Thursday, October 26, 2006

On (Not) Cleaning and (Not) Sleeping

So I realized today that, since having my second baby, I don't really clean anymore. Do laundry, yes, almost daily. Cook, naturally. Clean when company is coming to stay over? Yes. But actually engage in housecleaning chores for the general upkeep of our home? Like dust, scrub the kitchen counters/appliances, clean the toilets, tubs, and vanities, Swiff the floors? Oh my god, mop??? On anything resembling a regular basis--that is, with the frequency I used to do such things when I only had Julia to take care of? Um, no. No, no, no, no, no.

This realization came to me because I was at playgroup with two other mom friends, and the conversation turned to that holy grail, the simultaneous nap. You know, when BOTH babies are napping at the SAME TIME. The other two moms were comparing notes on their respective systems for getting the bathrooms cleaned when this fabulous occurrence takes place.

Well, people, both of my babies are napping right now (after a particularly hellish post-playgroup lunch at home, involving all manner of meltdown and tantrum over things like the wrong color sippy cup, the spilled water from the sippy cup, the chicken touching the rice, etc. etc. etc., and ending with both babies screaming, water all over the table, chair, and floor, and a spoonful of cheesy broccoli flung onto the carpet. But that's another story. Right?), and guess what I am doing? Not scrubbing my toilets, I'll tell you that much. And I'll tell you something else. When my babies are both napping, I NEVER scrub the toilets. OK? Never.

And as long as we're ranting and feeling particularly cantankerous (did that cranky toddler rub off on me?), let me just mention that the other topic of conversation that came up at playgroup was that of sleep and schedules, seeing as how we all have babies between two and five months old in addition to our toddlers. Now, I truly love these women; they are my new--and only--friends in our new(ish) town, and they are smart, funny, and kind. But people, if I never, ever have another conversation about sleep (training) with another parent ever again it will be too soon. OK? Listen: no more talking about how your baby has slept through the night on her own since she was seven weeks old. No more comments about how you've already put your infant on a schedule, she naps three times a day, and actually goes to bed in the evening. (To BED. LIKE AN ADULT.) No more about Ferber vs. Weissbluth vs. Sears vs. Pantley, and when we're all supposed to be starting all this stuff--nine weeks? twelve? fifteen? a long time ago, and you've already missed the boat, you fool?

No. Don't want to hear it. Am sick to death of it. Figured it all out eventually with my first baby, using a book or two and a great deal of intuition, and it worked for us then. Was all unconcerned about it with my second baby, figuring that the great thing about being a secondtime mom is that you don't worry about all that craziness anymore; you don't read every book like a religion and freak out over every tiny bit of conflicting advice, you just shrug and go, Whatever, she'll put herself on a schedule soon, she'll stop night-nursing so often soon, and if not, well, we've done it before, we can give her a few nudges at about six months old or so when we feel like she's ready.

Until the dreaded playgroup sleep conversation. Now I have to fight myself to re-orient my parenting world-view back toward one of reason and calm. Because, while I am a definite fan of the general idea of schedules, sleep routines, and a very early baby bedtime, and while parts of one very well-known sleep book helped us quite a bit when it came time to teach Julia to put herself to sleep at night without nursing, my internal wise-woman also knows that in real life, every baby is different, every family is different, and that when your experienced mother brain tells you to relax, enjoy your second baby, go with the flow a little more this time around and know that sleep will come in time, even if you don't "train" your two-month-old to nap only at 9, 1, and 4 and to go to bed for the night at 7 (and if sleep doesn't come, well, you've so been there and could probably write your own book about what to do then), well, you LISTEN. Because what good is being--at last--an experienced mom if you don't let yourself enjoy the contentment of trusting your own instincts this time?

And you know, people, speaking of sleep, the roofers are making their way down our street, one townhouse cluster at a time, repairing the colossal hail damage from the epic storm here in August, pounding and hammering and throwing shingles on the ground, and sooner or later, they are going to come to our house, and for ten hours a day they're going to be making that clatter above OUR heads, on OUR roof, just feet above OUR babies' (non-) napping heads, for several days in a row, and people, when that happens, no one is going to be sleeping. Ever. And the meltdowns are not going to be confined to the two-year-old.

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