Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Serene confidence

It's important to do this whole escapade justice by documenting the ups as well as the downs, and I'd hate it if the whole interweb thought I was miserable with my lot.
For over a week now we've had a new rhythm to this bit of the day: I have given up trying to fight bonzo into a nap in the morning and instead am doing my day's grocery shopping quite early, timed so we leave sainsburys as close as possible to 3 hours after he's woken for the day. I swear, for at least seven days in a row this has worked beautifully, he nods off without a murmur on the way home, stays asleep when we arrive home, and I get to sit in my (newly cleared) living room, drink some coffee, catch up on some emails, and be right by him for when he wakes. When I was writing my last post I was still feeling despairing but a few days further on, I've gained some hope again about these little oases of time to myself, even if I'm not doing a mite useful with them apart from self-renewing. And I'm back round the circle, feeling good about being consumed by him, feeling sure that every moment of investment is worth it, that this intense parenting is right for him, and that I might just make it out of the other side in one piece.
(of course, you can't know for sure that it's me writing this rather than a sneaky interloper determined to access the exciting world under the keyboard)

Sunday, 26 February 2012


Not quite a success, then, on posting on the blog really regularly to prove to myself that I could make time available for non-babywork.
It's all just feeling a bit challenging at the moment. The duracell baby is getting more wondrous and fascinating by the day: while he's still not doing anything useful like crawling, he is, on his spot, so mobile, and so engaged, and so engaging, and just a complete joy. But as soon as I've become acclimatised to his rhythms, they change, and he is now going longer and longer periods without wanting to sleep, meaning that he's needing more and more mummy time as he doesn't really entertain himself (and why should he, at this age?). Combine this with the separation anxiety meaning that he can't be alone, ever, apart from maybe the first 45 minutes after he goes to bed at night (after his first waking, which is never long after he goes off, he's frantic if put down, so of an evening one of us has to be with him; no, having him down with us to sleep doesn't work because the world's too interesting downstairs, and no, I don't feel I can make his bedtime any later or mine any earlier, I'm already packing up at 9pm), and the time I have left for activity, or for peaceful thought, or for purposeful planning, is painfully short. At this moment, he's napping, and has been for an hour and a bit (achieved by going out with the buggy and just pushing and pushing until he slept) so I've had a lovely quiet read of the paper, but I can't focus, can't remember how to relax. I don't know how to plan anything, can't imagine a time when he won't be so helpless, can't think of how to gather up the scraps of myself.
It's made harder by talking to other mothers with babies the same age because they really do seem all to be in routines, sleeping through the night, content to be left in the jumperoo for a couple of hours a day, happy with other people, etc. These mothers look at me pityingly, suggest that I will have to give in soon to "sleep training", suggest that I've already "ruined" him by making him "too attached" so that he won't happily be with others, suggest that I can't go on like this, I'll make myself ill, I need to be selfish, and so on, and so on. I nod, smile, perhaps if goaded explain that "sleep training" of any sort would, for this baby, at this age, be, as far as I'm concerned, unforgivably cruel, and that I believe he will get there in his own time helped with the patient loving of his parents, but this only convinces me in the daylight hours. At night I'm scared, tired and scared, don't know what's wrong with him, don't know why I'm such a hopeless mother that my baby is always so unchilled, can't think that the situation is redeemable, terrified of the future. At 3am I can imagine him being 15 and despising me, and me being 48 and despising myself, because at 33 I stopped my life and became obsessed with a baby, and he consumed me. But how can I be anything other than obsessed? How can I be thinking about anything other than sleep, when most nights he wakes seven or eight times and cannot relax until I've walked around holding him? How can I plan for doing anything when he needs me so much all of the time? What self is there left when everything is about his nurture?
I don't resent it; I don't wish I didn't have him; in the daytime when he is awake and with me I am consumed with love and tenderness for him; I feel sure at all levels that the attached parenting choices I have made and am making are the right ones; but I am nothing at the moment, nothing but a mother of a baby who is so attached that it's like we share a body.
(more cheerful posts to follow)