So I’ve been neglecting this blog lately not by my own choosing, but due to the fact I now have a full blown teething, growth spurting, pint sized little dictiator on my hands. *Props to you mamas who can keep a clean house, a cooked meal on the table AND manage to consistently tend to a blog post.* I idolize you and think you’re kind of an asshole at the same time. I, however, am not that mom. Far from it.
Just when you think you have a proper schedule down, a babe who sleeps through the night, and you feel that after 18 months maybe a morsel of your sanity is slowly returning to where it once belonged.
P S Y C H . Reality swoops in to slap you in your overly confident and naive face. Reality has a way of doing that…
Between the growth spurts, what seems like endless teething, and the overall ‘Screw you, hippie. I’m gonna do what I want’ attitude in true toddler fashion… I have started to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I am downright powerless. Despite what the “experts” who have devoted their livelihood to the science behind toddlerhood say or the pediatrician who spends 10 minutes with you before moving on to the next hostage situation, or the lengthy articles that come with every desperate google search… sometimes you have to silence all the outsiders and do what’s right for you. Lately, I’ve realized that sometimes it’s okay to put down the parenting manual. It’s okay to veer from ‘the plan’. And when I say ‘plan’, I mean that false sense of confidence that you were ever in charge to begin with.
Don’t get me wrong – from day 1, I have acknowledged the importance of keeping a schedule and that babies crave routine and consistency. I have been the mom who has drilled the grandparents about bedtime routine, snacks to give, do’s and don’ts (like they haven’t done it before – but look how I turned out.) Consistency is key. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. I still believe it’s important, of course.. and if you’re one of those moms who has managed to keep a strict schedule, never turn on the tv, feed your child all organic, all while teaching your toddler Japanese – then bravo to you! You suck and you can move along now…
One day recently my toddler with her new sense of independence and defiance, said ‘screw you and your schedule. you’re in my world now, old lady.’ It’s been a rough few weeks for this mama. (can you tell?) Milana has seem to go from a helpless baby to an independent toddler overnight and we’re all having to adjust accordingly. There have been many napless days, fitful nights, and mid target run tantrums (it’s target for god sake… what are you whining about, kid!?) Turns out growing teeth is a real bitch. I’ve had my moments of frustration… moments of questioning if I’m doing the “right thing” as a parent. Throw it in the towel and give her a bottle to soothe her to sleep? Accept the fact that a nap is not likely today and save myself the stress of trying and load her up to take her to the swings? Rock her a little extra longer before bedtime instead of sticking to the strict routine that every book, expert, and doctor has drilled into every parent’s head? I have come to the conclusion that yes… yes, it’s okay to not always go by the book and stick to ‘the plan’.
These ‘experts’ I’ve been referring to will tell you to not give in. Don’t throw it in the towel. Don’t give up and bring the babe to your bed. Well, after all.. they are the experts and I’m just a clueless first time mom who’s just wingin’ it, BUT I have started to give myself some slack and put the guilt to bed. They say don’t interact with your toddler at nighttime when they won’t go the eff to sleep. Reinforce your dominance, mama!
Well, last night I gave in. Sue me. I would usually be kicking myself with mom guilt for doing what’s “easiest”, but not last night. Last night, I brought her to bed with us. We cuddled, we babbled, we laughed hysterically (probably due to the fact that all three of us are deliriously tired!). She wasn’t distracted by a toy or a book (or the occasional electric outlet). We had her all to ourselves. Just the three of us. Our own little world where I can’t help but venture to that dreadful place in my mind that tells me ‘this isn’t going to last forever – hold on as tight as you can.’
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those “last times”. The last time I was able to swaddle her up like a little mummy, the last time I gave her puréed sweet potatoes or the last time I watched her nap in her baby swing (what a blessed affair that was 🙌🏼). I don’t want those moments and ‘last times’ to pass me by because I’m so busy trying to do everything right. Whatever the hell the “right” thing is.
Now, before I get crucified by the crunchy moms out there, I’m not saying to throw your schedule out the door, let your tot take charge and hold on for dear life. I’m saying it’s okay to improvise and not always go by the book and to not beat yourself with mom guilt because of it. It’s okay to do your best, give it your all, and when that fails – to give yourself a pass, to leave room for those unexpected sweet moments in bed at midnight, even when it goes against all of your parental instincts. Leave room for those rare, bittersweet moments when you look at a loved one and are struck with the realization that your time together is finite and therefore precious beyond measure.
I cannot get this day back. She won’t always cry when I leave the room, she won’t always wake at night for extra mama or daddy cuddles, I won’t always have to carry you in asleep from the car. I want to hold on this wonderfully exhausting stage and take it all in before it passes me by… and not feel guilty about it.
So until then, eff off mom guilt. The dishes can sit in the sink a little longer, the laundry can pile up, the cleaning and scrubbing can wait. So quiet down cobwebs – dust, go to sleep…
I’m rocking my baby, because babies don’t keep.