Friday, January 11, 2008

Redefining Success

I had planned to write a light-hearted post about some odd search terms that have shown up in my logs. But today kicked my butt, so I think I want to write about that, instead.

Right now, I have every other Friday off from work. I usually keep Pumpkin home from day care, although sometimes I will send her in for the morning and catch up on whatever I'm most behind on- sleep or my chores. Today was a "free Friday", and I kept Pumpkin with me. I had big plans for the day: we'd go to my old breastfeeding support group, and we'd play, and take an awake walk in the afternoon. During her naps, I'd write the aforementioned light-hearted blog post and either nap myself or work on organizing our office.

I hear the experienced Mommies out there laughing. Of course, this is not what happened at all. We got off to a good start- she woke up at 6 a.m. She usually gets ready for her first nap approximately two hours after waking up, so I figured we were on track: she'd go down for her nap between 8 and 8:30, and wake up in time for me to go to support group. (More laughter from the experienced Mommies out there.) She got tired at 8 a.m., but she absolutely refused to go down for her nap. I tried the "read her to sleep" method my Mom used when she was here, but all that did was make me sick of Max's First Word, a book I actually rather like. I tried Hubby's " stick her in her bouncy chair and bounce her to sleep, nevermind the occasional protest" method. She didn't just protest, she screamed and arched her back in an impressive back bend. I tried my old "bounce/rock/plead her to sleep method", but all she wanted to do was pull my hair. Actually, this was what she wanted to do during the other two methods, too. (I hear you say: "So let her pull your hair until she falls asleep", to which I reply "She pulls too hard." Yes, I got through labor and the painful nipples of early breastfeeding, but can't stand to have my hair pulled.)

Finally, at 9 a.m., I put her in her car seat and took her for a drive. She was asleep in about 5 minutes, and as long as I kept driving, she stayed that way. I drove around until 10 a.m., when it was time for support group. I always feel fairly guilty about using the car as a giant pacifier, but at least I had the Prius today. I think I used less than a gallon of gas. This would have sucked a lot less if I'd liked the program on NPR at this time a little more.

We went to support group, where she was universally admired as a beautiful and happy baby. Most people comment on either her big blue eyes or how happy she is when they meet her. I always smile and say thanks, but I can't help but think that it is a bit ironic that a baby who an hour or two earlier was screaming at me and pulling my hair rather than go to sleep is considered so happy. Support group was fun, I caught up with some old friends, and was glad I went. But I stayed too long, and she fell asleep in the car on the way home. This may or may not be the reason that her afternoon nap also required motion.

We ate lunch, played a bit, and then she started acting tired again. So I started the naptime routine again. Again, no dice. I tried for an hour and a half this time, and then finally gave up and took her for a long walk. I strolled around the neighborhood feeling like an abject failure, laughing at myself for having just written a post about how going back to work had made me feel competent again. I certainly didn't feel competent. I felt like a loser Mom who should just leave her baby in day care because they are clearly better able to care for her. I seriously considered giving up my free Fridays, and that made me feel worse. What sort of Mom can't even handle one day alone with her baby every two weeks?

Luckily, when we got home and she woke up from her nap (because she was no longer moving), she was cute and loving and playful. We played peek-a-boo, and hide and seek, and "So Big", which she has modified to include flopping over in my lap so that her head hangs upside down after the "Soooo Big!" part (during this game I discovered that she has a new tooth coming in- one of her two front teeth). She snuggled and looked at books, and then she knocked my block towers over and took her plastic stacking rings off of their pole. In short she was a perfect little baby.

Once again, I had failed to appreciate the lessons in acceptance that Pumpkin was teaching me. I felt like a failure because I had expectations for how Pumpkin should sleep, so that I could do things But of course, my Fridays free aren't supposed to be about doing things. They are supposed to be about spending time with Pumpkin, which I had in fact succeeded in doing. If she needs me to walk her for her nap, so what? I need the exercise, and it was a beautiful day (a fact that my Hubby, the born Zen master, pointed out when I called him in a tizzy during the afternoon nap refusal).

I don't think I'll send Pumpkin to day care instead of keeping her home for our Fridays free, afterall. However, if I could find someone who was willing to come in and bounce her down for her naps, I'd be sorely tempted....


  1. I drove myself crazy with the shoulds around naptime for seven months. But is it any wonder when you look at the vast quantity of mothering manuals out there? And how motherhood seems to be very much in the public domain? (I can't tell you the number of times I was told by other people, total strangers, how to care for swee'pea - he needs water or a bottle or blah blah blah.)

    I'll stop ranting but I seriously think we're set up to *feel* like failures...

  2. Thanks, cinnamon gurl! I always tell new moms to lie about how well their baby is sleeping and try not to worry about it, since worrying won't make anything better.

    Now, if only I could take my own advice...

  3. I've totally had these days! I've decided that if the Pumpkin won't nap, then oh well. I'm not spending an hour or more to get her to get her to sleep for maybe 10 minutes. What a waste of a day, and I feel whatever the opposite of zen is! So, I'll be zen and let her sleep if she wants or stay up and play until she's too tired.

    It's usually teething anyway!

    I also always get the "wow, she's so good and happy." and "does she ever cry?" I always respond that they should come over around 3 in the morning and see what she's like then!

    I hope you are able to find your zen and enjoy your time with her, whether or not she naps. Oh, and it sounds like you need to re-read some of the nap posts on Ask Moxie! hehe.


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