Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Like a prayer

I don’t begrudge celebrities like Brooke Shields or Madonna their 10 million dollar homes or their personal trainers. What I covet most about their lives is the fact that they can be mothers without having to deal with what I consider to be the single most frustrating aspect of motherhood: being forced to wake a sleeping baby. I find myself in this agonizing position every day, often more than once a day. And I curse Angelina Jolie every time. I would gladly live her paparazzi-filled, have-to-buy-an-African-country-to-give-birth-in-peace life if only I didn’t have to separate a perfectly serene child D from her crib every time I have to take child A to school or pick up child C from preschool or deliver child B to piano lessons. I have long wished for a live-in nanny, not to help raise my child, but simply to listen next to her door when I have to leave the house for a few minutes. Really I don’t need a nanny at all – just a glorified baby monitor.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Nora were a heavy sleeper. Maybe she could continue her nap in the car or just take it when we got back home. But, in fact, Nora is the world’s lightest sleeper. Our sweet little Horton will wake to the sound of a microscopic Who on a piece of clover a hundred miles away (let alone the thunderous rampages of 3 older brothers down the hall outside her door). And at present, she only falls asleep one way: nursing. Then comes the delicate 12-step process of transferring her from my arms to her crib. Often she makes it to about Step 9 – where her lower half is actually in contact with her mattress while her upper half rests on my arm with me bending over her standing on my toes to keep the crib railing from crushing my ribs – but as I slowly extricate my now-tingling arm from behind her neck, she opens her beautiful blue eyes, appraises the situation (“hmmm….bedroom ceiling, wooden bars, Mom looking desperate – this smells like abandonment”) and lets out a wail that tells me no amount of head rubbing or soothing lullabies are going to get her back to sleep. Maybe in 2 or 3 hours I can try again, starting with Step 1: nursing.

You can see why it pains me terribly to have to wake her up. But I obviously can’t leave her alone in the house and I have to get Ethan to school, and my personal assistants are all busy getting things ready for the Academy Awards, so I stand over her crib, knowing full well that she needs the sleep and that I need her to sleep, but I can only postpone the inevitable for so long. I grit my teeth, curse Angelina, silence the voice of Dr. Weissbluth in my head (motto: NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY!!) and reach in to pick her up.

Maybe I cannot identify with what it’s like for that other Madonna to raise a child, but I can tell what the Madonna in Botticelli's painting is thinking. She’s thinking:

a) “Aw. Look how peaceful and sweet he is when he’s sleeping”

b) “Please stay asleep. Please oh please oh please.”


c) “How on earth am I going to get through Step 10 – freeing the hem of my dress from under the baby’s bottom – without waking him up???”


Kimberly said...

My husband just shot me a startled look because I laughed out loud at the computer screen. Hee hee...I found c) to be very insightful.

Have you thought about going door to door in your neighbourhood, begging for a cup of sleep for your poor wee babe?

Waking babies is one of the nastiest things a mom has to do to her kids - so sorry you have to do that every day!

Anonymous said...

So so funny & so so true. While I was trying to put my almost one year old I got so fed up with all the whispers I announced there was a new rule "NO TALKING 'TIL THE BABY IS ASLEEP!" Not only was a serious but I was so desperate. Any voice will peak this kids interest & it drives me nuts... so much for even getting to step two!

Anonymous said...

I already feel like I am running around crazy and I only have a Thing 1 and a Thing 2. I don't know how you do it with a Thing 3 and a Thing 4! I would so love a live-in-nanny or a glorified baby monitor. If we had what these celebrities had, we'd act and look like perfection. Now if they had our lives, I think we would all have a good laugh trying to watch them hold things together. So more power to all of us and all the strength and character we are building. When push comes to shove, though, I am grateful for my humble and simple life.

But if I really could have someone put my child to sleep or if I had someone to watch them so I could take a nap, I would be all over it in a heartbeat.

Good luck with Nora! BTW, I loved the voices you gave to Madonna!

Sheela said...

I came across this post and couldn't surf away without letting you know how much i enjoyed it, identified with it: my wee one has been a light sleeper too, and even now, at 21-months, we tip-toe and try to shush the kitties when she has finally dozed off!

Anonymous said...

Every year that I have a kindergartener it's has been nasty, because it means the baby falls asleep while I drive the child to noon time school. Then when I get home they've had just enough sleep to not need a nap but I loose out on my precious Quiet Time. THIS YEAR however it's the baby who's going to kindergarten, so all's well that end's well. And trust me, we've ended.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I had to laugh at the painting conversation. It's the worst to have to wake a sleeping baby to run the next one up off to school. I hope it gets better.

Anonymous said...

So very true. If my babe falls asleep in the car during the school run I can't bear to wake her up so I always have a book handy in the car. I've passed many an hour there :)

Ann Kroeker said...

Here in Indiana, when a kid turns 11 he/she can take a Safe Sitter course and is armed with information and CPR training that prepares them for babysitting. Is your eldest getting close to that age and could take a similar course?

Or surely there's a homeschooling family a few streets over with an 11-year-old kid who could run over long enough for you to pick up someone from an event?

I know you weren't looking for input with this post, but I'm an optimist with ideas. I can't help but toss them out there to get someone brainstorming how to get out of a frustrating dilemma.

And I remember all too well the step-by-step, carefully orchestrated naptime procedures; and the agony over having to wake someone for transport.

Kate said...

Agreed, it's hard to wake a sleeping baby.

But by the time they're six, it's pure bliss. "Wake UP, ye wee beast, and take THAT. Teach you to be a drama queen at bedtime, up, UP with you!" Which seems to meet with approximately equal enthusiasm to, "Rise and shine, little buttercup!" So I use both.

Anonymous said...

This is too funny!
Last night I read this post (But it was right at bedtime for the kids so I didn't have time to comment...) and I thought, "Oh, yes. I remember how precious nap time for baby is," and I felt your pain.
Then this morning I thought about your post again as my kids were running around yelling and laughing, while I was STILL IN BED!!!
Oh, how the scales have tipped! Where once I was concerned about keeping things quiet for them to stay asleep, now I wish they would stay quiet so I can sleep. Ugh!

The Lazy Organizer said...

Oh you poor thing. You need a new 12 step program! Your's is flawed at #1.

I can't wait till I have my own babysitter. That's why we homeschool isn't it? I need to have a couple more babies just so I can take full advantage of it.

owlhaven said...

The easiest way to get away when a child is lying on your clothing is just to slip gracefully out of the clothing. Nudity is better than an awake baby.

Mary, mom to many