Momversation Monday: Nature versus Nurture

>> Monday, May 31, 2010

You can find the momversation here.

Nature versus nuture is a topic I'm VERY interested in. Of course, being a psychology student (hence the blog title) has something to do with my interest in personality development. But ever since becoming a mom, the stakes are higher. It's not just a theory, it's a real dilemma.

"Do I have the power to make or break my kid?"

That's a scary question. Part of me wants to believe that no, I don't. That's the part of me that's afraid that everything I do has the ability to change the course of his entire life, for better or worse. That part of me would much rather believe that he is who he is, and he's going to be who he's going to be, come hell, high water or crappy, inept parenting.

Then there's the part of me that wants to believe that I'm doing everything I'm doing for a reason. That he isn't just a naturally happy-go-lucky kid, but that my parenting has something to do with that. That part of me wants to believe that whatever struggles he may have can be softened by good parenting, acceptance and love. But if I accept that, then I'm also accepting responsibility for his extremely clingy behaviour. His refusal to be put down for more than half an hour. His constant need to breastfeed, despite me offering him a bottle first. His inability to be away from us, ever.

Is that bad? Will he outgrow it? Is it my fault? My mom and I were talking about his clingyness the other day, and she said, "I bet you'll do things differently with the next one." She clearly thinks that by holding him all the time as a newborn, not letting him cry in his crib, baby wearing back when he was light enough that I could do so for hours at a time without it hurting my back, that I broke my baby. She clearly thinks I made him ultra-dependent on me. We tried putting him in his stroller whenever we went out. I wasn't going to let him cry just to teach him that babies belong in strollers. Or should I have? I question myself daily.

Sometimes I play the "What-if" game with The Hubbs.
I ask him, "What if Baboo gets picked on?"
"What if he is popular, and gets involved with the bad crowd and drinks and does drugs?"
"What if he wants to marry someone horrible, and if we tell him, we risk losing him?"

My wonderful, logical husband thinks that anything that can go wrong can be solved with love and respect. He doesn't believe we can control, shape or mould much of who Baboo is, but he does believe that we are in control of the kind of relationship that we have with him. And that having two parents who love and respect you, and with whom you have a close and loving relationship is enough to see you through any trials that life may throw your way. And enough to help you make wise choices. God, I hope he's right.

Honestly, when people say that the baby stage is the hardest, I don't believe them. Yes, the breastfeeding and having to carry him and having our lives revolve around his schedule is exhausting and daunting. But we have a beautiful little person who loves and adores us. We are his whole world, and that is an amazing thing. His love is unconditional and perfect, and he has a crazy confidence that we will help him when he is hurting, and that all can be right in the world if he can just be with us.

It won't be like this forever. Someday he will like his friends or his girlfriend more than he likes us. Someday he may utter the words "I hate you." Someday we will ache for the times when he speed-crawled behind us wherever we went, because it will feel like we haven't spent any time with him in weeks. Someday his love won't be so unconditional. We will embarass him with how uncool we are. We will enrage him with our rules and exasperate him with our desire to have him do the right thing.

Nature or nurture? Can we soften the blow of him becoming his own person? Can we teach him to come to us now, so that when he is a teen and thinking about drugs or shop lifting or sex, he feels he can tell us? Can we give him enough love to carry him through life, so that if he flunks out of college, has a terrible break-up or loses his job, he knows he can come home and we will be just as proud of him as we always have been? Can we do that for him? With simple love, warmth and respect?

God, I hope so.


Musings from a Mom of an Almost One-Year-Old (Part II)

>> Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This is part II of a mini-series I'm writing, on the subject going from being the Attachment Parenting mother of a baby to the Attachment Parenting mother of a toddler.

You can find Part I here.

Part II: Co-Sleeping

When my Sweet Baboo was first born, we said we'd never bedshare. We planned on keeping him in our room in a separate bed until he was sleeping through the night or waking only once, then moving him to his own room. Well, he's almost a year old and he's still waking several times a night to nurse, so we are having to re-evaluate that plan.

At first things were fine. He went to sleep in his bassinet beside our bed, I brought him into bed with me for feedings, and then back to his bassinet when the feedings were over. Eventually, though, he outgrew his bassinet. We didn't think switching him to his pack n play would be an issue, but we were wrong. That thing is uncomfortable, and he didn't want to sleep there. We couldn't blame him. He just couldn't get comfortable. So he started sleeping in bed with us. That was fine when he was younger and would sleep swaddled. But as he got older and bigger, he started rolling around a lot and needing a lot more space. It got pretty crowded fast, and my husband wound up moving to the futon in the living room half the time. Now its to the point where he doesn't even bother coming to bed with us and just starts the night out in the living room. He's lonely out there by himself, and I didn't think that was fair. But then, I also thought, if my husband who is an adult is lonely by himself all night, then how can I require my baby to spend the night by himself?

