Wandering with a near Toddler in Tow

Our family is due to take another trip in less than two weeks!  Ah, my thirst will be quenched.  I’m forever the dreamer, wondering where I should trek next.  We’ll be heading south to New Orleans, Louisiana.  I’m not one for thick air that forces you to pant and stains your clothes with sweat, but we’ll be going in early March so the gulf weather should be manageable.  (I’m a cold weather enthusiast.)  My parents have told me I’ve been there before.  I was an infant; Willow’s age approximately.  Due to a basement flood, most of my childhood was drowned and remains undocumented, save the memories I can recall.  I’m excited to visit this Jazzy, French/Creole inspired city.  Flipping through photos, I can only imagine the vibrant life that awaits us.  Most would also be anxious about traveling with an infant going on toddler.

We’ve traveled with Willow before.  Back in September, Frank and I attended a friend’s wedding in Kansas.  The trip was labeled our Planes, Trains, Automobiles excursion because we used all three modes of transportation to get back to NJ.  We visited MO, IL, IN, OH, and KY as well as KS.  (FYI, I WOULD NOT advise using all those modes of travel.  I thought I could save money, but in the end, we took a hit to our wallet.  We didn’t have a credit card at the time so car companies wouldn’t rent to us.  We would travel all over a city looking for a place and Budget Rental Car or Avis were the only ones who would loan a car out to an individual without a credit card.  Also, one-way car rentals are EXPENSIVE!  I never thought they would be, having never done it before, but be warned, one way rentals have a steep price!)  Anyways, Willow did great.  There was only one plane ride that she fussed on and it was about a 2 hour flight.  Most of the time, she slept.

Willow was 5 months old when we went out to KS.  She will be 11 months old for this trip.  Six months of aging for an infant–>toddler means increased mobility and squirming.  I’m praying it goes as smoothly as last time.  For the most part, I’m not too concerned.  More than likely, Willow will smile and coo and the other passengers.  I will admit that having an easy going child makes travel SO much easier.  (I honestly don’t know what I would do if she fussed while we traveled.)  Some people really can’t go places, that is if they fear how others will react over a screaming or fussy child.  Thankfully, Willow is flexible with her schedule and goes with the flow.

Some tips I have found were helpful when we were traveling with Willow back in September were to buy disposable diapers when we landed, bring our own stroller and car seat rather than rent one, pack enough clothing to last 3 days and just do laundry somewhere (bear in mind infants need about 3-4 back-up outfits just in case they vomit, poop, pee, or any other array of soiling their clothes), and we packed enough toys to keep her entertained, but not so many toys that our bags were too heavy or we didn’t use a toy. Bringing our own car seat and stroller worked well for this particular trip to reduce car rental expenditures, but this variable can vary depending on the trip; use your discretion when deciding to rent or bring your own car safety gear.  We had a stock pile in the diaper bag, but we didn’t pack all the diapers we thought we’d need for the trip.  We simply purchased disposable diapers when we got to KS.  I know some people insist on cloth diapers, or their child has allergic reactions to certain disposable diapers, and this will complicate matters.  If this is the case, find a place where you can do laundry and work that into your schedule.  For planes, it is important for a young child to suck on something during take off and landing to help stabilize pressure in the ears.  I nurse so I just made sure I latched Willow on a few minutes before take-off and landing.  Willow eats more solids now so I might give her some water, milk, or snacks to help with ear pressure.  If needed, I will nurse.  Since Willow eats solids now, we will also pack a few snacks that we can bring through security.

One of the most important things Frank and I did was we smiled frequently. (The grammar sounds off here, forgive me.) If you relax and enjoy yourself, it is likely your child will too.

Best wishes for safe and enjoyable travel with your young infant-toddler in tow.

 

 

Traveling: An Insider Scoop

I posted a meme, granted it was a bit over-simplified (aren’t they all), about travel.  The basic premise of the meme was that if you didn’t eat out at restaurants, you could probably save close to $400/month, depending on how much you ate out.  These savings could assist you in getting a round-trip airline ticket anywhere in the world.  Like I said, it was over-simplified.  However, the concept rings true.

