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Archive for October, 2013

Lately I  have been thinking about what it means to be genuine. I have always considered myself a genuine person. I am vulnerable with my struggles and try to always give an honest answer. The difficult part of being genuine is that even when you are true to yourself in that moment, it is possible for that part of you to change.

Many times when a conflict happens or something that is shocking, it takes me at least a few days to process it. I have spent months processing something before. I also have a really difficult time saying what I am thinking or feeling. Many times I have walked away from a conversation feeling like I mis-represented myself in trying to explain myself.  And sometimes it simply isn’t appropriate to announce your emotions right there in the moment, because emotions can be rash and unpredictable. For these reasons I have been called things like “two-faced”, and that’s OK because I understand it seems that way. And even though I am in my late twenties, I still sometimes struggle to get over the “teenage angst” of being misunderstood.

I try my best to be genuine and surround myself around others who are genuine. The truth is that “being genuine” is only as good as the moment. When we are true to ourselves we will be true to others and although the truth may change as the day turns into night, the intent behind it does not.  As true as I can be to myself is as true as I will be to you.

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”         

William Shakespeare  

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I have to start with a disclaimer. I believe parenting is very individual as every child is an individual. I also believe there should be balance in everything in life. From politics, religion, lifestyle all the way to parenting, there is no black and white. What I say here is personally for my child, no one else’s. I do not have a masters in psychology, nor have I been doing this parent thing for very long.

Before I knew there were official styles of parenting, I knew that I didn’t feel comfortable letting my baby fall asleep crying.  The more I learned about things like “the crying out method” and “attachment parenting” also known as “AP” or “natural parenting”, the more I learned I leaned towards attachment. I like baby wearing, breastfeeding, baby on his own schedule, I didn’t like the idea of my baby falling asleep to his own tears, I was not so sure about co-sleeping. I believed the crying out method played a role in SIDS. That being said, I also heard from many many AP parents that their children have trouble sleeping (even as they grow older) and they also struggled with extreme separation anxiety.  I still lean very towards attachment/natural parenting. I have one problem. My baby doesn’t sleep. Ever.

The one question I get asked the most as a first-time parent is “does your baby sleep through the night?” I have even been known to ask this question to other parents. People are curious. But when I shyly respond with “my baby (7.5 months now) sleeps between 40 minutes to 2 hours at a time every night” their jaw drops. They say, “You must be exhausted”. Well, I am and I am not. I have absolutely no issues with waking up every 2 hours, especially when my baby falls back asleep within 15 minutes and I can go back to my slumber. If it were an exact science, night would be bliss. It isn’t. Some nights he won’t sleep in his crib. At all. Some nights he sleeps for 40 minutes, I put him down, 40 minutes, I put him down, and so on.  Some nights he sleeps for 2 hours. Some nights I throw my hands in the air and bring him into bed with me. Mostly it is a combination of everything.

A couple days before my baby was born I remember telling my sister, who was researching it at the time, that I would never ever co-sleep with my baby. I felt it was dangerous, unnecessary, and ridiculous. Then at 4 months old “sleep regression” hit. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. I was lucky enough to have read about it on Lucie’s List, a blog that I couldn’t survive without. Then he was teething. Then he got sick. Then I thought he had an ear infection (he didn’t). Then I thought he was teething again. The absolute only way I could sleep and he could sleep was to sleep together. In fact, from what I have heard this isn’t uncommon with attachment parenting.

I know there are ways to sleep train that do not involve “crying it out”. I have asked other parents what they do, I have read all the stuff there is to read on it. I just could not get comfortable with any of them. I tried my own variations of the methods, but sleep-deprived and doing it mostly alone (daddy works very very early) is a great recipe for “I’ll try it another night”. But another night comes and goes and next thing I know I have an almost 8 month old who can’t sleep without me in some way. There are plenty of nights that I hopelessly bring the baby into the bedroom because he won’t stay asleep if I put him down or if he does it isn’t for very long. We have a routine but I am so unsure of what might work that it varies slightly every so often. I have even resorted to just putting him in his crib and letting him try to fall asleep on his own. I have ventured into the realm of “crying it out” and I have always always regretted it. The regret isn’t because I can’t hear my baby cry, of course that’s not fun, but babies cry. At 4 months old my son started throwing temper tantrums when I would take something away that he wanted. But I’m the parent and I know it isn’t the best for him (he isn’t playing with chemicals or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking). The point is, I know I will be hearing my son cry a lot, for many different reasons. I know I will not always be there nor should I always “do whatever it takes” to get him to stop. He will learn that “no is no” and he will have to learn about patience and discipline (not talking about punishment here) is a key to being a respectful human being. The crying I do not feel comfortable with is him crying himself to sleep. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep? I have. and I never felt right when I woke up. Then on top of that you’ve got a developing baby who doesn’t quite understand his emotions or, heck, that his feet are attached to his body.  He is figuring out the world. I do not want him to feel that nights are scary. Being all alone in his crib in the dark while he is crying and no one is coming to comfort him is scary. Because I fully believe that babies have an emotional memory, and while their mind won’t actually remember the specifics or details of the situation, their emotions will.

But then I question the sleep portion of the attachment parent theory. I don’t really believe it is healthy (for either party) to always be sleeping with your parents. I do believe that everyone needs something to help them fall asleep. Nobody goes straight to bed, turns off the light and falls peacefully asleep without some sort of assistance or routine.

The most success I have had yet was when I stopped worrying about what everybody else was saying and instead I listened to my baby. My baby was telling me he needed an earlier bedtime, wind-down time before night-time routine, and more of daddy.

We are still working on that sleep thing, but right now I will consider each small step a victory and I will tune in to what my baby is so desperately trying to tell me. Sometimes our kids are the best teachers.

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I’m in a place right now that is filled with anger, doubt, and sadness. If I am being really honest then I would say most of these negative feelings are directed towards the people who are (or rather aren’t) in my life. I feel let down. I feel lonely. My thoughts keep shifting towards moving back home, even though I didn’t think I would ever feel that way again. This season always brings a little bit of nostalgia with it. Most of the people I have met here have revealed that our relationship isn’t more than just a fling, and I yearn for a place where I can have an authentic community. If I can’t have an authentic community then I should be around family, at least. Where I am now feels void.  I love the time of life we are in, but not the place. I am desperate for connection, for meaning, for relationships that don’t start with “Sorry, I’ve been really busy”.

For some reason this song stand out to me:

Shifting Sand
by Caedmon’s Call

Sometimes I believe all the lies
So I can do the things I should despise
And everyday I am swayed
By whatever is on my mind

I hear it all depends on my faith
So I’m feeling precarious
The only problem I have with these mysteries
Is they’re so mysterious

And like a consumer I’ve been thinking
If I could just get a bit more
More than my fifteen minutes of faith
Then I’d be secure

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

I’ve begged you for some proof
For my Thomas eyes to see
A slithering staff, a leprous hand
And lions resting lazily

A glimpse of your back-side glory
And this soaked altar going ablaze
But you know I’ve seen so much
And I explained it away

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

Waters rose as my doubts reigned
My sand-castle faith it slipped away
Found myself standing on your grace
It’d been there all the time

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

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