Monday, March 12, 2012

DST, Mommy Wars, and Fixing What Ain't Been Broke.

Before I jump into the latest burr under my saddle, the REALLY latest burr under said saddle is Daylight Savings Time.  I hate it.  It's stupid.  It jacks with my baby's rhythms.  It's pointless, and it doesn't actually work.  I promise, people still follow their body's clock, even if the mechanical one says something else, and the disparity creates more energy usage, not less.  And farmers?  They're ruled by the sun, the rain, and the seasons no matter what the clock says.  I saw this little gem on the web last night and it cracked me up:

Seems even more ridiculous when you put it like that...

But on to other things...

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about sleep.  And sleep props.  And feedings.  And schedules.  All the stuff that the "experts", the mothers with a half dozen or more, and the ever present "they" say that I should or shouldn't be doing with my son to help him sleep, wake up, eat, and mess "on time".

What does that mean, anyway?  "On time."  From what I can gather, it means baby doing all his various activities in a schedule that fits into my life.

What with moving clear across the country three weeks before he was born, I didn't have much of a life to begin with, so there isn't really much of a schedule for him to fit into anyway.

It didn't make sense to me to expect an infant to neatly slot into grown up time-tables.  So I didn't try to make him.  Well, I did try, did the Babywise deal for about a week... made things worse, not better, so we stopped and went back to letting JJ schedule himself.  And you know what?  He did.  Entirely on his own, he settled into a cycle of wake up, eat, play, eat, sleep, naps ranging from forty minutes to three hours, and consistently sleeps at least eight hours at night, usually more like ten, and in the last couple of weeks occasionally teases me with a twelve hour night.

Just in time for the four month sleep regression, I know.  *sticks fingers in ears and hums loudly*

While many many mothers work, and thus need a more defined schedule for their little ones, I'm happy to say that if you're blessed enough to be able to stay home, a rigid schedule is NOT required.  Some babies take to it and it works for them, some don't.  I am so grateful that I can stay home with my son, and that he is the sort of baby who settled into a reasonably predictable schedule all on his own.

And yet, when people find out that I still do this or that or whatever it is they happen to feel passionately about, I hear the same old song.

"Oh, my, you do/don't/did/didn't/still __(insert parenting choice)___???  You're going to have so many problems with  ___(insert dire predictions)___!!!!"  People get amazingly bent out of shape every time they discover that some other parent did things some other way, as if that passes judgment on the choices they made, and they must now defend those choices to the bitter end.

It's amusing and confounding and irritating as holy hand grenades all at the same time.  Because while they usually have raised or are raising children, none of them have raised my child.  None of them watch him all day and all night.  None of them sleep with both ears wide open to catch his sleepy burbles and listen to his breathing.  None of them read all the books and scoured the internet with my child in mind and finally said "Ya know what? I'll figure it out.  The human race somehow survived before any of this stuff was written, it can't possibly be that hard."

Don't get me wrong, I love hearing about other parents' experiences.  What I don't like is "what worked for me" turning into "you have to do it this exact way or your baby will __(insert more doom and gloom)___"

The problem with all the different theories is that none of them work across the board, and anyone who claims that their method works for all babies all the time (if properly applied and the parents do it right, putting the blame for failure on noncompliant parents) hasn't worked long term with enough children.  Even most of the so-called experts will admit when pressed that there's no such thing as a Baby Manual.  No magic pill, no formula, no step by step or blow by blow that will tell every parent how to handle every baby all the time.  It does not exist.

Everybody knows that.

And yet somehow, everyone also seems to know that their way (or Ezzo or Baby Whisperer or Dr What'sHisNameToday) is the ONLY way that will absolutely work for my child.

I look at my precious baby, contentedly sleeping in his Arm's Reach, happy and healthy and hitting milestones.  (He's sitting up for a second or three unaided now.) I look at myself... rested, with time to myself to write or exercise or do laundry or whatever needs doing.  I look at my husband... rested, working, able to have time with the baby on a daily basis and still spend time with just me.  

I look at our family... and I figure we're doing alright.  We cosleep and swaddle, occasionally bedshare.  I babywear and cloth diaper, but use disposable wipes and vaccinate.  I drive our pediatrician a bit batty and insist on spreading out those vaccines so he gets one new bug at a time.  I gave up on baby baths and instead just take him into the shower with me.  I nurse on demand and let the baby nurse to sleep, rock, sing, cuddle, whatever works to get him down.  I use about a half dozen ASL signs daily for common activities, and will introduce more as he gets older.  When he goes down for the night, I lay there for the first 45 minutes to catch the first rouse cycle and soothe him back down if necessary so that he will sleep through the night.  I could go on like that all day, but the short version is... it's working, and I'm going to continue doing everything that works until it doesn't, at which point I will try other things until I find the new thing that works.  If I ever write a parenting book, it's gonna be...

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