In America, we make excuses as to why we can’t travel.  Now, I’ll grant you that terminal illnesses and the like will make it difficult, if not impossible, to travel.  That is a rare instance.  The general American populace is making excuses though.  Yes, we have abysmal vacation allowance in the States, but if you don’t get paid for taking vacation, just figure that into your vacation fund.  We say our family is too big.  In general, we have the typical European family size.  Europeans are very well-traveled.  Yes, Europeans have more vacation time from their jobs [see previous comment in this paragraph about vacation allowance in the States].  Europeans typically have smaller take home wages due to high taxes though.  Let that be a factor.  Yes, Europeans can travel more readily to different countries than we can, but travel between States rather than to other countries.  Each state offers its own cultural experience,  take advantage of that; it’ll feel like you are experiencing a different country sometimes!

I see several families in the States traveling to Disney.  This is the only big vacation they take with their family.  Disney is an expensive rip-off.  It is the same every year.  They push cheap, plastic junk to fill your house with, they sell over-priced junk food, and you can get similar ride experiences at the nearest Six Flags.  Yeah, I know it is the happiest place on earth.  I’m going to ruffle feathers.  People love Disney.  If you want to make that your yearly family vacation, then by all means, go ahead.  However, don’t regale me with tales about how you can’t afford travel when this is your only notion of a family vacation.  Travel is so much broader than Mickey Mouse.

Some years ago, a passion for travel was ignited and me and that passion keeps right on burning.  I research travel daily, dreaming of my next trip or reminiscing about trips I’ve taken.  As part of my research, I have signed up for daily e-mails from sites like Groupon, Budget Travel, and Intrepid Travel.  (I have many more money-saving travel tip sites that send me information, these were just some that popped immediately into my mind.)  I also follow well known travel bloggers and keep up-to-date on their insider tips for budget travel.  [I follow Nomadic Matt (who has written articles for Lonely Planet) and Be My Travel Muse (who I discovered through Nomadic Matt; she is one of his guest writers).] Some of these sites have chances to enroll in free trips.  I always click on the link and enroll for a chance to win a free trip.  I know someone who won a free trip to Harry Potter World through the Today Show.  Are the chances slim?  Yes.  Impossible? No.  Then enroll, pray, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll win a free trip.

I finally had my husband agree, begrudgingly, to use a credit card.  We have one.  We pay it off every month.  This credit card is the United MileagePlus Card through Chase, our bank.  By signing up, we earned 30,000 mileage rewards.  Besides fuel (which we can usually get for cheaper by paying in cash), we put all our living expenses on the card.  If you refer a friend and they purchase the card, you can receive 10,000 mileage rewards.  A roundtrip, economy airline ticket to Hawaii is roughly 45,000 miles.  If you have a family member that has to travel for work, this is a great card!  The first year is free, but there is a $90 annual membership fee after that.  I considered the cost/benefit ratio, found reviews of the card online (Nomadic Matt being one of the sites I looked at for a review).

Too many Americans think of resorts and luxury leisure travel when they think of vacations and travel.  Our mindset has to change in order to realize that we can afford to travel, TODAY!  Check out these great sites:

https://www.uber.com/ (for getting a car)

https://www.airbnb.com/ (for vacation homes/rentals)

https://www.couchsurfing.com/ (stay with locals for FREE)

If you are staying in a big city, consider public transportation or walking.  You don’t have to rent a car.  Do you have kids in tow?  Perhaps you can rent a stroller.  Need a car seat to be transported from an airport to your dwelling place?  Rent a car seat too.  (I have traveled with an infant.  We brought our stroller and car seat because we were going to be renting multiple cars and using several modes of transportation.  It worked in our favor.)  Also, do you have friends or family that live in other places?  Ask them if you can stay with them.  If not, ask if they have a friend who might be willing to let you stay with them.  Check out monasteries and hostels too, these are great places to save in order to try and save housing costs on.

As for activities in a particular location, think about free activities like hiking or nature observing.  Find local festivals or events that are free.  Look for museums that have discount days or are free.  When selecting activities, consider planning your own itinerary rather than using tour groups.  In general, tour groups, while informative and potentially fun, will cost more.  If traveling in the US, buy a National Park pass and visit National Parks.  Enjoying a location doesn’t have to put you in debt.