So we bought a crib that you could take one side off, and pushed it up against our bed. The plan was that Baboo would sleep in his crib, and we'd have our bed back, but we'd still all be together.

That worked for awhile. Until Baboo decided the crib wasn't big enough for him. Sometimes in the middle of the night we'd hear him rolling around, tossing and turning because he couldn't get comfortable. He'd then inevitably roll into bed with us. Sometimes we could put him back into his crib and he'd sleep, but sometimes he'd keep scootching back towards me for a cuddle.

And The Hubbs would end up back in the living room. Did I mention that our futon is NOT comfortable? We have had it for less than a year, and its already broken.

We don't know what to do about this situation. We feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Baboo can sleep all by himself in the bed, but he rolls around a lot and won't stay contained to our homemade co-sleeper. My husband and I want to be in the same bed again--being separate is not good. Not to mention the fact that sleeping on a very uncomfortable futon isn't fair to him.

Options we've thought of:
1-Buying a King sized bed for us to all sleep together. It would be pricey, and it would mean me forgoing the new photography equipment I've had my eye on, but I guess family comes before my hobby. The Hubbs thinks that this would just prolong us all sleeping together, though, and he really would like to have Baboo sleeping independently by the age of two. At that point, we'd be fine with him coming into our bed in the middle of the night if he felt like it, but we'd like him to at least start off in his own room.
2-Transitioning Baboo to his own room. We'd start slowly with the crib mattress on the floor beside our bed. Once he was used to that, we'd eventually move it across the room, then into his room where we'd fall asleep beside him, and then eventually he'd get used to sleeping in his room alone. His room is very cluttered right now and we'd have to really babyproof it for that to work. Eventually we'd like him to have a Montessori room, complete with floor bed, like this one.
3-We replace the futon with a proper sofa (again, expensive, again, no photography equipment for me until next year) and the Hubbs and I sleep in the living room. We give Baboo our bed in our room, and that way he has all the room he needs (we picture him rolling off the crib mattress if we did the floor bed, though we'd put blankets down so he wouldn't hurt himself). It has the added bonus of us being able to move all of his toys and crap into his bedroom, which we'd then use as a playroom. I could lay with him while he falls asleep, then go out to the living room with the Hubbs for the rest of the night.

What do you think? All of these options require a pretty big investment of either time or money, and any or all of them might fail. This AP thing is hard. Sometimes I wish we'd just made him sleep alone from the get-go so we wouldn't have this problem.

Any advice, thoughts, questions or comments would be appreciated.

Part III of Musings from a Mom of an Almost One-Year-Old coming soon. . .


Baby-Led Weaning

>> Friday, May 21, 2010

When we introduced solid foods to our Sweet Baboo, we decided to use a method called Baby Led Weaning. This shouldn't be confused with child-led weaning, which is letting the child decide when to stop breastfeeding. Baby Led Weaning means feeding finger foods that they baby can feed themselves, right from the get-go. Essentially, you skip purees and go straight to table food.

There are a few reasons why we chose this method. Part of the reason was that buying jarred baby food didn't appeal to us. When I was still pregnant, I did a 600 hour work placement at the YMCA Early Years Centre as part of the requirements for my degree. One of the classes I helped out with was a Making Baby Food class, in which we learned the benefits of babies getting homemade food versus store-bought. Parents have control over the ingredients, and you can gradually change the texture from totally pureed to somewhat chunky to get your kids more used to "real" food texture before starting them on table foods.

So we knew we weren't going to buy our baby food, but honestly, you know me--Pureeing everything my husband and I were eating in order for Baboo to try it just wasn't my cup of tea. First, it was kind of a pain. It's hard enough to have time to cook dinner with such an active little guy, let alone having to puree a bunch of it afterwards. Then I thought I'd puree a bunch of foods for him ahead of time, freeze them, and then just thaw before we ate. But that was also not ideal. For instance, it was kind of a waste if we did that to a whole bag of carrots and then found out he didn't like carrots, you know what I mean?  I also wasn't crazy about feeding him food that I had frozen and then thawed. I tend to think that fresher is better. On top of that, we all like to eat dinner together. It was kind of hard to juggle being able to eat MY dinner along with having to spoon feed Baboo his dinner. And then he also just wasn't a huge fan of having someone else stick a spoon in his mouth. He would always try to grab it, and then end up with food all over his hands. It was just no good.

