Friday, December 31, 2010

Life Lessons

-written a couple months ago-

Life’s full of lessons, and lately I’ve been especially learning a lot. Lately as in the past 5 ½ months. Children are good at teaching adults lots lessons, especially when they belong to you.
Recently a new friend had a post about her passion for co-sleeping, but the fact that in the end, it only worked the first 8 months for them with their first one, due to his personality and tendencies. As we were talking some about her journey and lessons through that, I was thinking some about mine. Viviana’s been pretty adamant about teaching me not to judge people who live different lifestyles, have different parenting philosophies, etc. And I’m getting there- though, I admit, it’s been a journey- when something is one of your utmost passions it’s easy to be passionate about it. J
I am an idealistic person. It’s my personality, so I don’t foresee it changing anytime soon. Idealism and passion aren’t bad things. Channeled, they can be blessings. Idealism pushes me to always pursue higher, passion sets me on fire for the things I love. But when it crosses over into deciding how other people should live their lives, it becomes a problem. A problem that will hopefully continue to be cured…without too many more teachers.
I went into marriage and motherhood more or less experienced. I’m the oldest of a dozen, and I’ve had lots of hands on experience. I ran the house while Mom was down with morning sickness, I had the opportunity to assist with homeschooling, I booted Mom out of the kitchen and entirely took over it for a few years (I think she likes having a little bit of say in it again, now). And, of course, there were the daily chores that taught housework, the patience and nerve trying aspects of living in a large family, and so on. Excellent training ground! It made life a lot easier for me than it might have otherwise been, when we got married. So I was certain that just having one kiddo couldn’t possibly take all my time, and I’d still have free time. I wasn’t quite sure how some moms could feel so swamped with just one munchkin. I’m hooked on natural mothering, and I thought especially with those plans in mind (like babywearing), I’d be good to go.
So, God laughed. And He gave me a special baby (LINK). He gave me a little girl who needed constant attention. It wasn’t enough for her to be worn or held all day- she needed my full attention. She needed me to be bouncing on an exercise ball just so while she napped or to put her to sleep, or to be walked back and forth down the hall. It was hard to keep her content during the irregular movements of cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc. And I learned….if God really wants it to, your one baby can take up all your time. I have a good belly laugh occasionally, remembering back to the first months. It’s not often I hear of a baby like her…and thinking of some specific circumstances, I can’t help but smile. It could only have been to teach me a lesson. Such as, the time I needed to get some diapers sewn, so I sat at the machine on an exercise ball with her in the ergo, bouncing while trying to whip a few up- and it still didn’t work! Our first few months were survival mode- dinner got put on the table, laundry usually got done, minimal cleaning got done….and very, very occasionally, some sewing and extras got done, if we were having a great day. About once a week, for about 20 minutes, I could get her down for a nap and spend some time with just Ben.
You know the afore mentioned exercise ball? I swore before I had her that I wasn’t going to use any tools that I would be so attached to I had to haul them all over everywhere with me. So I’m sure you can guess what we ended up taking with us every week to my in-laws the first few months. (The only reason we didn’t take it to my family’s, is that my mom has one.) I broke down and did it….because without, she was much crankier- besides the bonus that it meant I’d get to sit down at some point in the evening. Some of the other tools out there don’t seem so bad anymore- after all, most don’t take up your whole back seat!
Pretty amazing that I’m still learning, huh? You’d think all that would be enough to teach me. Through each new day, I’m learning that God orchestrates each family and each baby differently. I’m learning that all have different needs. And while there are some styles which I still do believe to be harmful or negative for baby and family, I’m recognizing that there’s plenty of styles out there which aren’t any lower than mine, if for a different family and different baby. I’m learning that as long as a family has everyone’s best interests at heart, they will strive to do what’s best, and baby will be loved.
I still have my ideals and passions for my life. And I still love to share my passions with others, because I think many of them do work for most people, and are great tools, thus helping to create a beautiful home atmosphere. But I’m willing to own up, now, that some things work better for some people and others for other people. I’m interested in hearing what you do, and why it’s worked for you. I’m interested in hearing your reasons for the conclusions you’ve reached, and not just so I can counter you.
Bit by bit, I’m learning….and maybe someday, I’ll receive a child who won’t need to teach me quite so much.


  1. I was in much the same situation as you, having 4 younger siblings and tons of babysitting experience when I got married. I thought having kids would be a breeze...I was no newbie! Then God sent me a high need baby, too! I did not, however, know much about natural mothering, so I was frustrated by Cassidy's refusal to accept any kind of mechanical mothering. Swing? Ha! Bouncer? No way! Exersaucer? Maybe for 2 minutes! I was burned out after a few months. She continued to be high need for the first 5 years of her life...ok. she still is somewhat at 13! But despite my ignorance, Cassidy has blossomed into a wonderful young lady! I just always say, I'm glad she was my first!

