Lately it feels like I'm being criticized by people I love and respect. People who normally support me 100%. I know that they're probably just trying to be helpful, but it's not helping. Today I feel the need to respond. I know that some of these people read this blog. Know now that I am not upset, I just had to get this off of my chest. But first, the criticisms.
My Parenting Style
My baby does not self-soothe. She does not sleep through the night. She does not take long naps. She is still breastfeeding almost every 2 hours, but lengthens that to 3-5 hours at night. I do not let her "cry it out" and we co-sleep a lot more than either of the parents in the house would like. She doesn't last more than 2 hours during the day before getting sleepy and needing to go back to bed. She is a "snacker" at the breast and eats for less than five minutes. She rarely takes both sides. I want her to self-wean, and I also want another little one soon (assuming we can get this one sleeping a little better). We do vaccinate, but I've been bullied into doing it on the doctor's schedule instead of my own. We will not circumcise our boy. We buy organic as much as possible. I was against rice cereal until I was for it. And I'm still not actually for it. I don't want her to have juice, processed foods, or unnatural sugars in her diet. I'm not even (currently) ok with giving her a cake for her first birthday. I don't really want her to play with Barbie dolls, although I don't really see a way around this. I'd prefer if she never watched TV, but I do turn on the TV when she's in the room. She wakes up when she wants to in the morning. Lately I've tweaked that to somewhere between 6-7 am. She's ready for her first nap by 8:30.
My Wifely Duties
The house is a mess. The laundry doesn't get put away. We're lucky if it gets upstairs. Half-finished projects are everywhere. The lawn needs to be mowed, and last years' leaves are STILL out back. It's true that I have no sex drive, that my hair is cut short, that I don't put on sexy clothing in order to take care of the baby, and that I'm still carrying about 8 pounds of baby-weight. It's true that I'm more "mother" than "wife" these days.
Yes, I am a perfectionist. My five-page papers are usually more like 10-pagers. And it is important to me to four-point the one class I'm taking.
I've always been a perfectionist, and I'm just now learning how to let things slide. But it has recently felt like the moment I do give up a little on being perfect, that's the moment people make negative comments about how I'm letting things slide. And remember that paper I wrote that was a half-page too short? Well I have to rewrite it because he didn't give me a grade because it wasn't "finished" yet. So that's why I prefer to do things correctly the first time.
My hair looks good short, and it may not be sexy right now, but I honestly don't try to look sexy for my daughter, or my nephew when he comes over to play, or for the people at the grocery store, or for the other moms I get to hang out with from time to time, or for my family. I figure that these people love me for who I am on the inside and they don't need to see the gelled hair and the makeup and the big ol' boobies popping out. For your information, when Matt & I have time alone, we cuddle on the couch. And when we have a babysitter I do attempt to look pretty and sexy, and I can pull off pretty-sexy pretty well. I mean, I do have these big ol' boobies. And by-the-way, have you ever tried having longer hair that needs to be blow-dried, moussed, curled, etc in a bathroom this small? Dear most-recent-person-to-criticize-my-looks: I happen to know that you once said that you could never date a woman who put lotion on. So why in the world are you bringing up the fact that I don't go all-out every single day? Also, I'm lucky if I get a shower before the girl wakes up or becomes sick of playing in her high chair. Forget doing the hair and makeup.
Speaking of the baby waking up and the things I can't do because she doesn't nap: I know I have an elliptical machine in my basement. No I haven't used it in a couple of weeks. But I'm still losing weight, so suck it. I've lost 20 pounds of baby-weight since the girl was born. (Yes, some of that was the girl, but it still counts.) It's not like I can go put her in daycare and work out for a couple hours every day. It's not like I'd want to. When she's asleep, I have to figure out how to balance my time. It usually goes like this: food, sleep, homework, housework, workout. Or, depending on my motivation, the last two are switched. And if I have a deadline looming, I usually do homework before I take a nap. In reality, I'm lucky if I make it to sleep before she wakes up. The other day it went like this: put baby down, start laundry, have lunch, go get screaming baby. That was a 25-minute nap. So, no, I don't work out. And yes, I am still carrying baby-weight. I think it's really unrealistic of people to expect that moms lose the weight in less than a year. Because you also expect us to take care of our children, work outside the home, work inside the home, cook meals for the family, do the grocery shopping, and have a personal life.
As for our parenting. First of all, it's not like I have a ton of experience doing this. And it's not like I had any two-parent role models growing up. So I'm - we're - doing the best we can. It's important for us that the baby doesn't cry. For those of you who say that it's the only way a baby can communicate, I say bullshit. You've obviously never spent much time with a happy baby. They communicate just fine without crying. And then when they cry, you know something's wrong and you deal with it. And yes, I've spoiled her by holding her and sleeping with her and I'm reaping what I've sown there. But I honestly don't believe you can spoil a baby. So really, I've just dug myself a hole and now I'm working on filling it back in. And since we don't believe in crying it out, it is a slow process. Some days I feel like we/I/she makes a lot of progress. Other days I feel that we've taken about ten steps back. When we visit other people, or when people visit us, or when she's a someone else's house being watched, her whole life is out of whack. So those days are the worst. And that's what you see. And then the next couple of days are difficult too because babies take a while to get back into a routine.
Here's the thing: All the fixes stem from all the other fixes. So you can either do one thing at a time or a bunch of things at once, but either way, it's taken 7 months for us to create this girl and her issues, and it certainly will take longer than one night to alter them. I understand that most of the time. And as I said, we're making progress. (For example, she's currently been sleeping for 2 hours. This is magical.) There are a lot of things (codeword for problems/issues/habits) that I/we/I have created. And there are a lot of things that are just my girl's personality. She is a distracted eater and will always be a snacker. We have started introducing solids but sometimes her tummy can't handle all that extra stuff and she gets constipated and pissy. So sometimes we need to slow down on that, which means yes she's still waking up at night. I am ok with this. And what I'm not ok with, we're working on.
Basically, what I'm saying is: Unless I specifically ask you for parenting advice, please do not offer any, or criticize how we're raising Emma. You and I both know that aside from the sleeping thing, she's an amazing little girl. And if we're being honest, I'd say about 99% of babies have sleeping issues. That's because they're babies. So I think she's perfect. And we're doing just fine.