Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As It Should Be

Well, I dropped the ball on ControverSunday this month. We had our nieces over for the weekend, and I was having way too much fun eating junk food with them, playing board games, and laughing hysterically at our eight-year-old niece's banter. Seriously, this kid has WIT. And she goes on these bizarre tangents; most recently she was telling us about how Curious George was the fifth Beatle. He is, as I understand, George Harrison's brother, and he made monkey sounds on every one of The Beatles' songs, but you can't hear him because he was never given a mic.

Anyway, I was going to tackle the whole Santa topic in the post I never got around to writing. Chris and I have never had a doubt in our minds that we would do Santa with Charlotte. Believing in Santa is fun, magical, and part of being a kid. But, recently I have read a few blog posts about how lying to our kids about Santa is going to erode their trust in us. I laughed it off at first, but then I started getting nervous. I knew we would still do Santa, but I started stressing about the details. How far will we take it? How will we handle her questions and concerns about Santa? I was going to write a long post, exploring all my feelings on it, until I read this post by Clara over at The Cheeseblog. It's her ControverSunday post, and while the whole thing isn't about Santa, you need to read the whole post because Clara is one of my favorite writers. She is witty, insightful, and says eloquently in two sentences what I couldn't manage to express in two pages. She always makes me realize that things aren't as complicated as I make them out to be. She's like my Zen Master.

So, you have Clara to thank for sparing you my long-winded Santa post. And, what I want to talk about instead is letting go of perceptions, not worrying about what we "should" be doing. This has been on my mind for a couple reasons:

Reason #1-

I have been rocking Charlotte to sleep for every nap and every bedtime for the last two weeks. She will be two in March. Now, I realize this is not advisable due to the quite possibly literal back-breaking nature of the work, what it might mean for her future sleeping habits, and most importantly, what it might mean for the delicate flower that is my sanity.

I'm not thrilled with the current situation. especially because in the months leading up to this development Charlotte was like an Olympic sleeper. A story, a song, a snuggle, and she went happily into her crib, rolled over to hug her bunny, and that was that. So, a process that used to take ten minutes, tops, now takes up to an hour. Also frustrating is that it HAS to be me. I do like that she wants me and that we have our special thing, since as I mentioned, she is something of a Daddy's girl, but it can be frustrating that I'm the only one who can do this particular task right now.

Whenever I mention that I've been rocking her to sleep, I'm a little guarded, ready with some self-deprecation to ensure that everyone knows that *I* know how ridiculous it is. Because I know how we all are. We all have opinions about other people's children, and we all KNOW what is best for them. So, I try to diffuse any judgment that might be headed my way with some quips of my own.

But the truth is, I don't think it's ridiculous. I might regret it later. I might have to do some damage control when she's five and can't fall asleep without me. But, Chris and I have always done what works for us and for Charlotte when it comes to her sleep. We co-slept until it didn't work. We Ferberized until she hit a new stage, and then we adjusted. I've used an Ergo to get her to sleep even though she was old enough to say "No Ergo." And, we enjoyed the fruits of all our labor during her rockstar sleeping phase. Now we're in a rough patch, but I feel it will get better when she's ready for it to get better. So, I have decided not to worry about where or how she "should" be falling asleep. Besides, I am rather enjoying the cuddliness of it all.

Reason #2-

Yesterday we took Charlotte to a free trial at MyGym. It's basically Gymboree, only it's called MyGym. Brightly colored mats, a ball pit, and all sorts of other tumbling paraphernalia. She had a great time, we could see how it would be beneficial for her to have an hour of more structured playtime each week, we liked that it gave her an opportunity to listen to other adults, and of course, we liked that she got to interact with other kids. The park is so hit and miss. Some days there are kids roughly her age, and some days they are interested in playing with her. But, other days, she's on her own, or rather, she and I are on our own, and I desperately want her to interact with more kids. Mostly because she adores other kids. She craves their attention. So, I want to give her that. She was at top of the age group in yesterday's class, and the teachers recommended she try Thursday's class where there will be older kids. So, we're going to try it out because she will probably have a blast.

But, here's the problem: we can't possibly afford to sign her up for this class. I misunderstood the pricing when I agreed to try out the second class, but once I figured it out, I realized this ain't happening. We tried to find an extra 70 bucks in our monthly budget, but there really isn't much else we can cut from our bills.

