Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A settlement of differences

When I was pregnant with Daisy, I read everything I could about parenting philosophies: attachment parenting, baby wise, co-sleeping and cry-it-out (CIO), bedtime routines and schedules. I read about the dangers of co-sleeping and the evils of CIO. I read about the pros and cons of pacifier use and the benefits of developing a breastfeeding relationship.

I swore up and down that I would never co-sleep, that my baby would sleep in their crib every night, all night long. And more often than not these days, at least one of our girls is in our bed at some point in the night. I swore that I would never endorse the CIO method, and yet I sit here researching those dreaded sleep-training practices, to help Lily fall and stay asleep at night and at nap. I swore that I was never going to let my baby use a pacifier. How could parents DARE let their innocent babes use pacifiers? Didn’t they know the correlation of ear infections or the long-term effects of their teeth? And yet, with Lily, I find myself keeping a pacifier in the front pocket of the ergo, in her car seat, another in the stroller and one or two in her bedroom. Just in case, you know?

For the most part, J and I have stuck to our guns. We wanted to cloth diaper and we did. We did not want to use formula and we have not. We wanted to make our own baby food and we have. We wanted to try baby wearing, and we have. We believe in family meal times, so regardless of time or place we eat at least one meal a day together as a family.

If I have learned anything over these past three years, however, it is that compromise is the name of the parenting game. I swore that I would never clothe a little girl in pink – and today my daughters’ closet looks like a Pepto Bismol commercial, complete with Disney princess logo clothing. I swore that I would not let my children watch TV – and most days of the week Daisy watches an episode of Curious George or Sesame Street while I make dinner or work. I thought I would never use a Sippy cup, but lo and behold, Sippy cups of water litter my home. And, of course, there are the pacifiers.

These are my nevers, the things I claimed that I would never do, and then so totally did. Most of the time there’s no need to compromise what you have faith in as a parent. But it seems to me that just about every parent compromises at least once.

Or, if they are like me, like five billion times.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Nine months later

To my little alligator,


Last Tuesday you turned nine months old. NINE MONTHS! At nine months of age, you give kisses on command, wave goodbye, and clap after each and every meal. You pull yourself up; you crawl up steps and give high fives. You babble and laugh and squeal and squawk. You splash in the bathtub; you pound on your wooden blocks, you crawl wickedly fast across the room to knock over big sister’s tower. You recognize the rhythms in your favorite books. And you scream.

Lily, my love, you have lungs made of steel and you aren’t afraid to use them.

You are not allowed to play in the dishwasher, screaming ensues. You are hungry: screaming. The sun is in your eyes: screaming. Your sister took your ball: screaming. You need your diaper changed: screaming. You don’t want your diaper changed: screaming. You milk teeth are cutting through: screaming. You’re not ready for a nap: screaming. You are ready for a nap: screaming. You have been awake for 30 seconds and no one has retrieved you to nurse: screaming.

It’s like you’re trying to make me lose my marbles.

Your father and I celebrated your nine-month birthday by dropping you and your sister off with your maternal grandparents and taking an overnight trip to Palm Springs. For the first 60 minutes in the car, we sat in silence, and enjoyed the peace. Then, we decided to check in and see how it was going. We hung up seconds later when we heard the screaming. We decided it was good to be away.


Your sister was dressed as a rainbow ballerina fairy (although she added her new Mouse ears from our recent Disneyland trip, she’s missing her decorated wings, and you can’t see her rainbow-hued wand) and you were the cutest little monkey for Halloween.

ali_9mo_1 You have already learned the way to my heart: your smile.

Besides suffering mild hearing loss, you are such a joy to be around. People constantly exclaim at what a happy baby you are, smiling, laughing and flirting. You love to be held, you love to cuddle, and you love to be within an arms distance of me. I’ll tell you, it’s the ultimate ego booster. You seriously HATE to get your diaper changed and fight through the whole ordeal, and if I make a split-second falter, you’re already halfway across the room with a naked bum staring back at me. It’s hard to believe that you are the same helpless newborn we brought home from the hospital nine months ago. I am constantly amazed at how much you have changed in such a short time. While you’ll always be my baby, I’m beginning to catch glimpses of the toddler you are becoming, and I see many temper tantrums in our future.

But, Lily, my love, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

I love you more than all the stars in the sky and the waters in the ocean.