  2. Elias was terribly high needs...he didn't sleep through the night until almost 3 years, up at least 2 times just screaming forever. I am honestly happy hindsight that God gave me the "difficult" one first. Makes the others so much simpler!

  3. It's hard not to laugh at the image of you toting around a huge birth ball taking up your back seat. Hehe. I'm laughing with you, not at you :-). Been there, done similar things ;-).

    My son Hans was the "high-needs" type, and got very cranky the hour or two before bed each night. We spent a lot of time on birth balls and with him in the sling and/or Ergo! I also discovered that he'd calm down to nurse for sleep much quicker if I'd nurse him lying down in our bed, instead of sitting up. Hmm, a good idea, in theory, until that became the ONLY way he'd nurse in the evening. Try going to any evening event and not feel weird having to find a totally empty dark room somewhere to nurse your baby *lying down*. . . then try to explain that to someone without feeling ridiculous! Hehe.

    What works for me? A modified attachment parenting approach :-). I've given up trying to attach labels to my (ever-adjusting) philosophy. I believe in high-touch mothering. I'm a casual baby-wearer. . . for babies that need it. My first certainly did! - my second baby is not a huge fan of baby-wearing, strangely enough(!), but I make sure to give her lots of hold time. I'm a co-sleeper. . . if it is agreeable to both parents and the baby (my first - you bet! my second - happy in our side-car crib after a week old, and slept through the night solo unprompted from 2 months old). I'm not a CIO-er. . . unless the baby has serious sleep issues (and the mother serious sleep deprivation) AND the baby has reached the concrete-operational stage. I swore I'd never make my baby cio, until he was past a year and taking well over an hour to slooooowwwwly nurse to sleep each night, and for every nap. I had to eat my words or go insane :-P. My "philosophy" keeps changing as I find that babies are different and mothers genuinely do have different preferences, and we don't need a one-size-fits-all approach :-). It's been good for me the past few years to be humbled ;-), and to become good friends with moms who have VERY different opinions than me :-).

  4. Yeah, Melissa and Holly, I’ve often thought that it’s kind of nice that my first was higher needs….that way if more like her follow they’ll seem normal, and if easier ones follow- hmmm, I won’t know what to do with myself! :-) Having a high needs baby without a natural mothering mindset would definitely be difficult- and frustrating for the needy baby, too! I’m so grateful for the groundwork that was already built for me, growing up with a mom who trusted her instincts and went natural.
    Susan- I enjoyed your long comment! :-) Yeah, I know….I totally get a kick out of the birthing ball deal now. ;-) Vivi hit a point- I think when she was about 2 months old where she liked being nursed laying down. It would even help calm her during the day sometimes when nothing else worked. And yes, it’s the only way she goes to sleep now. The positive, it’s a dependable, and relatively easy way of getting her to sleep. For now, we just accommodate our lifestyle to her needs- which means we make sure to be home by 7 or 7:30 at the latest from anything we go to, since she goes to bed early. It works- I’m pretty protective of her sleep schedule, and as a result, she has become such a sweet, happy, social baby! I think part of our first few month issues had to do with her being constantly over tired- because of being high needs and really hard to get to sleep, no matter how early I started trying- so when I finally hit a point of being able to get her slowly worked into getting enough sleep (spent a month of my life with that as my main focus- spent many hours a day getting her to sleep and putting her back to sleep, etc.), we made major progress. But, yeah- if you do evening events much, it’s not very often you can find someone that you can casually explain to that you need a dark place you can lay down!! :-)
    Thanks for sharing some more of your thoughts on your parenting style- it’s been fun getting to know you! God’s good at using mothering to teach humility….ouch! I remember a stage of spending an hour- sometimes two- putting Vivi to sleep at night….only to have her wake up and take another half to one hour just 30 minutes later- frustrating! But, she was only a couple months old….so it was just a phase, and we made it through. It seems like touch-time is the real spirit behind babywearing, anyway…so you do what your baby likes best, making sure to give them the touches they need.
    My husband’s thoroughly opposed to labels of any sort. He hates it when someone tries to put him in a box! :-) I don’t fit in one sphere of mothering either, though if I had to be labeled, I’d definitely rather err on the side of attachment parenting.
    We have a co sleeper. Maybe eventually we’ll use it….currently, it’s a bed gate/junk collector. ;-) Rather pricey for just that purpose! But Vivi is definitely a co-sleeper. I suspect we’ll have kids that vary- and someday, will get our money’s worth out of it! :-)