For food, consider finding a place with a kitchen.  Eat some meals in.  Only splurge on a couple of meals while you are traveling.

If you want to travel internationally, consider going to towns or countries where the costs are cheaper.  Brazil, Mexico, India are all countries that tend to have lower expenditures in the country.  Americans tend to want to stay in fancy, resort locations and I certainly understand wanting to stay in a safe location in certain countries.  Do research.  Find out which places in a particular country or city are safer than others.

For day-to-day expenditures, consider cutting back on costs.  If you eat out frequently, try eating more meals at home.  If you have cable, cancel it.  Most channels can be streamed through the internet anyways.  Sometimes you have to wait a couple of days to get a show.  Patience is a virtue.  Trade in your smart phone for a GPS you can put in your car and a regular phone that only texts or calls.  Shop at consignment stores rather than retail.  Join Facebook groups like Free Exchange.  Think about your apartment or home.  Could you downsize and still feel comfortable?  (My husband and I are comfortable in our 700 sq. ft. living space.  I really like to entertain so it is a bit hard to have large gatherings.  (The layout of my home is atrocious.  It will be fixed later on.)  However, our monthly living expenses for our house free up money to be spent on other luxuries we enjoy, especially travel.  (We only pay roughly $800/mo. for a 2 bedroom home in NJ!  That is hard to come by!  Our house is old and drafty—you just layer up and save for repairs.)

Also, budget, budget, budget.  Watch where your money goes.  You will be surprised what you can potentially cut back on.  Put away money each month for travel.  Save up your coins and put them in a jar.  Loose change adds up quickly!

Think about volunteer travel.  Typically, your expenses will be partly, if not completely covered.  (If a family, check to make sure what the minimum age is for this type of travel.)

I’m extremely passionate about travel because it strips me of my narrow mindset.  I meet people who have had different experiences than me.  I learn about the world and myself.  I am removed from the comfortable shelter of only being around like-minded people.  I get to experience Christ in fresh ways—be it in a stunning setting (admiring his creativity as author, Creator, of the world’s beauty), a new community (fellowship and new friends), or a historical place (which helps me understand how faith has shaped others and myself throughout time).

If it becomes important enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

People have said, “I want to wait to have kids until I can afford them.”  Other people advise these individuals with “If you do that, you’ll never have them.”  Kids have too many variables—they could get sick, they make terrible choices and need help, they excel in an area and need financial aid to pursue that talent.  Travel isn’t as uncertain.  If people have found a way to reproduce and pay for kids, who are far more unpredictable than a planned trip, people can certainly find a way to travel.

As such, get out there.  Stretch yourself and your mind.  Enjoy the world and everything God has to offer in and through it.  (Note:I’m not saying to be of the world as some might misinterpret that statement.)  Become the travel bug you aspire to be.  Then write about it, try to get articles published, and use your experiences to pay for more travel.  The possibilities are endless, if only you are willing to admit it.

May you have safe and enjoyable travels.  Godspeed.

 

 

 

A Threadbare Carpet

Placating prayers

blanket friendship bereft of depth.

Sales transactions and business endeavors

foster camaraderie, alluding to stronger ties than actually woven.

Then constant comments on public interest posts insinuate superiority and the author’s lack of personal faith.

When worldviews are shared, aside from entrepreneurship,

one party is left “guilty”, apologizing for existence.

When apologies are offered

and the other brushes off responsibility,

all weight of arguments flared ensnares the approval addict in a pit of self-doubt.

After months, possibly years, of this woe, a filter is placed to sift out deceit and assuage debate.

A sense of this rift leads to a stream of texts.

At the end, the soft illusion of accountability, unity, and community is stripped bare;

exposed lays the hurt of misconceptions and fake friendliness.

In an act of personal mercy, the communication is asked to be severed,

at least while individuals remain only connected via electrical wires.

At the end, I kneel asking if Christ would have left a friendship.

In a year of Jubilee, when debts are to be completely forgiven,

I wonder if I acted justly, in a manner befitting a Christian label.

At what point is toxicity poisoning individual faith?

