Saturday, July 27, 2013

Accepting What Is

My highest moments in parenting come from when I accept the inevitable with something approximating grace. My lowest parenting moments come when I try to force an outcome on my children, operating from the notion that it "shouldn't" be this way, like a later morning wake time for Ezra. The whole family does well with a 7/7:30 wake time, dude, why ya gotta start your demands at 6 am? No matter what time he goes to bed, the clock reads 6:13 when he stumbles in grumbling like Linus, blankie in hand and hair wild from sleep. After 20 straight mornings of this, it's time to accept what is.

At 18 months, we are in the throes of separation anxiety and it is intense being on the receiving end of so much need (Matthew might argue that he has it harder, as the unpreferred parent!). Ezra will smack his brother if he's in my lap, push Papa away if we are all three sharing a hug and pitch a fit if I deign to hold another child at a playgroup. There are lots of fits, actually, with a whole host of triggers. And the nursing. Short version: this guy likes his boobs. After a few months of accepting Papa for all nighttime comfort, we have recently endured several 30-40 minute screaming fits in the middle of the night if I do not nurse him.

unsanctioned piano climbing
When I'm off-center and underslept, I feel the worries and fears scaffolding upon themselves with ever more urgency: if I don't wean him now, it'll just be more difficult as he becomes even more willful at 2. If I don't insist on him accepting nighttime comfort from Matthew 50-50, I will always have to put him to sleep and Noah will never get those tender bedtime experiences we have long enjoyed. And on and on. My super power is catastrophizing, it would seem!

When I approach these challenges with an open heart and a peaceful mind, the answers come more easily. He's not ready to wean. The need to be near (preferably in arms and on boob) is a developmental stage, not his lifelong temperament. I can meet these needs, and a big factor is going to bed early enough to support a 6 am wake up (instead of operating on the false hope that maybe, just maybe, he'll sleep in tomorrow).

And you know, 7 am on a summer morning is a lovely time to nurse in the hammock outside, listening to the birds welcome the day, while Chula Dog bops around. Some days I do more than just accept what is, I can even find the pleasure in it.

It helps that Ezra is the second child because I've learned these lessons before! I already know that just when a child's behaviors begin to feel intolerable, they move on and it gets better.

Enough with the gloom and doom of the toddler stage, you know what's truly awesome? Toddler kisses, that's what. Loose lips, tremendous focus, whole body leaning in, hands squeezing face...pure love and goodness, there.


  1. Aw, Ezra is getting so big! It's fun to see these recent pictures of him. You are a beautiful, thoughtful writer and I always enjoy your posts!

  2. Love the picture of Ezra!

    A family member just posted this terrific lyric on Fbook:

    "When I look around/I think this...this is good enough/and I try to laugh at whatever life brings/'cause when I look down I just miss all the good stuff/and when I look up, I just trip over things." -Ani diFranco

    Sounds like a rough patch, and also sounds like you are focused on coming through it with your usual equanimity...:)