Monday, April 22, 2013

I Gave Birth To A Tiny Old Man

Oliver is quite the persnickety fellow; I may have mentioned this before. He's happy as a clam most often, and even when things don't go his way, as long as we catch his attention with something else to play with, listen to, watch, eat, or enjoy he tends to come back to being a clammy little guy. But, as with most people, when he’s feeling misunderstood or slighted in some way, he expresses…distate. We’ve been working on the most polite and succinct way to say pardon me, Mama, but maybe I wasn’t clear in expressing how dearly I love crawling away from you/harrassing the books and movies/not wearing pants/chewing on this ____, but somehow it’s just not taking. So, while he creates an effective script, his father and I are tasked with keeping him in that clammishly happy state. Sometimes that means our lives are not exactly how we pictured they might be.

Oliver has, since birth, been able to play by himself, and not worry when I would leave the room. Although there was a period of time when that happened, and during this stage of leaving 9 months and entering a new chapter, it has dissipated into a very distant and "cute" memory. We never left him to cry it out by himself. If he was going to cry then we would rather him do it on or with one of us, so that he would never need to know the difference. My goal was to chill the kid out, not convince him that I’d run off and he may as well rest up for the long life of orphancy ahead.
It came down to this: Having a baby is sort of like a surprise party in your honor where the guest list changes every time you go to the bathroom. It’s the time of your life one minute, but, two minutes later, the room is full of drunk cousins, old roommates who skipped out on rent and the waitress you suspected of spitting in your salad that time you sent it back twice. The secret: just don’t go to the bathroom! I finally figured out that if I had a good thing going, I needed to cling to it, not try my luck at a little bit better. Adjust the view I’d gotten from god knows where that babies do a series of things in one way, in one order, and accept that babies are simply small people with preferences, fears, likes and dislikes and changing moods just like the rest of us.After the revelation that Oliver was not going to bend to my will, nor should he, we started unapologetically putting him to bed when we went — 9, 11, sometimes even later — and he would sleep until eleven or noon. I (for the most part) stopped feeling like there was a goal, however far off, of sleeping separately, "co sleeping". I knocked out these terms that seem to be so popular with moms these days and embraced the status quo because we have generally all been very happy and comfortable with our arrangement. Oliver sleeps in his crib while he naps during the day, and when he goes to bed at night. He wakes up playing in his crib and after a while will call out to us. He rarely ever cries for us and when he does, we come to him. He knows how to get our attention, without tears. The wraps go places with us and Oliver can, when wrapped, almost invariably still be put to sleep in a matter of moments.
Oliver has two parents, one of whom is almost always with him, who can give him as much attention as he wants. The giving of attention is, as I understand it, the main “deal” with parenting. Being a present, attentive parent means that as long as my kid doesn’t understand the concept of compromise, that burden falls to me. I have to compromise as much as possible, so that when it’s time for him to give a little back, he doesn’t feel slighted. He knows that I’m there, that I respect his needs and want the best for him. That he doesn’t have emotional memories of feeling abandoned and grow resentful when I want a shower by myself or, JUST IMAGINE: a weekend girls’ trip. People ask how long I’m willing to ride this out, but Oliver has already formed what I see as a pretty secure attachment to me. Whereas two months ago, I had to literally run to and from the bathroom, keeping him in my line of vision and babbling at him like a buffoon all the while, I can now set him down some place safe, walk away and EVEN FLAT IRON MY HAIR some days without him going apeshit or being mad at me when I return. I attribute those gains to Shane’s and my willingness to take a hit for the team in the beginning.

With that said, I am excited to have made it this far with no regrets, with so much love and so much more to come. Oliver has always had such an adventurous personality, and has never truly seemed like an infant or baby, but more like a kid. Attitude, jovial, and willing to play along with Shane's and my silly games, even when you can tell he wants to do something else. All from a 9 month old! Oliver is growing quickly and right under our noses, developing his personality that I imagine will stay with him until he is old and groggy.