Do we need to chatter or can we distance ourselves?

What is the balance between enabling and assisting?

What is the protocol for ending communication, is it ever acceptable?

Under normal circumstances, without technological influence, the natural progression of the tie would probably have ceased due to a lack of proximity.

When co-dependency seems to be rising, is it Christ-like and loving to quit the bond?

I feel relieved, more at peace when I ponder the authenticity of the “friendship” and ending a reciprocation of views shared, lives exposed, and prayers requested.  On the other hand, I wonder  if my actions glorify God or if I should have tried harder to mend the wearing line, if I should have put more effort into reconciling a clearly fading link.  There are the friendships where one feels closer to the other party; feelings of benefit not mutual.  There was a glimmer of a skewed perception of closeness here.  Was I right or wrong? Only time will reveal an answer…or perhaps one might never come and I have to trust that my faith is authentic, even if it remains questioned by the grieving cast-away.

 

My mind is so cloudy with conflicting opinions on the resolution of this matter.  The poem could be more cohesive, better written.  I have had too little sleep, due to an infant with any number of issues that can’t be verbally expressed, and being a prisoner of my own contemplation.  Forgive my writer woe.

A Womanly Woman

Stray hairs jut out of my brow,

My nails are unpolished,

My fingers and hands are winter chapped.

Dead ends adorn my head

As my frazzled curls go untamed too.

Acid washed jeans, literally, cover my lower bodice

While an over-sized t-shirt is sported up top.

This lack of primping hints to my disinterest in fashion

and American societal norms on “beauty”.

My feet sport hiking boots,

revealing my love of nature and outdoor activities.

A lab coat reveals my profession and an interest in science.

I carry a pumping bag instead of a purse.

The only jewelry I wear is an engagement ring and wedding band,

which I’d remove if my darling husband agreed to tattoos as a symbol of lifetime commitment.

I rarely cook,

I don’t separate my laundry…I just wash it all in cold water (except for cloth diapers).

I can’t sew, stitch, or hem.

My Facebook page is littered with articles on feminism, religion, and parenting.

I’m an extroverted, opinionated individual.

I like hikes, home repairs, and dirt.

Sparkles, glitter, the color pink, and gems annoy me.

I don’t like celebrity magazines.

Shopping for clothes or shoes, if for myself not my daughter, stresses me out.

I hate shopping.  I don’t keep up with the latest trends.

I do like dancing, crafts, and theatre.

I like animals, country music, and travel.

At birth, I had a vagina.  Today, I still do.  Through it, I gave birth to my daughter.

I’m pretty certain my interests didn’t determine my gender, God and DNA did that.

Gender roles should stop.  My interests in science, nature, and home repairs don’t make me less of a girl.  My dislike of pink, sparkles, purses, or jewelry don’t lessen my girlishness.  When did an interest in fashion and “being pretty” become the ultimate goal, the defining pinnacle of womanhood?  I disagree with this notion and am frustrated when it is perpetuated by friends and family.  All this pigeonholing has done is leave women even more ashamed of their bodies, not grateful for their other, far more important, attributes, and struggling to prove they are worth more than their aesthetic accouterments and/or alterations.   This classification has only resulted in staring at oneself in the endless vanity mirror.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord, how he has made us and instilled our passions, not in the constructs of acceptable societal norms on what is “girly” or “boyish” (which changes about as quickly as the tides might I add).  *See pink used to be a boy color*

 

 

 

 

Harvesting Fruit

For years, I have struggled with approval addiction.  Growing up I competed with my sister for my parents’ affection.  They had more than enough to go around, but we fought over who was the preferred child.  One day, begrudgingly or not, my mother said my sister was her favorite.

Fast forward or rewind (I’m not entirely certain about the timeline of events).

I cowered underneath a playground in my sitter’s backyard.  For months, possibly a year or two, I was told that my blanket was for babies.  My sitter would rip it from my hands and then leave me in a corner for hours.  Neglect.  I was an upbeat, bubbly child.  The longer I stayed there, I became silent and reserved.  My parents noticed and finally removed me from there, but the damage was irreparable (aside from Christ of course).

