Posts Tagged ‘intentional parenting’

Too Tired to Worry about Baby #4

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

too tired 3I joke that baby #4 is my tagalong. I call him the “sleep anywhere baby” because I’m not sure he’s ever had a proper nap. He sleeps on my back in the ergo. In the bike trailer. In the stroller. In a shopping cart. On the bathroom floor. Or snuggled up against a wall. Obviously napping when the baby naps doesn’t apply here. Although I’m so tired that most days I probably could also curl up against a wall and doze off for a bit, too.

I have a dear friend I met while pregnant with my fourth baby. She was pregnant with her first at the time. We had the same “estimated due date” which formed an almost instant connection between us. Our little ones were born a week apart and so there has been a lot of shared experiences on our motherhood journey; sometimes with elation (He’s walking!) and sometimes with tears (He’s awake all night long!). We have been meeting monthly for breakfast since about 35 weeks pregnant and now our little ones are almost two years old! I cherish our breakfast dates and look forward to them each month.

On our recent breakfast date she shared with me that she had made an outline stating her educational goals for her son. As I listened to her share, I was fascinated. But also trying to scan my brain in effort to come up with what educational goals I had for my own toddler. I wanted to feel worthy of contributing to our conversation. She sounded so wise, caring, and passionate about her son’s educational journey. I admired her. And wondered if I used to be like her when my oldest was my only? Did I ponder with great deliberation my hopes and dreams for him? too tired 1Surely I did. It just all feels like a blur and I am too tired to even remember what that was like; to have the space in my brain to ponder such thoughts. The reality is most days the goal is just to get through the day…and I don’t even necessarily to do that with intention. And if I did at one point have an outline of educational goals for my oldest son, they have now been replaced with the primary goal of not being late to school. With the secondary goal being to achieve the primary goal with as little yelling as possible. That’s the painful truth of our days.

My conversation with my friend stuck with me and I really started thinking about how differently I mothered my first.

Baby #1: Starting at just a few weeks old I would sit with him in the rocking chair and read aloud to him because that’s what all the research on literature and brain development told me to do.
Baby #4: Have I ever read him a book? Wait there was that one time I gave him a book to hold because he was fussing in his stroller. Mmmm, actually that was just a pamphlet of the metro schedule I was trying to figure out as we were dashing through the station trying not to miss the train. But I’m pretty sure it had some words and number on it. That counts as developing early literacy skills, right?

Baby #1: While bathing him I would sing little songs and play little games with him. Post-bath he would get a relaxing baby massage with organic essential oils because that’s what all the research on bonding, attachment, and language development told me to do.
Baby #4: I don’t even know the last time he had a bath. The only song he’s probably ever heard me sing is Happy Birthday the few times a year we sing it. And I’ve rubbed coconut oil on his butt a few times due to the diaper rash he got because I forgot to change his diaper. That’s kind of like a baby massage, right?

Baby #1: Introduction to foods was a deliberate and well thought-out process full of homemade organic foods presented in a way to encourage self-feeding and promote a balanced palate, because that’s what all the research on health and nutrition told me to do.
Baby #4: His first food was sprinkles that my middle son fed him when he was five months old. But I think they were the ones dyed with beetroot and carrots which is kind of like eating a vegetable, right?

You get my drift here. The capacity I had to pour attention AND intention into mothering has changed. Drastically. And I almost forgot you can do more as a mother than just survive through the day to day hustle of getting everyone where they need to be with whatever it is they need. And honestly I don’t even juggle that simple task very well

too tired 475 percent of the time.

Although talking with my friend about her goals for her son was refreshing and inspiring. Her enthusiasm was delightful and even contagious. It made me remember a part of myself I had long forgotten. And she’s still there; that attentive, loving, caring mother filled with a deep desire to nurture and guide her children. That mom exists
somewhere within me. It’s just that most days she is heavily buried under a mounting to-do list and a never ending pile of laundry.

So while I don’t have the ability to provide my toddler with the same individualized focus I did with baby #1, I remind myself that he’s still exposed to and enjoying an enriching, stimulating babyhood. It just looks slightly different.

Baby #1: Attends baby story time at the library with costumes, music, and dancing.
Baby #4: Attends brother’s school play with costumes, music and dancing.

Baby #1: Plays alongside peers during visits to children’s museum, playgrounds, and splash parks.
Baby #4: Plays alongside older brothers (and their friends) in the woods behind our house.

Baby #1: Receives a lot of attention and affection from me.
Baby #4: Receives a lot of collective attention and affection from his older brothers and myself.

It helps me to see that baby #4 is blessed with a busy family schedule and surrounded by people who love and care for him. In a way it’s simply a parallel journey between baby #1 and baby #4.

BOTH #1 and #4: Have a mom who expresses a wide range of emotions from silly/happy to frustrated/overwhelmed. And at the heart of each day knows she is doing the best she can at any given moment by approaching motherhood which humility and hopefully a little grace along the way.

May you find a glimmer of joy and assurance wherever you are in your own journey as a parent.

Sarah is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer.  She blogs about health, nutrition, and exercise at fitafter.com