Tag Archive for: parenting

New Year, New Moments

by Bethany Maines
Several years ago I realized that over the course of a year
I would collect an assortment of what I would call one-off photos. Photos of
memories that I didn’t want to forget, but that didn’t necessarily rate printing
out and hanging on the wall.  My solution
was to create a “Year in Review” photo album. 
The genius of this plan is every single time I or someone else says, “When
did we do that one thing in that one place?” I can look up the answer.  The problem with creating an album that
tracks all the mundanities of the year is that you can see at a glance just how
boring you were in a given year. 
And in looking at my most recent batch of pictures it’s
pretty clear that my 2015 was pretty boring.
I blame my daughter.  My
husband and I spent 2015 repeating the new parent mantra: We’re making it.  Yeah, we’re
totally making it.  Nope, no, no, not
making it.  No, wait, we’re back.  We’re making it.
Any life where the bar for success is set to “just making it”
doesn’t leave a lot of energy for doing new things or going new places.  Now, I know, I know, I’m supposed to be reveling
in the day to day joys of parenthood and treasuring every tiny moment with my
adorable baby, blah blah blah.  You know
what reveling in the day to day joys of parenthood does NOT include?  A vacation. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love each and every one of the the2000 pictures of
my daughter I snapped over the last year, but the banner event of several months
was literally a walk in the park.  Which,
while lovely, is not the same as actually going somewhere or doing something.

So as with every other person who has reached the end of the
year and realized that their life hasn’t been heading in the direction they
would like it to, I made a resolution. 
In my case, it’s to seek out new experiences and get a few pictures of
things that aren’t my daughter.  Which is
why I kicked off the year by testing out all of my waterproof make-up and
participated in a Polar Plunge into the Pacific Ocean.  Sound cold? 
It was.  But now I have a new
memory and a new photo for the 2016 book.  
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, Tales from the City of
and An Unseen Current.
You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Chocolate Milk, Lack of Sleep, and Parenting

My three sons have always maintained that by the time I had their baby sister, I had no parenting standards left. They love to give as proof the carton of chocolate milk they discovered in the refrigerator, something they insist had never been purchased in their entire collective childhoods. “Look,” they whine, “the kid asks for it, and voila, it’s bought.”

In my defense, I point out three things. First, it was a one-time purchase. Second, it was chocolate milk, not heroin. And third, and probably most important, they’re assuming I had standards when they were living full time in the house. Truth is: I’m a softie when it comes to my offspring. I repeat, who took them to see the World Wrestling Federation? And the answer is: not my husband who is still shell-shocked that I ever agreed to that outing.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about my standards (or lack thereof) as I work my way through this book on baby’s first year. Since this is a mystery blog, I’ve been trying to find a way to tie the subject to a whodunit. Best that I can come up with is the victim is a mother who declares in a park full of other new moms that her baby, at the age of three weeks, is sleeping through the night. I figure there would be plenty of suspects because the last thing you want to hear when you haven’t slept in 4000 hours is some woman, dressed in her skinny jeans, telling you how rested she feels.

I’m working on the sleep chapters and discovered a whole industry devoted to getting your baby to sleep through the night. One expert, Dr. Richard Ferber, has become a verb. Have you Ferberized your baby? Sounds vaguely like pasteurized milk. Anyway the basic concept is that babies need to learn to soothe themselves back to sleep. Parents are instructed to let their infant cry (for longer and longer periods over the course of a week) until he falls back to sleep. By that point, of course, the mother is up all night consumed by guilt, but that’s another story. Dr. Ferber believes that it will be a rough few days, but that most babies learn self-soothing mechanisms and are sleeping like, well, babies within seven days.

At the other extreme is Dr. William Sears. He promotes attachment-style parenting and a family bed. Sears believes that it’s more important that babies get the reassurance and intimacy of parental soothing, than learn independent sleep habits.

Reminds me of the quote from John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”

Most parents, I think, find something in the middle that makes them comfortable. I tend to err on the side of parental soothing. I could no more listen to my child cry for 25 minutes than I could stand hearing my dog whimper that long. On the other hand, I have no interest in routinely sharing my bed with anyone other than my husband. I do acknowledge, however, that by the time I had my second child (those firsborns are just one big learning curve), I no longer jumped at the first squawk, and was more than happy to not-so-gently nudge my husband to attend to the kid.

Bottom line: I accepted sleep deprivation as a parental fact of life, part and parcel of the job. But may I add that while I was crazed from all the nocturnal wakings when my kids were babies, it was nothing compared to the lack of sleep I got when they were teens.

Parenting is amazing, wonderful, fulfilling. It can also be a treacherous field of landmines through which we’re all trying to navigate safely. While we can learn from each other, we also need to learn to trust our instincts about what works best for each of our own families.

And as for that carton of chocolate milk? Here’s a confession. It had nothing to do with a lack of parenting standards. The better question is: who said it was for my daughter?

Evelyn David