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April 23rd, 2009

One week

I saw One Week today with my boy and my father at my local Movies for Mommies screening.

While the plot was a little thin (man finds out he has terminal cancer and takes off on a bike across the country to find himself), the film was well made with outstanding cinematography and an interesting narration. It was a nice treat to see my fine country actually depicted in film for what it is, without an attempt to Americanise cities and towns that are uniquely Canadian. It was also cute to see a brief scene shot outside the very theatre that I was sitting in.

What struck me in particular was the following question: what would I do if I knew that I only had a short time left to live?

In my youth, inspired by the film, Six Weeks, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life before I died. I maintained this list for years, adding new items constantly, and occasionally crossing off something that I actually did. As the years progressed, I was no longer interested in fulfilling some of the objectives on my list, but I would not permit myself to remove them because I had not actually completed them. From time to time, I would reorganize the list by alphabetising it, listing in order of priority, or grouping by theme. I spent much time focusing on my list without actually taking steps to do the things that the list included.

Interestingly, I was just thinking about my want list and wondering what I did with it. I considered recreating it and internally debated about whether such a list would shackle me with unlived dreams or set me free to realize some of those dreams.

My biggest "want" since childhood was to be a mommy. I also wanted to experience being pregnant. Even with all of the challenges of parenthood, I relish the fact everyday that my biggest dream in life has come true. And it really is as fabulous and I thought it would be.

As I watched the film today, I briefly thought about all the places that I wanted to travel to, and all the life experiences that I wanted to have. I then looked at the amazing little boy who was cuddling in my lap and realised that if this is all my life is to be, I am okay with that.

The sleep book told me to do it.

We were at a program today and another mom was raving about a sleep book. It wasn't one that I had heard of. She said that the book recommends waking up every 3 hours during the night and nursing your baby while he/she sleeps. As she explained, then if your baby wakes up during the night, you can safely ignore him/her because you know that he/she isn't hungry.

I obviously gave her a look indicately my belief that that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, because she offered gratutiously, "that is what the book says to do."

Really? Are we so insecure in our parenting choices that we have to rely on a book to give us permission to ignore our babies' cries?

I will admit to relying heavily on the works of Dr. William Sears, the creator of the attachment parenting philosophy. That said, his books confirm what I already believe; that babies should be held as much as possible, that it is safe and wonderful to sleep with your babies, that babies should be breastfed for as long as possible, that we need to fuel their little bodies with nutritious food, and that babies cry for a reason. I didn't need a book to tell me what to think.

My son sometimes wakes in the night, and almost never needs more that a snuggle to fall back asleep. In fact, lately, he doesn't even cry, he simply crawls over to me or my husband in bed and curls up against us. I believe that he has taught himself to soothe himself this way, and he doesn't need to cry to get the affection he needs.

I'm 35 years old, and sometimes I wake up in the night needing some comfort. I cannot understand why any one would deny an infant the easiest thing in the world to give.

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