So we decided to switch to the BLW approach. Basically, you cut up bite sized pieces of whatever it is that the grown-ups are having for dinner, put them on your kid's high chair tray, and go. Other BLWers don't cut up bite-sized pieces but rather leave the food in big enough portions that they kid can just hold the whole thing in their hands and bite it off (ie, a banana or a chicken leg), but we were a little too paranoid about choking to go that route. BLW has really worked out great for us. Baboo LOVES the fact that he's eating what we're eating (when we were doing purees, he'd sometimes push them away and reach for our plates!), and it's less waste and let's face it--less work! I'm all about parenting on the path of least resistence.

So what does he eat? Just about everything. Our Sweet Baboo has tried and loved:
-Pasta (either with butter and cheese or tomato sauce)
-Pitas with hummus
-Avocado (spread on a pita or cut into chunks)
-Strips of rotisserie chicken
-Dried apricots (cut into slivers to eliminate choking risk)
-Cut up banana
-Homemade pizza
-Sliced apple
-Sliced pear
-Mandarin orange slices
-Mango chunks
-Blueberry muffin
-Strips of toast and jam
-Perogies with sour cream
-Chunks of Mozzarella, Marble and/or Cheddar Cheese (and a grated version of those cheeses as well)
-Steamed carrot sticks
-Steamed broccoli

And the list goes on. We've also given him some more traditional foods that we had to feed him with a spoon, but those weren't purees. Those things include cottage cheese, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, butternut squash soup, sweet potato and yogurt. We just aren't ready for the disaster that would follow giving him a bowl of oatmeal to feed himself. I guarantee you the bowl would be on the floor within seconds.

Our kid LOVES table food and he loves BLW. It works great for our family, and if you have a kid whose getting to the age where they're going to start solids soon, I'd recommend giving it a try!


There's no Party and I'll Cry if I Want to

>> Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So, as much as it pains me to say this, my Sweet Baboo will be a year old in just a couple of months. I can't really believe it. I don't know where this year has gone and I really, really wish it would slow down, but there it is. And I will admit, that part of the reason why I am dreading his first birthday stems from an inferiority complex that I have. I cannot throw my son the first birthday celebration that he deserves.

I have been thinking about this since he was about six months old, and you think that four months later I'd have come to terms with it, but I'm still just as sad.

We live in a tiny apartment with barely enough room for ourselves, let alone to entertain others. That in itself isn't a huge problem. There are other places to have a party. We originally thought we'd have it at my parents house. But as readers of this blog know, my parents are a big ball of issues. It is fairly impossible to involve them in any special occasion and have it still remain special. They are physically incapable of not starting huge arguments that ruin everything, adhering to a schedule of any kind, or generally participating in civilized society. I know that they would just ruin it, and all my hard work, and I would be livid and devastated. My extended family has similar issues. They are two hours late for EVERYTHING. If I were to hold the party at a picnic area in the park, for example, they would all roll in after our reservation had expired. I would plan the party to take place between Baboo's naps, and they would show up after he'd fallen asleep. And I am not exaggerating. They were two hours late to my baby shower. They were two hours late to Baboo's christening. And don't even get me STARTED on the fiasco that they turned my wedding day into.

The Hubbs family is across the country, so they're out. There's a chance that we'll be in their city this summer around Baboo's birthday, and we would LOVE to hold the party there and invite them as well as old friends (we used to live there as well), but here's the problem: The Hubbs parents are divorced and remarried, and they would never consent to being in the same room or park or general vicinity of one another. They each have had new children with their new spouses, but none of the children have ever met. The Hubbs is the only one of his siblings who has met his half siblings on the other side. I do not feel comfortable only inviting one side of the family to something like that.

So then I thought, we could just invite friends. We could freeze family out in its entirety, and just invite friends. Except we really don't have any. We moved to a different city right after Baboo was born, and we've both been so busy with school and taking care of him that we haven't met too many people. I joined a mom's group, but I only know the women on a surface level so far, and I'd feel weird inviting them to my son's party. It would feel gift grabby, and I'd be embarassed that a bunch of people I hardly know would be the only guests in attendance. The Hubbs has met a couple people at school with kids that we could invite, but we feel like it would be the same thing. Just weird, you know? We were hoping we'd know them better by July, but it's only two months away and it still doesn't feel right.

And then there's the issue of the preparation. If I was going to have a party for him, I'd have to start planning NOW because I'd want it to be GREAT. It needn't be over the top in any way, but I would at least want it to be put together. I'd want the colours to coordinate, I'd want the decorations to look like they didn't come out of the discount bin at the dollar store, I'd want the food to be delicious. I feel like its too late to put together anything good.

