Elizabeth (greyautumnrain) wrote,

Coping Strategies

A couple of weeks ago Warren and I were talking about parenting and such and he made a comment to the effect that readers of my blog may think that I found parenting all bliss and joy, with the fact that there is some work involved mentioned as a brief footnote. If this is your impression, I think I should perhaps correct it and mention that behind the scenes there is a whole lot of coping going on.

Babies are a lot of work. If you are surprised by this notion you have not been reading very many mommy blogs. Also, babies can’t talk very well, so communication is limited and it makes it hard to fathom what they want, even if it’s something simple. Babies are unaware of certain conventions that the rest of us take for granted, further muddying the waters. The combination can be exceedingly frustrating for both the baby and the parent. For example, I would be willing to read Goodnight Moon to Margaret a dozen times in a row. She loves the book, and she especially loves the books protagonist, the red balloon. (If you think the protagonist is the little bunny saying goodnight you are suffering from a delusion.) The problem is, after the first reading or two she clearly wants me to continue reading, but not at all in anything resembling the order the author has written the book in, and my psychic powers fail me and it can be deeply frustrating if I am low on food and/or sleep. She wants me to read to her, and I want to do it, but she is not letting me read more than a word or two at a time and not in an order that makes any sense to my poor, befuddled adult brain, and she becomes upset because I am not doing what she wants me to do, much as I’d like to.

Then there is the while night time issue. Margaret still does not sleep through the night. It has been getting better in a gradual, non-linear sort of way, and in general I am OK with that, especially since most nights when she gets up at 4am she promptly sucks down six ounces of milk and goes back to sleep. One of my personal parenting philosophies is that you feed the baby when she’s hungry, and if she’s hungry enough for what passes for a full meal for her at 4am so be it. On the other hand, the nights when something else is bugging her and she’s constantly up (usually waking me just as I was managing to drift off), are much more frustrating. Generally I find them frustrating when there is nothing obviously wrong and she doesn’t seem to be sick. There have been times (generally around 5am) when I have been on the verge or losing my cool (or just over that verge) and Warren has had to take the baby. Thankfully those times have been less frequent now that she is older, but humans clearly pair-bond to raise their young because otherwise the young might not survive those occasional really bad nights.

Even the good days can be long and draining. Recently, mjperson commented that I never wave back when I am out and about with Margaret. I told him I never saw him. He theorized that my hat was the issue, but I think a large part of it is that I go for walks when I can no longer cope with being in the house. Our house just isn’t the sort of place you can let a baby roam free in while you do other stuff, so watching the baby can be pretty intense and boring at the same time. I leave the house for a walk when I can no longer stand being cooped up in the house with the baby and the thousand things she must not touch and the furniture that she really ought not to climb on and leap off of. This generally translates to twice a day on the weekends, and by the time I get out I am well and truly fried. I am usually also hungry as it is difficult to eat around her and nigh impossible to fix myself anything around her. So, I go for walks, long walks. If I didn’t need to return to the house to pee and feed the baby it would be tempting to spend all the daylight hours of the weekend out walking or at the playground. So if you see me out walking and I utterly fail to notice you, please do not take it personally, it’s just that my brain is that the point where it barely functions.

I tend to blog about the good stuff because it’s the stuff I want to remember. Also, as individual incidents the bad stuff doesn’t make terribly interesting stories. I certainly don’t want to complain about all the work. I knew it would be terribly hard work going in, and still I pursued parenthood more aggressively than most people have to. It is worth it. It is also very tiring, and if you had the false impression that I was some sort of super-woman-parenting-goddess this will hopefully set you straight. I am the woman who takes her baby on two hour walks because it’s the only way I’ve found to keep her quiet for any length of time without losing my marbles.

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