Not too long ago, I warmed up to the idea of napping.
Up until that point, I’d never in my entire life enjoyed a mid-day snooze.
While in many countries afternoon napping — known as the siesta — is a tradition melded deep into the social fabric, here in Canada this type of healthy, well-balanced living has a tendency to be viewed as a stunt pulled by lazy underachievers.
Oh, how wrong we hard-nosed, hardworking Canucks are.
The siesta is where it’s at.
That's what I discovered nine months ago when our son was born. I was clocking only hour-long stints of uninterrupted sleep most nights and I was weak, exhausted, cranky and most definitely wondering when old the adage, ‘parenting is the most rewarding job in the world’ would actually come true.
It's no secret that sleep deprivation is a powerful torture device used on hostages of war. Make no mistake: New moms are hostages. While their captors usually come into this world weighing less than 10 lbs. and might seem more like boneless chickens than powerful dictators, these screaming little creatures are calling the shots.
But, one day, I managed to escape my sleep-deprived captivity.
It happened quite by accident.
While nursing our baby in the big bed (which I often did during the day before sneaking out once he’d fallen asleep), I too had accidentally drifted off.
More than an hour later we both awoke. Not sure about him, but this cat felt like a million bucks.
That sealed the deal — I was hooked.
For two months, I reveled in this ritual. After our daily rests, I'd take a nice long stretch and then face the rest of the day feeling (almost) human again.
Yes, mom and baby were perfectly in sync and it looked as though I might survive the long, unforgiving, 24-seven grind of new motherhood after all.
Note to all you sleepy-eyed moms out there: If you can wrangle up some extra zzz during the day, do it. It's a small piece of dream-filled heaven, I tell you.
Sadly, almost as quick as it began, our co-resting and nesting began to recede into the background.
Our son was mastering rolling, so to prevent him from rolling right off the bed and onto the floor, he had to start napping in his crib.
Yes, our time together curled up peacefully under the covers was over and with that came the end of my siesta.
He needed his space, and so did I.
Now when he naps, it’s some of the only baby-free time I have, so it’s spent writing, catching up on emails and sometimes just relishing in the silence.
Though those early days are not that far away, I already miss being able to slow down long enough to hit the snooze button. Mostly though, I miss the closeness: Just the two of us breathing together in the dark.
These moments were magical and, in a blink-of-an-eye, they were gone.
But while those precious afternoon slumbers lasted, they were the sweetest rewards a tired new mom could ever ask for.
In our household, no means … well, we don’t exactly know what it means, but it doesn’t yet mean no.
Our baby has just turned nine months and suddenly he’s on a mission. Literally overnight he decided it was time to bust out some new skills. He’s figured out how to pull himself up to a seated position, worm wiggle his way across a room, and now he’s realized that by grabbing onto inanimate objects, he can pull himself up.
And just as suddenly as the arrival of these milestones, my hubby and I have been ‘no, no, no-ing’ all over the place.
Baby discovers electrical socket. No!
Baby tries to pull chair down. NO!
Baby reaches for the garbage can; figures out how to open drawers and, like a bee to honey, aims straight for the corners of walls and every piece of furniture with a sharp edge attached. No! No! No! No!
He has snagged my hairbrush and dumped the contents of my makeup bag all over the place. He has typed random gibberish using my computer keyboard, nabbed our cell phones and makes a move for the remote control every chance he gets.
Indeed, operation ‘Baby Proofing’ has arrived. In other words, another big shopping expedition is around the corner.
Since our son's transformation into Mr. Mobile, I've become aware that our home is a potential death trap.
An oversized TV sits atop a table not bolted down. Then there are wires. What the heck do you do about wires? We have outlets at baby level all over the place (why these scary sockets are of interest at all is rather perplexing) and then there’s the furniture. Really, what kind of Dodo brain puts sharp edges on furniture anyway?
Everywhere I look, edge, edge, edge, edge.