A couple of months ago The Hubbs and I talked about all of this and decided we'd just celebrate on our own, just the three of us. We'd have a cake and good food and decorations, but we wouldn't invite anyone else. Then we'd take Baboo someplace really special for the first time, like the zoo or Marine Land. We'd buy him a special birthday outfit to wear, maybe attach a helium ballon to his arm for the day so that everyone would know he's the birthday boy. We'd get him something REALLY special for his gift--something he would love. And I thought it could be really special and really great. I mean, he has no idea what a birthday is, how important could it be that he have a big party? So that was our plan, and we were set.

And then I saw this. And I wanted to cry. Partially because I could never do that. Never in a million years. I could start planning now for Baboo's 16th birthday, and it would fall short of that. But another reason I wanted to cry is because I don't have family and friends that would make all of that effort worthwhile. I don't have a big group of people willing to come together, on time, to celebrate my son. Kelle Hampton says that celebrating a birthday is celebrating life. That's why she goes all out.

Does the fact that I am not "going all out" mean that I am not celebrating my son's life? Does his life mean less to me than her kids' lives mean to her because I am not throwing annual birthday bashes that put my wedding to shame? Doubtful, yes. But still. It makes me really sad that my son will never have a celebration like that because I don't have the means, the talent, but most importantly the support and love of others to make it happen. Even if I could sew costumes for all my guests and hand engrave their names on a million luxury party favours, I would be doing it for people that I am not close to. I would be doing it for people that I cannot trust to understand how important this day is to me, and to respect it. When you celebrate something really important and meaningful, you want those closest to you there. My son's life and birth mean everything to me--and the people closest to me are him and my husband. So maybe its unfair that he won't get a big, elaborate first birthday. But I hope he won't feel any less loved.


Musings from the Mom of an Almost One-Year-Old (Part I)

>> Sunday, May 16, 2010

I am feeling really weird, ladies. My little guy is almost one--I can barely believe it :( Along with this huge milestone comes a lot of stress and anxiety and re-evaluating our parenting practices because soon we are going to have a toddler, rather than a baby. Attachment Parenting can be draining, and a lot of the things we've been doing we've said we'd be done with when he was a year old, and then things could get (kind of) back to normal. I'm going to do a little mini-series on my thoughts of moving from the AP mama of a baby to the AP mama of a one year old.

Part I: Weaning

Lately I've been feeling a lot of pressure and stress. For one, we always said we'd start weaning him at around a year. Just thinking about it is enough to make me have a mild panic attack. I don't particularly WANT to wean him, but I also don't want to continue until he's two, and I feel like the longer we wait, the harder its going to be on him.

I am fine with continuing to breastfeed him at bedtime for longer, but I think at the one year mark I'd like to try cutting out daytime sessions. I just have no idea how to go about it. Originally we were going to cut out one feeding a week for eight weeks until we were done, which seemed like it would be a gentle method. However, the idea of him being upset that he can't breastfeed at certain times during the day bothers me. He takes bottles regularly, but I don't like the idea of him wanting to nurse and me telling him no in the morning, but then letting him do it in the afternoon. It seems like it would just confuse him and be stressful for everyone to try to hold him off until the next feeding.

So then I thought, maybe I could just take something to dry up my milk supply. Then I could let him comfort nurse all he wants, but if he actually wants to drink, he'd have to take a bottle. I think this could either work really well, or be really bad.

Then I thought, I could always put vinegar or something on my nipples during the day so that they taste bad, and then it would be his CHOICE to take a bottle. Then at night I'd wash it off so that they wouldn't taste bad, and he'd still be able to night nurse for as long as he needs to. But that seems like a kind of sad way to end something so special.

I am really having a hard time with this. One of the main reasons I want to wean him soon is that it is getting really difficult to nurse in public. He is distractable and wiggly and he pops off a million times. That's fine at home, but out and about I am not comfortable with being totally exposed like that. I'm also not really fine with him just randomly pulling up my shirt to get milk, and I'd prefer that he not. Is there a way I could teach him that we can nurse at home, but not in public?

I need advice. I'm stressing.

More Musings from the Mom of an Almost One Year Old to come. . .


Happy Mothers Day, Mamas!

>> Sunday, May 9, 2010

Celebrate being the most important woman in the world to someone.
Celebrate doing the most difficult but most rewarding job there is.
Celebrate being an every day hero.

Happy Mothers Day :)



  © Free Blogger Templates Wild Birds by 2008

Back to TOP