Tag Archives: attachment parenting

One Thing To Rule Them All

I had planned to blog last week during our holiday. Not cause I have to. Because I really want to.

I envisioned myself writing deep thoughts about God and life in my brand new notebook as our mini-van winds its way through the Rocky Mountains. Or perhaps curled up with a pen and paper in front of the fireplace, trying to recapture the hilarity and wonder of a new family adventure. At the very least, I would have time, away from chores and telephones and teetering piles of laundry, to polish up one of the many half-finished posts in my drafts folder.

But no more whiney posts about parenting. Not again. I’ve done way too much of that.

This holiday week was chock-full of inspiration.

  • Easter week… bringing one of the greatest showdowns of these modern times – Jesus Christ vs. Chocolate. Who will capture the heart of our generation?
  • The Rocky Mountains – my very favourite place ON EARTH. Ten thousand Japanese tourists can’t be wrong.
  • Spending time, real memory-making, road trip taking, in each other’s pockets until you want to scream, time as a family.
  • Glen’s Grandma’s 90th birthday – bringing in cousins and uncles and one incredibly beloved nephew from far and wide; showing off our new addition for the first time; celebrating a woman who isn’t Great because of her many years on earth, but because of who she is and how she loves.
  • Finally introducing the boy to MY Grandma (clearly we have an embarrassment of riches in the Great-Grandma department) – by the time we left he had decided she was his favourite adult, ignoring the rest of us and dragging her away when the rest of us tried to talk to her.
  • My brother-in-law changed his FaceBook profile picture to a red equal sign (the internet is awash in the gay rights and the bible debate). I wanted to “like” it, but I wanted to explain that to everyone who might not understand why I do.

So I started about a dozen different posts, in my head and on paper. I tried. I really did. To write something touching or eloquent or provocative or even readable.

But the voice in my head sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Wah-wa-wah-wa-wah.

I was defeated by the one thing that trumps inspiration. It puts basic intelligence in a headlock and flushes all my emotional energy right down the toilet. It squeezes my physical body like a dish rag, until I am literally begging for relief. It is the one thing that rules them all.

Sleep.

Specifically, a desperate lack of sleep.

430amThe boy has discovered that he can escape his play pen at nap and bedtime. So he does. Over and over and over again. Apparently, this is so much more fun than actually sleeping. He cruises right past tired (which is a sweet time of eye rubbing and snuggling and big yawns) right into over-tired (which involves frantic hyperactivity, screeching at the top of his lungs and dramatic tantrums).

We tried everything. Rocking, singing, cuddling, co-sleeping, absolute quiet, ignoring him, gentle discipline, cough syrup, putting him down early, staying up late, skipping nap, liquid melatonin, begging, yelling, praying… we asked for ideas on Facebook. We even drove into the city to buy a tent to put over his playpen (which he broke in about 5 minutes). In the end, we spent hours and hours holding him in his bed until he fell asleep. Every nap. And every bedtime.

One night we played this game until 4:30 am. By that time, both he and I were crying.

I am barely human after 3 am.

Naturally, he wakes up at 7 am. Every morning. No matter what.

This changed the trajectory of our family holiday. Glen and I barely saw each other. I barely had time to shower, much less think or write or create. We didn’t tackle nearly as many activities as we had planned. We weren’t as witty or interesting or wow-look-how-cool-they-still-are-even-though-they-have-such-a-chaotic-brood-of-children as we had planned.

I’m not going to lie. These are the times I wonder… what have we gotten ourselves into? I’m not nearly as calm and patient and put-together as I hoped I’d be. I’m not the Mom I should be. I rely on DVDs and iPhone games and counting down the minutes until nap time.

And the selfish part of me resents all those people relaxing in the Banff Hot Springs while we usher two screaming, poopy children back out after the least relaxing 3 minutes of our day. And I wonder if I’ll ever finish a conversation at a family gathering without darting away to rescue someone’s purse or flower arrangement or too-close-to-the-edge-of-the-table drink. And I’m tired. So incredibly tired. All the time.

But.

And here’s the part that matters, even though it’s not all that touching or eloquent or provocative.

For every miserable, smelly, irritating, exhausting challenge they bring into our life, there is a heart warming, sweet, wonderful, life affirming moment that makes it all worthwhile.

At 4:30 am, I cried tears of frustration as the boy screamed and fussed. In his thrashing he managed to twist himself out of my arms and smash his head against the wall on the way down. The sound just makes me feel sick. It was a low point.

