She opens her mouth to take a cheerio like it’s communion, something holy and to be savored. So strange to have a high chair in the kitchen again, the dog sniffing hopefully as she eats, knowing that at some point something tasty will fall on the floor. Soon, too, there will be morsels dropped intentionally, both parties benefiting from dinner time.
Less holy is nap time, where she is trying to learn to sleep on her own. For the past nine months, she has fallen asleep in my arms or in the bed next to me, burrowing into my breasts and drinking herself drunk from the goodness. She still wants to, crying pitifully from her playpen where I have laid her with hugs and kisses, and there is nothing holy about feeling like the devil as she sobs.
I hate this and I love this, having a baby so different from all of the others. It has never once occurred to me in all my years of parenting that I would even CONSIDER, much less try, letting a baby cry herself to sleep. Never. In fact, in my not-so-recent past I have accused people who do this of being cruel and heartless, because to abandon a baby in order to impose some sense of normality on their lives just seemed so selfish! After all, if one didn’t want to be inconvenienced,perhaps one ought not to have had children, right?
What I know now is that is isn’t about being selfish or wanting the old life back, at least not for me. It is, simply, about somehow trying to maintain any shred of sanity that might still be lurking inside me. I love her so much it hurts, but when she cries for me and wants only me and will only sleep with me holding her close, god it’s just so hard. From conception, she has been different from the others, so much harder than I thought she would be-and it’s not like I went into this without having some idea how hard parenting is!
I used to think I was an Attachment Parent, have really identified with that ‘movement’ so to speak, but now I have to rethink that-because no attachment parent would be sitting her listening to her baby cry. There is guilt here, believe me. And I truly don’t know if I will be able to continue this, because after day three, there is no appreciable change; she just doesn’t sleep.
Maybe the holiness in all of this comes from the putting everything else aside and simply loving this baby to sleep. Maybe the communion of breast milk and cereal is where her peace comes, and maybe I will find my own peace with the situation. Right now I just know that I am praying for some kind of guidance.