I can remember my parents working.  It was necessary.  I have to as a parent.  I don’t fault them for it.  They are very driven and felt it was required to work 10 hours or so in order to get promoted, earn more money, and give me a comfortable lifestyle.  I appreciate what they did for me.  My dad grew up poor, really poor.  My father lived in a campsite once.  I understand he wanted more for himself, more for his children.  I craved his time, my mother’s time.  I wanted to feel wanted.

In my teenage years, I dated several boys.  I was taken advantage of.  I was not raped.  I was touched without my permission though.  I didn’t say no, but I never said yes.  Being touched, I was too stunned to say stop.  Yes means yes.  If you aren’t told you can do something, it is best to refrain (at least in the sexual realm…from personal experience).

I wanted to know I was loved, approved of, desired without condition.  The Christian faith is probably appealing to me for the very reason that Christ died for me without me earning his sacrifice.  He loves me.  He approves of me.

I got into a fight with my father last night.  I said something that hurt my mother.  He probably said what he did as a reactionary statement.  Regardless, my emotions were bruised.  I’ve been trying to earn my parents approval, my parents praise since I was a child.  I was neglected by babysitters and taken advantage of by boyfriends.  I just wanted, and still do, assurance that I’m not a failure.  I am loved.  I do have a reason, a purpose.  I didn’t feel that from his comments last night.

My current church is doing community groups.  I also picked up a Lenten devotional at a Catholic Church we went to on Ash Wednesday.  In an e-mail exchange through community group and in yesterday’s meditations, I read about God planting us by streams to bear fruit.  Even when we can’t see his hand working in us to reap fruit, God is uprooting and planting us so that we bear fruit for him.  Singing “Our Father’s Love” last night I recalled these readings.  It was what I needed to know—God is working in me.  He is bearing fruit from my life when I surrender to him.  I am loved and approved by him.  Even when the world tears me down, abuses me, or shuts me out, God is holding me in the palm of my hand, taking care of the sapling he planted almost 29 years ago.

This Lenten season I’m trying to be more self-controlled.  When I’m applying self-control to my thought life, I must remember that I am a daughter of the Most High King.  I have immeasurable worth.  He formed me in my mother’s womb for a purpose.  I can persist in the struggles of this life, the rejection from humanity, or the inadvertent neglect because I have the hope that God is working this for his good, his glory.  He is completing the work he started in me because he loves me so much to make me a part of his story.  I don’t need to end the story sooner.  God has a beautiful conclusion.  I just need to hang onto that cliff to see where the story leads and in it, find his grace is sufficient, abundant, and eternal.

I will bear fruit yet.  I have harvested fruit in the past even if I can’t see it.

We must all press on.  Perseverance tests our faith and this results in proven character.  We are his beloved, his bride.  He made each and every one of us.  When the world casts us out or beats us up, may we remember his promises.  Let us remember our identities in him, not the narrow-minded, stringent identities of labels and societal norms that the world projects on to us.  Even if the world does not approve of us, when we love God, pursuing him in faithfulness, he approves us.

Have you noticed fruit produced in your life?  If not, what promises of God are you learning to cling onto this Lenten season and beyond?

Ashes, Ashes, May we all bend down

Sackcloth and ashes

adorn a repentant heart

mourning sin,

personal regrets and remorse for a nation’s apathetic approach

to God.

Bury your pride, my pride

and take up the cause of the cross.

Burn passionately for the cause of others.

Refrain, abstain from indifference and self-indulgence.

Control emotions and impulses.

Surrender your will, my will, to our Lord.

In humility, serve so He might be served and in it, glorified.

 

What will you do with the time you’ve been given?  How will you grieve and repent?  How will you adapt and change, all for God’s light to be magnified in an ever-darkening world?

 

Bed-Sharing and other “Faux-Pas” Practices

Love It or List It.  In searching for a potential new home purchase, the Realtor in the popular TV show, Love It or List It, insists that each child must have his or her own bedroom.  Siblings must never share a room.  Imagine his chagrin if the buyer mentioned that the Master could be the biggest room because the kids would just sleep in the parents bedroom.  While the HGTV hit is a Canadian based program, the sentiment that children should have their own room, never bed share with parents, and babies should be in a nursery with their own crib is proliferated in American society.

