Saturday, May 9, 2015

I Don't Want What the Other Moms Want for Mother's Day

This week I've seen a number of posts about what mother's "really want" for Mother's Day.  The themes are generally the same:

No cooking:

No Cleaning:

No Changing Diapers:

More Sleep:

And while I do want all of those things too, and part of me wants to relate to those posts and share them with gusto proclaiming "yeah - this is what we really want! Amirite ladies??!?"

I just can't.

Why? Because my  my husband already does these things.

He cooks and cleans more than I do. He probably does 70% of the housework to my 30%.   (Okay - it's really 80/20) And while I haven't actually kept count on a macro scale my husband has most likely changed more dirty diapers than I have to date as well.  (I  do keep track of whose turn it is during any given day - don't we all?)  Plus he gets up with FrenchFry and lets me sleep in well past what most would think a reasonable hour at least one morning each weekend.  Often he will take FrenchFry for a long walk or to the grocery store so I can get up and spend time on the computer in peace while drinking my first cup of coffee too.  And speaking of the grocery store - I barely see the inside of one as he does the bulk of the shopping for the family as well. 

I'm living the dream, Folks.  Every day is Mother's Day for me.

Or at least, every day is the day that all of these posts are saying that moms want for Mother's Day.  It doesn't mean my life is all sunshine and rainbows and that it's not still hard to be a mom even with a husband who does so much.  Being a parent is hard no matter how much of the housework/diapering/cooking you do.  I still need acknowledgement this Sunday and maybe a little pampering or time for that "self care" I'm supposed to be doing.

And this may just be me justifying how unbalanced those things can be in our house but I do work longer hours than my husband (we both work full time).  Even after working late, it's a common occurrence for me to have to log onto my work computer after FrenchFry goes to bed a few nights a week (and on the weekends).  Plus I am the one that keeps the lights on and makes sure we have insurance and bills paid because I take care of our household paperwork and finances. 

I've also been giving myself (quite literally) in other ways that my husband has not with pregnancy and then nursing combined for three years now.  And because I was breastfeeding, I did the lion's share of the nighttime parenting - getting up with FrenchFry every night for two years.  (My husband did get up plenty those first months as well but at a certain point it made sense for me to get up solo for nighttime feedings.) And I also know there are things that I give to my son - things that I feel are very important like a strong show of patience, empathy and understanding.  My husband is also a wonderful, caring and responsive parent, but we show empathy in different ways. 

I am so grateful for my wonderful husband and all that he does for me and our little family.  I do think we balance each other out, and while there are ways in which he carries a heavier load than me, there are ways in which I believe I do as well.  Based on the posts I'm seeing this week, there are still many mothers out there who may still be taking on a greater load of the household and parenting than they would like.  

Maybe there is balance in those relationships too and the lists of the things that moms don't want this Sunday doesn't mean that those moms are stuck with more of the household and parenting necessarily.  Maybe we all just need a break from these things from time to time and Mother's Day is a good day to ask for that.  Though from talking to people and just the sheer volume of those types of posts - it makes me suspect that there is still a lot of imbalance out there.  I don't suspect we will see tons of posts from men asking for the day off from cooking, cleaning and diapering next month of Father's Day.  It's just a hunch.

A guy at work recently told me - after I threatened to explain to him with full detail on what pumping at work is all about and why YES, we do need a room dedicated for that in our offices - that he told his wife that he'd get involved once each of his kids turned two and a half.  Until that point, they were all hers.  And while he's clearly on the total asshat end of the spectrum when it comes to supportive husbands and fathers it is stories like this that make me thank my lucky stars for my partner in this whole parenting thing.

Mother's Day gets a lot of attention and drives a lot of commerce but based on the numerous posts I've seen recently, it seems like there is still a lot of work to be done to support and share the load for many mothers throughout the year. 

And for me, I'll just take some quality time with my family and my own mother to celebrate Mother's Day.  And maybe some chocolate.  :-)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sleep... Glorious Sleep. Are We Ready To Give it Up So Soon?

FrenchFry (2 year old) has now slept through the night in his own toddler bed for enough nights in a row that I feel like I can publicize this without jinxing it.  Of course with that sentence I've probably just guaranteed myself at least a few rough nights, but I'm willing to take the chance.  (Dangerous words of an overly confident mom.)

Sleep... glorious sleep.

Two years ago my instincts told me to get up with my son (4 months old at the time) with each cry.  It was around 2 months old that I stopped getting up with each tiny whimper but, anything beyond that, I continued to get up to check on him and comfort him.  That usually meant nursing him for 45 minutes to an hour for the first year, though eventually that became just 30, then 15, then 5 minutes of nursing and he was back to sleep.  It's hard to remember specifics because life with an infant can be  especially blurry when trying to remember the haze of middle of the night parenting.

I know I began the process of night weaning him about 2 and a half months ago because I wrote about it here.  And I was feeling pretty confident when I wrote this a few weeks ago to let other parents know that you won't ruin them forever if you nurse, rock, etc. to sleep.  And now here we are - FrenchFry sleeps in his bed all night long and I got there without having to follow any "methods."

Instead... I just followed my instincts.

Through the last 2.25 years I have second guessed myself a lot when it came to FrenchFry's sleep.  In my heart I always felt that if I waited long enough, eventually he would be sleeping through the night and in his own bed.  And guess what?  It actually worked!  I wish I could go back to the me of 2 years ago - the first time mom of a 4 month old - and let her know that she doesn't have to doubt herself and it is going to work out like she thinks and hopes it will and take away the kernel of doubt that was always there... especially when the advice of the "experts" seemed to contradict my own instincts and approach.

Someone ALWAYS has their advice... sigh.

As my husband and I think about whether or not we are ready to try for another child, I know one of his biggest concerns is going back to that really hard place of having a newborn... to sleepless nights and a crying infant.  But I really think this time will be different.  I mean, I KNOW it will be different because every child is different but also because WE are different now.  We know how things can turn out.  We've been through to the other side and we have seen that you can (and will) get there one day.

One of the hardest things about those sleepless nights is that you don't know if you're going to get through it.  You don't know if you are ruining them for ever (spoiler alert: you're not)... especially when you hear advice from friends, coworkers, strangers, the Internet that tell you that you are doing it wrong. That the choices you are making will keep your child from ever sleeping through the night or in their own bed.  That they will never be able to fall asleep on their own (presumably there are millions of adults out there right now who can't fall asleep unless their roommates or spouses rock them to sleep because their parents did that for them as infants and toddlers).

I'm sure if we do have another child and I'm up at 3am (after having been up at 11pm and 1am as well) and at my wit's end I will remember how naive I was to think that the worst part was the not knowing... when the worst part is probably the torturous lack of sleep and the feeling of helplessness in the moment.  But I suspect that maybe next time will be different.  That I can cling to the fact that things did get better with FrenchFry so they are likely to do the same with the next child. 

Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself so I feel ready to make the plunge into having another child.  In some ways it seems like this new development of actually getting consistent sleep is the best reason not to jump into life with a newborn again!  Maybe it's just like getting a tattoo or giving birth where you forget what it was really like once you get far enough from it.

Or maybe it really will be different next time.

Are these well rested parents ready to give that up so soon?

If you're still in the trenches with infant sleep - just remember that it's okay to trust your instincts because it can and will get better!  

If you have had more than one child, did it get easier the second time around?