So yes, in the past week or so, we've introduced ‘no.’ Does he understand this two-letter word? No, probably not.
He often responds with a yummy gummy grin and sometimes the kid even giggles. Apparently the serious mommy tone I've been trying to master is quite funny. The nerve.
But of course, like almost everything child-related, using it is controversial.
According to some studies, children who are told ‘no’ too often exhibit poorer language skills than those who receive positive feedback.
Instead of ‘no’ there is an entire school of alternatives available, such as saying yes with conditions, explaining your feelings regarding the offending behavior and negotiating.
On his website, Dr. William Sears (author of the famous tome, The Baby Book) offers 18 ways to say no positively, such as this handy tidbit: “You can't have the knife, but you can have the ball.”
Instead they chime: ‘Consider the consequences.’
Of course this approach is about as ludicrous as trying to get a bear to befriend a fish or training the family cat to use the toilet.
I recognize it’s still early days for us, but I suspect no will become an important part of teaching our child right from wrong. Eventually no will mean no. Or so we hope.
We won’t overuse it and we will be creative whenever we can, but we’re not going to shy away from it either.
Thing is, we're responsible for setting limits, ensuring his safety and letting him know we’re the bosses here.
After all, if he could look after himself, he wouldn’t be heading straight for pointy corners and scary electrical sockets, now would he?
No, no he wouldn’t.
So, until that day comes, mom and dad will just have to know best.
Now meet my current-day brain. It’s a rather sunny place filled with rattling toys, talking puppets and very silly animal books.
Oh, and it’s stuffed to the brim with children’s songs.
“I've gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out! Shake, shake, shake my sillies out! Shake, shake, shake my sillies out and wiggle my waggles away!”
And it keeps on going …
“I've gotta clap, clap, clap my crazies out! Clap, clap, clap my crazies out! Clap, clap, clap my crazies out and wiggle my waggles away!”
If only I could clap my crazies out.
But no, these brain-sticking jingles will not quit.
Whether I am shopping, eating dinner, walking the dog, heck even when I am sleeping, those catchy tunes are there.
Recently while having lunch with a friend, they were inescapable.
“Dance your fingers up! Dance your fingers down! Dance your fingers to the side! Dance them all around.”
Chew. Chew. Chew. Sip coffee. Try to focus on adult conversation.
“Dance them on your shoulders! Dance them on your head! Dance them on your tummy and lay them down to bed!”
Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Sip of coffee. Respond to friend’s question. Silently curse the dancing fingers song.
Seriously, it’s enough to drive a person clap, clap ‘n’ crazy.
Oh sure, like most humans, I love music.
In fact, when I was younger (read: delusional) I often fantasized about becoming a rock star when my ‘then’ band shared a dingy jam space with a bunch of other ‘then’ bands.
While the odds of making it big was about as likely as Jimi Hendrix coming back from the dead to perform a private show for my family (we really weren’t very good), it was still fun to think about.
Things certainly are different today.
Now it's all about baby-friendly classics such as Itsy Bitsy Spider, which for two weeks was our go-to solution for keeping our son's tears at bay. Then, one day, Itsy Bitsy stopped working. Suddenly whenever we busted out the tune, he gave us a look that said, ‘Is that all you got?’
Well no, sonny boy, it isn’t.
And that’s not all! Who can forget Ring around the Rosie, This Little Piggy, Hickory, Dickory Dock and our large collection of instrumental lullabye renditions of famous rock bands, known as the Rockabye Baby series?
We’ve got a library filled with enough sickly sweet material to entertain the kid with from morning ‘til night.
And it’s not going away anytime soon. Sigh.
But, on the bright side, I am singing now more than ever.
Sure, I only have an audience of one and I often sing off-key, but my adoring little fan gives me plenty of love. Far more than any packed stadium ever could.
Yes, I am finally, a star.
Of the Twinkle, Twinkle variety, of course.