I bed share.  I never intended to sleep in the same bed as my children.  The first night we brought Willow home I placed her in the Pack n’ Play bassinet.  She wailed.  I cried.  I remember picking her up and in between my heaving sobs, I placed her next to me in the bed.  I was fearful of bed sharing because Frank, my husband, was quite the violent sleeper.  He flailed.  I certainly did not want to harm my baby by letting her sleep next to a man who might smack her in his slumber.  That tearful night, Frank became a still sleeper.  He was keenly aware of our precious bundle in the middle of the bed.  I remember the static I received when I stated that we let Willow sleep in our bed.

Willow has been sleeping in our bed for 10 months now.  I nurse and it is extremely convenient to roll over and let her nourish herself without me having to get up out of bed.  I get a decent amount of sleep when she isn’t sick or wanting to suckle continuously.  I’m not sure how low my supply has dropped, if Willow is still hungry because she isn’t getting enough solids during the day, or if Willow wants the comfort of nursing for teething or a growth spurt.  Regardless, Willow has been up and nursing more frequently at night.

I’m 12 weeks pregnant.  Pregnancy takes a toll on my body.  I get viruses frequently and have trouble combating them.  When I start to recover, I seem to get another one.  Willow has been sick recently too.  Frank has been ill as well.  At least one of us has been fighting sickness since the end of November.  The sleep deprivation accompanying this illness is wearing on me.  I’m very fatigued.  In an effort to regain strength, I reluctantly decided that I’d stop night feedings between 11 pm-4 am.  Needless to say, Willow isn’t happy.

Willow can smell me when we bed share.  In an attempt to stave off a typical 2 am feeding, we decided we would try placing Willow in her crib to sleep.  Last night was relatively successful.  We enjoyed an evening at a friend’s house in celebration of Groundhog Day.  Around 9 pm we left to drive home.  Willow fell asleep in the car, which is a blessing and she does it frequently.  She was so drowsy that when I pulled her out from her car seat she didn’t even open her eyes.  I quickly transferred her to the crib.  (Kudos to Frank for putting PJ’s in the diaper bag so Willow was ready for sleep when we got home.)  She cried a little but within 10 seconds was snoozing away.  I would say she woke about every 1.5-2 hours, but after rocked her for 2-5 minutes and put her back in the crib, she was sleeping again.  Willow stayed in the crib from 9:30 pm-4 am.

This was an accomplishment by American standards.  My little girl slept on her own!  She didn’t sleep through the night, bad girl (enter sarcastic sigh).  (Rant: Good babies: Babies who don’t openly express needs through crying or times of wakefulness.  A good baby is one who is silent, smiling, and sleeps when the parents sleep.  God forbid a child has a need and can’t vocally express it.  AGH!  Babies have needs not wants.  Willow is getting to the age where she understands cause and effect, but she still mostly has needs not wants.  She isn’t manipulating me to meet those needs.)

[A comment on sleeping through the night: No, a majority of babies aren’t sleeping through the night at 6 months.  Most parents just might be ashamed to admit their sleep deprivation for fear of condescending remarks from other parents or family members.  It is perfectly normal for a child to wake in the night.  In fact, it is prudent and evolutionary for a child to wake at night.  In the past, individuals understood that a baby who woke up was wanting comfort from his or her mother (generally it was the mother who cared for the child in the past…she carried the baby in-utero for 9 months).  A rousing child has a decreased chance of dying from SIDS.  Also, a child could sleep through the night for a brief period of time and then regress.  Willow was starting to sleep 12 am-5 am without nursing (even while bed sharing) before I went back to work.  At three months, when I returned to work, she started waking every 2-3 hours to nurse or snuggle.  Night time is a period for bonding between a child and working parent (if that parent works during the day).  Babies will also wake up sometimes because they are undergoing a growth spurt, sprouting teeth, or are uncomfortable that particular evening.  Adults have periods of sleeplessness as well.  Why do we expect children to behave better than adults?  We shouldn’t!]

Anyways, I’m digressing.  The fact remains, Willow stayed in her crib from 9:30 pm- 4 am.