He immediately stopped screaming and fighting and scrambled into my arms. “Mama! Mama! Mama!” Rubbing his face into my neck while I checked for a lump and kissed it better. He stroked my hair and wrapped his legs around my waist and his eyes finally, FINALLY closed.

I guess I’m easy to please. Because that little cuddle made the whole wretched night worth it.

He’s still my favourite boy in the whole world.

So here’s us, home to recover from our “vacation” and not a moment too soon.

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Best Parenting Advice Ever!

I have a stock of standard “things to say” when its my turn to sign the card.

Yearbook/Retirement: It was great getting to know you. Have a wonderful summer!

Birthday: I’m glad you were born. I hope you have a wonderful day! (pretty much the long version of “Happy Birthday”, but if you write really big, it takes up a lot more space)

Wedding: Marriage is awesome! Enjoy each other! (yes I realize this one sounds a bit smarmy, but hey, it’s honeymoon time)

Get well: Hang in there friend. We’re praying for you! (I may substitute buddy or kiddo if this is for a child – it’s so versatile)

These hallmark-ish sentiments have saved me time, and let’s face it, valuable brain space. Occasionally I am inspired and write an epistle, but most often, I’m just glad to pass the card on to the next person.

My New Baby comments have evolved over the years as I move through those necessary parenting phases: panicked, smug, overwhelmed, resigned, what-on-earth-is-that-up-your-nose, et cetera. These days I find myself parroting the advice my mom has always given. We’ll call this the “guess-she-sort-of-knew-what-she-was-talking-about-after-all” phase.

Trust your instincts.

It seemed like kind of a cop out to me, you know, back in the day when I knew so much. I mean, I had Formal Training in early childhood education, I had absorbed Scientific Knowledge, I had learned Godly Techniques… surely there was a right way to do every little thing and I was bound and determined to find it.

I have books on breast-feeding, potty training, sleep training, attachment parenting, public schools, homeschooling, un-schooling, sex talks, purity retreats, unplugging, becoming media-wise, healthy food, cheap food, freezing food and even food related crafts. I’ve read everything from Baby Wise to The Baby Whisperer, and a few times through the bible. I have gone to seminars, conferences, and retreats. I have surfed the internet, read blogs and listened to podcasts; WebMD is my home away from home. I’ve even gone back to school and studied Developmental Psychology.

I am constantly learning something new about parenting. Some of it is crap. Some of it works. Some of it just doesn’t feel right, even though it works.

And I find myself coming back to my Mom’s advice again and again. Despite having bottle fed me and put me to sleep ON MY STOMACH (*gasp of shock and horror*), she did a great job! Even without all these Important Resources.

Last week I was asked to give the talk at a church baby shower. I was psyched, because this little person is a long awaited miracle and it’s just so cool that he is here. I was also a little intimidated since my “expert” parenting advice would be presented to a group of friends who might be sitting behind us next week while I hiss cease and desist warnings to my girls who are attempting to irritate each other to death, while B has her finger deeply embedded in her nose, while I wipe breakfast off their faces with my thumb and little bit of spit (they LOVE that)… basically while my family makes it clear to all that I am not really an expert after all.

So I fell back on this, the best parenting advice I have ever gotten.

Trust your instincts.

God entrusted this child to Your care; no one knows them like you do. God gave you instincts, intuition, insights, even slightly less-than-scientific “gut feelings”. And God promises wisdom if you faithfully ask.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,

who gives generously to all without finding fault,

and it will be given to you.

James 1:5

There are some for whom these instincts do not come naturally. Perhaps due to a difficult childhood, or other personal issues. They may need to develop and hone their instincts. You can LEARN to be a responsive parent.

Pray. Talk to other moms. Research. Find out what is healthy and safe. Read, read, read… It all helps. And it is important. But in the end, YOU discern what is best for your family.

Trust your instincts.

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. But there are many amazing, loving, and succesful parents out there, and they do not all fit into the same mold.

Each of my children have different needs. I have my own set of strengths and weaknesses. The circumstances of life change frequently. Our family has distinct values and priorities. We don’t fit into any mold.

Despite the assertions of many parenting systems, there is no single, foolproof method to “Grow Kids God’s Way”. If there were, our faith would be in a person or a formula. Instead, we trust the One who made us and put children in our care, by trusting our instincts.

So here’s me, Growing Kids Christie’s Way. Cause that’s my job.


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