was something beneath that, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, which prevented those words from coming out. I thought perhaps I was just reacting to the stress of the move, but that question stayed with me.

Am I happy? 

So, it took me a couple of months, but I’m finally ready to answer that question. And the short answer is: yes, I’m happy. I’m very, very happy.  However, this season of my life, mothering a baby for the first time, is not always easy, and it’s not always fun, and it’s not always happy. I’ve presently got some sort of cold, which always irritates my asthma, and to alleviate the breathing troubles, Husband suggested I hole up under a blanket with the humidifier. I did, and felt much better afterward, but I think more than the humidity, I was healed by hiding under a blanket, zoning out, and letting someone else be responsible for my life for a little while. I realize I’d been wanting to do just that for almost 11 months now.

It’s a trade off, this motherhood business. This is my life’s calling, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, this is what I was born to do. No career will ever make me as happy as being with Collin, even when he is making me crazy. And boy, are there moments when I feel crazy.

But happily crazy.

(Not) Remembering the details

I’ve realized that, despite being the kind of hoarder mom that saves sample newborn diapers (for what? So I can whip it out of a box to show Collin one day? “Look what your butt could have once squeezed into!”), I have not kept a baby book. What? Why?

Isn’t that what every mom is supposed to do? Isn’t that breaking some sort of Mom Law?

Collin’s baby book consists of a box in the closet, labeled “Collin’s Stuff,” where everything Collin-related gets shoved and forgotten. Until that magical “one day” where I’ll have time to do something with dusty baby shower cards. It saddens me to think that I never recorded any of his milestones in a book for him to read one day, especially now that he has hit the mac daddy of baby milestones and (shhhh) he’s walking.

Yes, it’s true. While Husband and I lay in a heap on the floor, Collin toddles all around us, picking up socks to put in Husband’s mouth. If you want to see the happiest baby in the world, take him for a walk down the street, holding only one of his little hands. Let him stop and whack the flowers. Let him flap his free arm and squeal in delight as he stomps his moccasin-clad foot in the neighbor’s manicured yard. If you want to see the saddest baby in the world, pick him up and take him inside. Although, it occurred to me after I came home from work last night to see him zipping around the living room, that he really isn’t a baby anymore. He’s a toddler. My baby is a toddler. Suddenly, I’m asking the same bewildered question I had asked when I first found out I was pregnant, “How did this happen?” (Well, OK, we know how… )

I know baby books are supposed to be the place you highlight your child’s accomplishments, but I feel like I do that all day long, every day, to everyone who talks to me. I am obnoxious, I’m sure. I’m likely to answer, “How are you?” with, “Oh, Collin is doing great!” I’m sure, if I were to keep a baby book, it would be the star spangled banner of baby books. It would never contain segments of actual day-to-day life, such as:

“Today I watched cat hair drift across the floor while I wondered if the poopy smell was coming from the litter box or the diaper.”


“Today I managed to cook and prepare rice with one hand while holding Collin in the other, only to have him stare right at me while he rapidly stuck his tongue in and out so said rice would avalanche all over the place.”

If you guessed that both those things happened today, you would be right. I suppose this blog would be my version of Collin’s baby book. Or my Facebook page, which should just be renamed Collinbook. In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter so much if Collin won’t be able to look back and know the exact nanosecond he sat up for the first time. He will be able to look back and know how much he was loved, cherished, adored. He’ll know he was my best friend, my confidant, my play mate, and my boss. He was, and always will be, my world.