I finally laid hands on bringing up Bebe and flat-out finished reading it in a day and a half. In hindsight, I should have just bought it to read every time I felt like an ogre for making rules and sticking to them. But the retail price of the book was $25.99 and I couldn’t get myself to shell out so much since I knew the local library has a copy that I could get with some advance planning. So, I went with the latter option and finished reading the book a couple of days ago.
A number of things really resonated with me. For instance, I have always spoken to DD. Even when she was a wee little baby and slept through most of the day I’d keep a running commentary going about everything I was doing. I didn’t think she understood much but I wanted her to know the cadence of my voice, to listen to sounds that various words make. DD said her first words at the age of 4 months. Everyone in the family maintains it was due to my incessant chattering. My 12 month old used to converse in complete sentences.
With food too, I never fed her anything other than what we were eating. DD ate sambhar, rasam, daal, sabzi everything as soon as she turned 10 months old. She’s a regular foodie now and loves trying out new cuisines. Some of her favorite veggies are broccoli and avocados. She eats all kinds of fruits, preferring them over candy.For that I have DH to thank, since he’s the fruit fan – the more exotic, the better. We affectionately call her the cheesehead. She goes to the grocery store and hangs out at the cheese counter sampling various types of cheese and offering up opinions. It has become such an important part of our grocery buying experience that the lady that manages the cheese counter actually sets aside some unusual ones for DD to try.
What we messed up on though was her sleep habits. I spent 3 months in India right after DD was born since only my dad was able to make it to the US for her birth, none of her other grandparents were able to get a visa. So, in a bid to introduce her to the family and for some much-needed R&R, I left for home and proceeded to stay there until DD was nearly 7 months old. Prior to us leaving for India, DD would get a bottle at 10:00 PM and proceed to sleep for 6 hours waking up in the wee hours of the morning for her next feed, post which she would sleep another 6 hours. In India, though, her grandmammas, both of them would pick her up when she would whimper in the night and soothe her back to sleep. I was thrilled at the time since it meant, I did not have to wake up. 3 months after birth , I was enjoying 10-11 hours of sleep/night. What’s not to love, right? But, DD got into the habit of being rocked to sleep. It posed quite a problem when we got back and it took me the next 3 months to get her back on a sleep schedule. We had to use the “cry it out method” to teach her to soothe herself at night. I wouldn’t have worried too much about her sleep schedule if not for the fact that she’s a light sleeper and likely to get up at the slightest suggestion of sound. The lack of sleep then started impacting her weight gain as well. It became imperative that she sleep in her crib and preferably in her own room if she wasn’t to be disturbed by DH getting up to get a glass of water or using the restroom. At 10 months, the DD got into a sleep routine that both DH and I were fierce about. We’d happily leave dinner parties, sometimes before dinner was served just to make her 9:00 PM sleep schedule.
Having read the book now, when DD is 8 years old gives me satisfaction and makes me a little annoyed as well. Satisfaction – since, now I know, not everything I did was terribly wrong or detrimental to the well-being of my child. Annoyed – because, had someone said the things that are being said in the book, way back then, I wouldn’t have spent quite so much time feeling guilty or inadequate. Like BEV says, motherhood, to me, is not a calling. It is something I enjoy, immensely. However, I’m also clear-headed enough to see that certain behaviors that are cute now or are easily dismissed because DD’s young will later earn her the label of being a spoilt brat. In addition to being a mom, I am a woman who enjoys her books, her movies and time with her husband. I have never trusted a baby sitter so the latter has suffered to some extent. However, I am making amends for it. As DD grows up, I want her to understand that just being a mom is not the be-all and end-all of life. I am sure DD enjoys a mom who can talk to her about American history, music and Tom and Jerry more than one who schlepps around after her child all day long.
What I am learning about motherhood everyday is, there are no set rules, there is no manual. What works for me may not work for everyone else and vice versa. So I am throwing public opinion out the door. I am going to be guided by instinct and by what I want DD to be when she grows up. A child who’s good, happy, content, compassionate and knows the value of things as opposed to the price.
Hey, I may just write a book about it when this mommy gig is “done”. What say??