Baby is sleeping which is how I am able to be here writing at the moment. She's not a great sleeper . . . in fact during the day she doesn't sleep much at all but finally, by the third child this doesn't stress me out.
(Here I am beginning a rant about babies and sleep again, and coming dangerously close to offering more unsolicited advice to any new parent who may be reading . . . because if you are a new parent the thing you need more than anything . . . even more than a mr. milker or fetal kick-Twitter updater . . . is more parenting advice. Especially sleep advice).
Sleep is apparently the most accurate indicator of your child's future performance in life. In fact, in some Christian circles getting a child to sleep through the night is nearly as crucial as total emersion, and the earlier a baby sleeps eight hours the more likely he is to be a missionary to China, or a wealthy tithing church member.
And I have a newborn and I can't help myself, I have to talk about sleep. It's the number one thing that controlling concerned parents want to talk about: how to get baby to sleep through the night so we can get back our uninterrupted t.v. schedule early morning prayer time.
So here is my wealth of insight on the issue:
Sometimes babies sleep. Sometimes they don't sleep.
Sometimes they wake up at really inconvenient times, like mine just did.
What you decide to do about that is up to you.
Insert: it is now three now it's five seven days later . . . after Baby #3 woke up, I got a call from my mom who was watching the older two, but Annie was having some constipation issues and was upset and wanted me to be there. So I went. And since then we have been dealing with this issue on a daily basis . . . it typically involves several hours a day of on and off the potty accompanied by a panicked, hysterical toddler and bribing with chocolate. I am sure there must be a Christian parenting book on getting this particular function into a schedule, too, but I've yet to find it.
The first house we lived in when we got married butted up directly to the house behind us. I pretty much could have popped my head out my kitchen window and into their kitchen window to borrow a cup of sugar. The lady who lived there was a precious little lady who used every square inch of her yard to plant something. (She'd dig up her border of spring bulbs to make room for planting beans, and then re-plant the bulbs in the fall). And she used to bring me little bits of things- a cup of cole slaw or a few beets or piece of pie they couldn't eat and she didn't want to go to waste . .. like I said, Precious.
And she told me one time . . . in the fall as I was hugely pregnant and she had likely brought me a head of cabbage or a dish of leftovers . . . that the greatest thing about becoming a mother is that, for the first time ever you get to do something any way you want . . . your baby is all yours, and you get to decide now how you will do things. Of all of the parenting advice I received, this is the one I remember.
And along with this little dish of advice I would also offer this one:
Kids are inconvenient.
They are babies who cry and don't sleep and you don't know why, and in the moments that you will most desperately beg them to sleep because you simply cannot survive one more night without it, they will cry and cry and not stop crying, and you must get your sorry tired self out of bed and care for them.
Then they are toddlers and at the most inconvenient times they cry and they still don't sleep and still you don't know why . . . maybe because they are teething, or have ear infections or they're just simply miserable but you don't know and so you must pick them up and rock them, and talk to them, and kiss their toes and make them laugh or finally just dump their toys out in the middle of the night and lay on the couch and weep because you're just. so. tired.
And then surely they'll become two year olds who cry because they're afraid, or frustrated, or just because they are two and life isn't easy on two year-olds . . . and they throw fits in front of your grandmother and color on the walls and become constipated on the days when you don't have time to sit on the bathroom floor all day . . . but they are two and that's what two year olds do.
Parenting is clumsy and messy and hard. It requires sacrifice and selflessness and, yes, sleeplessness. This is the advice that expectant parents need to hear . . . Somebody needs to write a parenting book with the title, This Isn't Going to be Easy.
For a hopeful perspective from a mom on the other side of the baby phase, read Charrette's excellent post, Beyond Baby Tenderlove .