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{October 18, 2010}   They’ll Tire Out Eventually!

Aaaah, the well-meaning words echoed to new mothers everywhere, as their babies colic, teeth, fuss and sob.

I truly wish someone would explain to me the appeal of letting my child “cry it out”. It is a suggestion I get over, and over, and over, by mothers of all different levels of experience. I am working on dissecting it a little…Trying to understand it while not attaching judgement. I am trying to look at it from a strictly pragmatic position.

Let’s break it down by using some rationalizations that I have heard from others:

“You’re no good to them if you’re tired and frustrated!”

Frustration. I get this. To an extent. Many of the advocates of the CIO method have touted it as some kind of child abuse prevention method. I have to admit, this is hard for me to understand. Not because I’ve never been tired, frustrated, or crabby…My daughter’s first few months were rough. She was a sick kiddo, and cried a lot. But because hitting my kid would simply be counterintuitive to me. Ask me again when they’re teenagers. 😉

“You can’t be with her every second…You need ‘you’ time.”

Okey doke. So, while my child is screaming in the next room, I’m supposed to put up my feet and enjoy some bonbons? If my child is crying, I am stressed. It is physiological for women, I think. Even if it’s a stranger child on a plane, the sound of a baby crying raises my blood pressure and makes me want to jump up and tend to them. Maybe it’s not physiological, and I’m just a creep. I don’t know. But babies crying stimulate a response in me that I have seen in many, many women, with and without children. Point being, I won’t be relaxing anyway. I might as well be with her.

“They need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.”

When was the last time you found it soothing to essentially scream yourself to sleep? How did you wake up feeling the next morning if and when you have cried yourself to sleep? I know I end up feeling like garbage. Puffy eyes, headache, hoarse voice, fatigue. Sounds restful, doesn’t it?

“They’ll learn to manipulate you if you go to them every time!”

I don’t think babies manipulate. I think they’re very clear. They want their moms. There’s no hidden agenda there. They want love, affection, food, a change, whatever. It’s not manipulative if the kid needs love. Instead of thinking of it as a “scheme”, why not just give them the affection they are seeking? Is that really a bad thing?

“They have to learn to be away from you!”

Really? Why does an infant need to learn to be away from its primary caregiver? They’re infants. Their entire existence is based on the need/relaxation cycle…Having their needs met when they express them. I’m not sure I can buy into the theory that depriving my child of her needs is a way to make her somehow stronger.

Here’s the other thing that I wish others understood. My children (siblings) are adopted. We are adopting them from foster care, and were not expecting to have children so young placed with us. When they were, it definitely took a lot of adjustment, not just for us, but ESPECIALLY for them. Children grieve. I truly believe this, though my friends who are not involved in adoption in any way think I’m a crackpot when I say it. Even babies understand when those with whom they are familiar are just…gone. Because we were expecting older kids, it was a little tough for us to know how to express to non-verbal children that they were safe. That we weren’t going anywhere. And that we knew they were hurting and wished they weren’t.

My son was 16 months old when he came home, and lost everything he knew…His foster family, his home, his pets. Everything. He was afraid. He grieved openly. He didn’t sleep for at least a couple of months. He was confused.  He had suffered 2 MAJOR losses in his life already. His First Mother and his foster parents, to whom he was very attached.

Our daughter, while only 10 weeks at the time, had also suffered two losses in that short period of time. Her First Mother, and then her foster family.

Kids don’t just “forget”. Maybe cognitively, but not physiologically. They remember those losses, and their grief is locked up in there somewhere. It’s my job to respond to their needs so they know that they CAN trust. So they know that they WON’T lose us. I don’t know if it will get through, but I know that NOT responding to their needs won’t get it done. I tend to be verbal (shocker), which is why I do so well with older kids. I can talk to them, and I can often get through. Babies were a huge challenge and learning curve, but I knew that what I couldn’t express verbally, I could express with consistency, nurturing and unconditional love. It’s really the only tool I have, so letting them cry, in my view, would really send them a glaring message, wouldn’t it?

In the end, I think it worked out. I can’t say for sure it was because we didn’t use CIO, but I think it’s probably a good bet that they feel secure that their needs will be met. Both kids are very affectionate, expressive, and have healthy attachments to us. Hopefully, as they get older and work through their grief, they will be able to express it (not necessarily to us, if they don’t want to) because they have not been made to feel unsafe in expressing emotions, even difficult/negative ones.

I am not writing this to judge other Moms. We all have our way of doing things, and while I may disagree with another mother’s methods, I am certainly in no position to be sanctimonious, and I hope that’s not how this post reads. I am just really trying to understand what, if any benefit is to be reaped in allowing an infant or small child to cry his/herself to sleep. Because I am at a loss.

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{August 29, 2010}   It’s NOT Getting Any Easier

I am missing my Dad SO MUCH. Today was a Mommy & Boy day. We had fun, we went to visit “Gaga” (which is what he calls my mother…If she only knew the woman with whom she shares that monicker…HA HA!). Anyway, we took the route out to her home that goes through/past the teeny town (hamlet) where M and I are looking at properties.

When I was a kid, if we drove by cows, my Dad would always honk the horn and say, “Hello, Ladies!”. And now, barring a compelling reason to NOT honk the horn, I always do the same.

We drove by a field of cows today, and I looked back at A, making ‘mooooo’ sounds, and I honked the horn,  and called, “Hello, Girls!”. He giggled, and I chuckled, thinking about how my Dad would tell my son at some point about his youth spent cattle ranching, and some of the funny stories that came with it.

A will never hear those stories from my Dad.

You know, I am beginning to understand this loss, and sometimes, I even feel a sense of peace. But it’s things like this…The little things…that really hurt. He got to see all his other grandchildren grown, and he LOVED my kids. He told EVERYONE about them. He thought they were the cutest, funniest, smartest kids he’d ever known. There was something invigorating to him about having wee ones around again, after so many years…

I don’t know. I’m rambling. And I’m sorry. My point, though, is that the loss seems to become more and more profound as time goes, and as I tally up the moments that I will never have again, or that my children will never have at all.

It makes my heart ache, and I feel so fucking cheated. I’m not even 30 years old, for Christ’s sake, and he’s gone already. I feel like everyone else got so much more time.

But then I remember a buddy of mine who lost his Dad when he was 14,  and many I’ve known who never had fathers in their lives at all…and I think to myself how blessed I am to have had him as long as I did. I guess there’s that. He saw me grown. He walked me down the aisle. He met my kids. I also got to see him in his older years. Much more subdued, mellowed out, and finally not swimming upstream.

Right now, though, I just don’t give a shit. I want him back, to say all the things I wish I could have said if I’d have been at the hospital just a little sooner.

FUCK.



{August 8, 2010}   The Reality of Reality

Remember how I said reality about my Dad was starting to sink in?

I was so naive.

NOW it’s sinking in. Today, I needed his advice. I said I was going to call him.

Then I cried.

I feel so silly, and I miss him SO. VERY. MUCH.



et cetera