Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lazy Parenting

I would say my current parenting philosophy is "the path of least resistance".  Also known as "do whatever works right now and adjust as needed".  Speaking of assvice, probably the only good piece of parenting advice Adam has gotten from his "bros" at work is this: you can't force your kid to sleep or go to the bathroom.  Once you accept this little bit of truth, you save yourself a lot of grief in trying to force the baby on a nap & sleep schedule (or to potty train, but we're not there yet thank goodness).  So... when Avery won't go to sleep at night and I'm awake walking her around to get all her wiggles out, I just keep telling myself it's ok, she'll sleep eventually, I can't force her to sleep, I just have to accept that she's awake and needs to walk around for a little while before settling down.  It doesn't stop me from feeling exasperated about it, but it does help to put it in perspective.

Similarly, when we have a day like yesterday when she just does not want to nap, I can give myself a break.  I don't bother spending hours attempting to get her to nap.  I give it the old college try, and if she's still bright-eyed with her head swiveling around like a little gopher out of his hole, I just bring her back downstairs to play for a while.  Yes, she was extra-fussy yesterday and it was really wearing me down by 4:00 when she had only napped for 30 minutes despite having been offered three opportunities to nap.  Did I want her to nap?  God, yes.  Did she need to nap?  Most definitely.  But I can't force her to sleep!  All I can do is offer the opportunity and create the right conditions.

It's days like yesterday that make me wish I was doing something else other than parenting full time.  How nice it would have been to sit quietly at my desk at work and focus on something for a few hours, and not be bothered by a whining infant who keeps arching her back and kicking away from me in an apparent suicidal swan dive.  I would have enjoyed wandering down the hall to have a conversation about something worldly and important. 

But, it's also days like yesterday that I'm so glad I'm here with Avery.  When she is extra fussy and demanding, I know she truly needs me more.  As exhausting as it is to parent her when she is in a mood like that, I'm simultaneously glad it's me and not a nanny or day care, where she might not have gotten the constant attention she was demanding.

Besides, most of the time I get this:

I've rambled and gotten myself on a tangent. I'm not sure what my point is anymore. I guess what I want to say is, it's like that Zen parable about the man about to be eaten by the tiger...

A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

Yeah. It's like that.

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