Singly Asked Questions

I haven’t got as far as an FAQ list yet, but a couple of my commentators have now provided me with SAQs.

Firstly, from my sister, a salient point:

I’m all for it (your blogging more, and less perfectly if that’s what
it takes) but baffled by the idea that you should have more of an
imperative to be perfect in blogging than in motherhood. A blog on that
please?

Well, one has to have ones priorities right…

Seriously, I suppose it’s because of the difference between a blog and a child.  A blog is an object.  Well, a virtual sort of object, but still an object.  It consists entirely of my own thoughts as transmitted to the world through my own articulacy skills.  (Well, all right, I suppose the software from those nice people over at Typepad plays a role, but you know what I mean.)  Any imperfections in that are entirely mine – an imperfection in my inner core, laid out for the world to see.

Which isn’t the way I feel about Jamie.  Like all children, he’s his own little person, a separate individual.  On top of that, he’s influenced by all sorts of people and things in his life besides me.  While I hopefully have quite a lot of input into him, he’s a lot more complex than just a product of me.  As such, there are limits to the extent to which what he does is a reflection of what I’ve done.

Nor is there ever a point at which I hit the ‘Publish Now’ key on Jamie and he becomes an Official Finished Product, as happens with blog posts.  (Well, actually, it’s perfectly possible to edit blog posts at any time, whether they’re published or not.  But somehow it just feels like cheating to edit them once I’ve posted them.)

And one other factor is a protective instinct (protective of Jamie) at work. There’s such a thing as over-mothering.  My blog isn’t going to feel smothered if I put too much time and effort into trying to get every detail of it Just Right.  Jamie might.

Not trying to claim any of this is particularly logical, by the way.  Just the way I feel.

Secondly, Clare Wilson appeared on the blog and, quite unintentionally, stumbled across one of my pet bugbears:

Ooooh, getting into bed with them in the morning…setting yourself up
for disaster – or so the books say anyway. Sure it was nice and cuddly
this morning, but are you happy to do it every morning? At earlier and
earlier times?

(Which was, incidentally, not aimed as a criticism – she did make it clear that she did the same thing with her child.)

Well, that depends on what it’s an alternative to.  While I probably wouldn’t be as happy to do that as I would be to enjoy uninterrupted cosy sleep in my own bed on a regular basis, I’d be considerably happier to do that than I would be to spend ages putting him back to bed/making him stay in his room without being able to get back to sleep at all myself.  So, if that happened, I’d have to decide at what point my desire for the former outcome was great enough that it meant spending some days on the latter.  Believe me, one morning isn’t even close.

But I think what’s worth questioning here is the Myth Of The Bad Habit.  As you say, parenting books often give the message that you should never be willing to deviate from the Standard Plan in things like sleeping arrangements because it will inevitably be the thin end of the wedge, the opening of the floodgates, the other-metaphors-which-escape me that lead on to More And More Of The Same Only Worse.  As with many parenting myths, the myth probably isn’t so much over the fact that it happens, but over the degree to which we actually need to be worried about it.

Bear in mind that parenting book authors have a somewhat biased view of the situation here.  As a rule, we only tend to go to experts when we have a problem.  You are probably not going to go to all the trouble of seeing an expert just because your child, say, woke up once in the early hours of the morning and, having been settled to sleep by you curling up with them, slept to a comfortable hour on subsequent mornings.  So, the children that parenting experts see aren’t a random sample of children – they’re a sample that are skewed heavily towards children in whom the initial problem did develop into an ongoing problem.  Which, of course, tends to give the people who go on to write the books a less-than-accurate view of just what proportion of all children this applies to.

So… on Friday, I cuddled up with Jamie because I think it’s perfectly reasonable to want a cuddle once in a while if you’ve woken up in the middle of the night and maybe you’ve had a bad dream or you’re just a bit upset or confused at waking up all alone in the dark.  What would have happened if I’d decided instead that I couldn’t possibly do this Even Once for fear of heading down Bad Habit Highway?  Well, instead of having a lovely cosy cuddle with my son and a bit more sleep, I’d have been sitting outside his room, shivering and sleepy and wishing I could get back to bed, but stuck there to make sure he didn’t get up.  That’s the best-case scenario.  Worst-case – if he’d been upset about it, it’s possible he might have worked himself up enough that he’d have woken himself up thoroughly and not gone back to sleep at all.  Which would have meant my husband hardly getting any sleep either because he’d have had to get up to take care of him, and having to spend all morning dealing with a very overtired child when he was horribly tired himself, which he would have been most unhappy about.

(Admittedly, this happened anyway – after I’d settled him again, he then had a dirty nappy and woke himself up earlier than he should.  But at least it was better than it could have been.)

And the point is, it would have all been a complete and total waste.  Know what actually happened the following morning?  He did wake up again at about 5 a.m. and cry, but he was only half awake and when I went in and popped his dummy back in, he settled immediately.  Then he slept through until twenty to nine in the morning.  (Bliss.  I got a nice lie-in myself, had time to put a load of laundry in the washing machine and unload the dishwasher without interruption, and even got a few sentences worth of blogging done.)  The next morning, he slept straight through, no waking, again until around twenty to nine.  Monday morning I don’t know about as I was at work and it was Barry’s day to take care of him, but Tuesday morning, same thing.  I can’t remember when I’ve had such a good run of him sleeping late in the mornings.

So, no, I don’t set a huge amount of store by those "Do this once and you will create a monster" warnings.  When Jamie was a baby, my mother told me that one of the most important
pieces of parenting advice ever was "Don’t solve the problem until it
happens".  I’ve long since learned to appreciate the
wisdom of this.

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2 Comments

Filed under Here Be Offspring, I think this line's mostly filler, Sacred hamburger

2 responses to “Singly Asked Questions

  1. Beth

    I like your mom’s philosophy about not borrowing trouble. I was talking with a parent of a newborn the other day and making some suggestions (I think about not worrying about the bottle if the baby didn’t like EBM yet — waiting a week and trying again while sleeping more now was OK). Anyway, they were all worried about how things would work out in three months if present trends continued, amd I was trying to tell them that their baby would be a completely different person in four months and there was no way of knowing what her problems would be then. Preschoolers don’t change as fast as babies, but you still can deal with problems when they show up instead of tying yourself into pretzels to ward off something that may never matter.

  2. Clare Wilson

    TWENTY TO NINE???? There is no justice in the world…
    The last time my baby slept past 6.30, I started panicking that she had died…I tiptoed in to check. Needless to say she was still breathing but then the noise of my closing the door woke her up. Gaaagh…

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