I'm disappointed because I know Charlotte would love and benefit from this class. But, part of my despondency on the matter is coming from the fact that I feel like I am not keeping up with the other "good mothers" by failing to get her into one of these programs. I have this perception of what it means to be a conscientious mother of a small child, and it includes always having a box of raisins in the diaper bag, taking her to story time at the library, setting up little art projects for her to complete, and going to Gymboree. You know, like they do in the movies.

Well, I fail at story time because I didn't sign up months in advance, which the disdain in the librarian's voice told me is a huge parenting faux paus. I fail at art projects because my organization skills and limited creativity don't allow for much more than throwing a piece of big paper and a tube of finger paint on the kitchen floor, and now I fail at gym class because I don't have a job that would enable me to pay for it. The only thing I can do is the raisins, because how hard is it to carry a box of raisins on you? And sometimes, I fail at that, as well.

I know, I know. This self-doubt and parental anxiety is getting tiresome. But, never fear! I'm actually not whining. Charlotte is a happy kid. She doesn't know that I can't afford to take her to a gym class, and she doesn't care. She is perfectly happy running around at the park. And, maybe we'll join a mom's group so she can meet other kids. Then again, maybe we won't, and she'll just have to wait a week or two to see her cousins, whom she idolizes. And maybe I'll be able to get us ready in time for the bookstore's story time on Monday mornings once in a while. Or maybe we'll make pancakes in our pajamas instead.

Charlotte doesn't know that I don't look like the moms in the movies, and she doesn't care. So, I don't care, either.


  1. I long ago had to give up my idea of what kind of mom I'd be. Because I can't be the mom who takes my kid to storytime, or mommy groups, or about 95% of the kids events out there, since they all fall between 9-5 M-F.
    But you're right, the kids don't know what we think they're missing. Jackson doesn't care that we don't go to story time, he just cares that I read to him (over and over and over). It's actually kind of awesome when you think about it, that they just want us, even if we don't think it's enough.

  2. Lol @ the recommendation for your friends post. Santa DOES get to trump us!!

  3. Oops, I also meant to add:
    Maybe it's horribly tacky to everyone else, but could you ask for a month @ MyGym for Charlotte for Christmas? I'm actually thinking of doing that with the family that keeps asking what they should get Jackson (cuz he needs another damn toy?)

  4. Thanks for the shout out - I am tickled to be someone's Zen Master. Although there are things about which I am not so Zen, hopefully those won't coincide with yours so I won't let you down.

    It is really hard to let go of those self-inflicted (mostly) expectations. My 1st kid loved storytime (and ours is just drop-in..I would never have gotten organized for a pre-registered one!) but the second just wants to run away ...so we don't do that anymore. You sound like you're coming to a good place where as Moxie says, "I am the best parent for my child."

    Also, my kid did that thing at almost 2 years old. It lasted about 3 weeks I think. & old habits came back afterward, even though we resorted to rocking him/walking him/driving him to sleep.

  5. @Ginger- It's so true. Our kids just want us to BE with them, reading to them and playing with them. All the other stuff doesn't matter to them. It's probably important that we learn to acknowledge that so we're not constantly beating ourselves up.

    And, I don't know if that's tacky or not in polite society, but it seems totally reasonable to me to ask for something your kids needs. My MIL usually gives us a spending limit, and we pick out our own gifts, anyway. I just don't want to spend the money for the initiation fee if we aren't going to be able to do it somewhat regularly. Then again it's a lifetime membership, so it might be worth it. Gymboree's is cheaper, so maybe we'll do that.

  6. @Kristal- My mom always says the same things! She even wrote about it in her blog this week.


  7. @Clara- That is a very encouraging anecdote about your son. It's good to know it *might* go away on its own.

    And, no pressure on the Zen stuff. I'm sure I can manage on my own, if I HAVE to. :)

  8. I hear you on the Clara love. She's awesome.

    Now, on to rocking...holy shitballs, you mean we're NOT supposed to be rocking them? E gets rocked to sleep (nap and nighttime) roughly 75% of the time. Sometimes he wants to be alone and curl up with his blankie, but most of the time I rock him to sleep. Forget it, I'm not googling it. I'm pretending this is okay. We can be a Rocking Club of two people. :)

  9. @Perpetua-

    Ha! I love you. Yes, Rocking Club, indeed. We're very exclusive. :)