Here is a summary of a conversation I had with my mother this morning.  Me: “Willow slept in her crib last night.”  My mom said, “Good. She was fine.  I told you she would be.”  Me: “Yeah, she was, but it was still rough. She really wanted her 2 am nursing session.”  Mom:”I’m sure Frank doesn’t want her in the bed with you.”  Me:”Actually Frank is fine with it and finds it comforting like I do.  The time he doesn’t want her in the bed is when she’s fussing.”  Mom:”Well it is time for her to have her own room.” Me:”In other cultures, bed sharing is normal.”  Mom:”We live in America, not in another culture.” Me:”Yes, but just because Americans do something doesn’t make it right or better for my family.”  Mom: “These NJ drivers!”  (Yeah, even though we are adults, we can’t disagree without her wanting to hang up.  She can tell me how everything I do is wrong, but if I contradict her, I must be shut up by a different conversation or a hang up on the telephone line.)  While this emphasizes a disagreement between me and my mother, most Americans agree that children are fine to be left crying in a room by themselves and being in their own crib is perfectly normal once they are brought home from the hospital (because of course everyone has a hospital birth and if you don’t, you are intentionally putting your child in danger and don’t mind if they die (note the sarcasm here too).

Last night was hard for me.  I didn’t sleep as well.  Yes, I didn’t have to nurse and get that energy drained from me, but I would rouse often.  When I did wake, I was watching the monitor.  Every time I heard a deeper snore or quick whimper I was fixated on the glowing screen.  At 4 am, when I brought Willow into our bed to nurse, I finally started to sleep deeply and comfortably.  In my mind, she is still so young.  Yes, she will do fine in her own space (and did).  Willow will be okay when Frank and I spend our first night away (both of us) from her.  Kids are resilient in many ways.  A child’s resiliency doesn’t negate the difficulties of parenting or worrying about your child.  You want the best for your kid.  It might seem neurotic and our children always grow up thinking we are a bit more overbearing than we actually are (hopefully), but we do have concerns.  There are dangers in this world.  We want to protect our young.  It comes down to trusting God with their decisions and their care.  We can’t shelter them from life’s experiences.  Children must learn to become adults, but it doesn’t make it easy for the parent who must slowly let go.  Also, it is common for babies to sleep with their parents in other parts of the world.  Other cultures get by on way less shelter space than Americans.  Their limited space might be more out of necessity than desire, but they manage and generally raise well adjusted, independent children.

I also hold Willow a lot.  I don’t put her in the stroller often, but will carry her around the store.  This isn’t to say I never put leave Willow in her car seat or put her in a stroller, but I feel comfortable and content when she is attached to me with a carrier.  I’ve been told that Willow fusses now when I put her down because I held her too much in her younger months.  Willow could be fussing because she is going through a common stage of development called separation anxiety.  If I walk out of the room, she feels that she is alone.  In that moment, she feels hopeless and lost.  This is a natural progression in a child’s development.  (Have Americans forgotten this?)  Sometimes, she is crying for us because she soiled her diaper and doesn’t want to be set down because she needs tending to.

I don’t like letting Willow cry it out.  Her tears seem contrary to meeting her needs.  I understand that Willow will be fine with a little crying.  As Willow enters her toddler years, I understand that Willow will throw tantrums.  Willow will assert her wants and get angry when I try to manage those by teaching her societal norms and typical, acceptable behavioral interactions.  Willow will cry.  I don’t have to let her do it when she wants me to hold her before work because she just wants to be reassured that I’m near, I don’t have to let her soothe herself to sleep in a dark room by herself, and I don’t have to rush these moments.  I don’t want to rush her childhood.  Yes, I look forward to watching her grow up and having time alone with Frank again, but in the meantime, I want to savor Willow’s fleeting precious moments now.  Please don’t make me grow up and especially her, too quickly.

Also, please don’t say we are wrong because we aren’t doing things the way Americans generally do.  Sure, it is different, but not these practices aren’t wrong.

 

[There are many other faux-pas practices (at least compared to American ideals and what Americans consider normal) that I have implemented in my parenting skill set.  Bed sharing and baby wearing are just two that I’ve discussed at length in this post today.]