Saturday, January 12, 2013

Screw you, William Blake

So we're working on "nap training" this morning, which is horrible procedure far worse than night-sleep training was (at least for our little guy) and which involves just putting the baby in his crib when he's tired and letting him go to sleep. Or, in our case, letting him cry for half an hour (with a couple of quick check-ins), then picking him up to resume (sleepy, cranky) playing.

It's heartbreaking, and Bonaventure's crying, and I feel terrible. So I start reading for next week's Brit Lit, trying to get a little work done and take my mind off of our collective woes. The Norton has added a new poem to the Songs of Innocence section, "On Anothers Sorrow," and as I'm holding back my own tears and B is wailing away, I read:

"Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

"Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear--
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be."

That did it. I cried. We picked B up at 27 minutes instead of the mandated 30. It was just plain rotten all around.

(This afternoon is going better--he fell asleep quickly and has been down for 25 minutes. I guess just wearing him out to the absolute limit is the key? Sigh. This all just makes me feel like a terrible, terrible person.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

You have no idea what this means to me

Bonaventure is currently napping in his crib.

You know, I've done a lot of difficult things. I wrote a dissertation. I got a tenure-track job. I published a book. I biked 330 miles in 4 days and, in the same year, walked 600 miles across a country whose language I don't speak. I've survived passport theft in southern France teaching three 20-student comp sections in a single semester. I can handle shit.

But getting a baby to sleep when and where he's not used to sleeping? That's just about beyond my capabilities.

Bonaventure had developed the sweet (but unsustainable, now that I'm going back to work) habit of napping on my lap, or in bed with me, after a nice long nurse. Breaking that habit is not easy. But today we've made a little bit of progress.

Now, if he'd only take a bottle....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And now for something less fuzzy

OK, I was totally sincere in my last post. But I do actually have some more tangible, ordinary things that I'd like to work on this year. They're not interesting, but I like account-a-blogging, and for some reason I like reading other people's to-do lists and whatnot, so here goes: I'm sharing my boring bourgie goals for 2013. Brace yourselves!

  1. Get Bonaventure sleeping on his own, in his crib, and--eventually--through the night. This needs to start happening immediately. In fact, it has started happening! We initiated Phase One of the Ferber method (please refrain from freaking out over sleep training in the comments, please) tonight. I've been worried and anxious about it for days. Would I be able to withstand the crying? Well, I don't want to jinx it, but so far, so good. He was asleep in 15 minutes. Now to start working on the 4+ night feedings....
    1. Subnote: If you're considering sleep training, do not cruise the interwebs for advice. You'll just find people telling you that letting your baby cry at all is torture and teaches him that he's unlovable. To which I say, if that's true, I've already done it, because the dude cries about half the time that he's in the car, when we really can't stop to pick him up and reassure him. I can't see that there's any difference between that and crying in the crib. And he's a very happy, sweet, secure little guy. So that's all just hooey. (Not saying that sleep training is an unqualified good--just that the critics are in some cases a little low in credibility.)
  2. Revise Stupid Article into something potentially publishable. Step One: Come up with a better nickname for it than "Stupid Article."
  3. Apply for a research course release for next year--which will mean more clearly articulating my research plans.
  4. Write Kalamzoo paper--for I am planning to skip graduation this year and take my family to Kalamazoo! Hooray!
  5. Do some mothertrucking yoga again, good God. I've lost all my pregnancy weight and then some, but I'm not in any kind of shape, and my back is getting wacky from all the baby-tending. I'd also like to swim again sometimes, if the pool's opening hours are at all convenient. 
That's all I can think of. At least two of these things absolutely have to happen, and two are very concrete, so I don't really know that they count as "resolutions." But the secret, buried resolution lurking beneath 2-4 is really to recommit to my scholarship. That's the key thing. Wish me luck!

And happy new year (slightly belatedly) to all!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

De retour

Well! It's the new year, and we're back from Christmas Visits 2012--which I'm calling Bonaventure's Great Train Adventure. In the course of 12 days, we took a total of 7 trains, including 2 overnights (we got sleeper cars, but the very smallest sleeper cars, and it turns out that these are very small indeed. They certainly put the "ette" in "roomette").

 Bonaventure is now a seasoned traveler; he even brings his own reading material. See:

On train no. 5   

Our trip out (to my folks' state) was pretty good, even though we left our house at 8:30 am and arrived at my mom's at about 4:30 the following afternoon--a long trip, but with only one (9-hour) layover and a relatively comfortable sleeper car. The intermediate journey (from my folks' to TM's) was fine, too, although we had to push our departure back 6 hours because of snow. (The good news was that this meant not have to wake Bonaventure up at 5 am.) The 29-hour return journey (from TM's home) was a bit more agonizing: three trains, one of which had a midnight departure time. We got home at about 5:00 pm on New Year's Eve, unpacked a bit, ate, put B to bed, showered, and collapsed.

Oh, and the visits themselves? Yeah, they were good. Bonaventure got loads of toys, but he's not really old enough to appreciate a lot of them, so they'll last us for a while. And it was such fun to share him with our families. One thing that I didn't anticipate enjoying so much about having a baby was how pleasurable it is to entertain other people with him. Okay, most likely I overestimate how entertained these other people really are--I am unabashedly and unashamedly in love with my little pudding--but honestly, we have a surprisingly sociable guy on our hands. He loves smiling at people. Both TM and I have noticed recently how, when we're out in public with him, he'll look at every single person who walks by with this hopeful little smile, and if they smile back at him, he just beams--a full-on Muppet smile, his mouth as wide open as it can get. It astonishes me that anyone can resist him.

(Here he is grinning at my dad, who is, in his opinion, the funniest--or funniest-looking?--person on the planet:)

Today has been one of those relaxed, easy, post-holiday days. Bonaventure napped more than usual; I did a load of laundry, washed out an apron that's been dirty for too long, and baked cookies; TM fixed some good meals, played with B, and worked on his manuscript. I feel so happy to be home. As, it turns out, I usually do. Lately I keep thinking about how lucky I am: I have a snug little house that I love, am married to a wonderful partner whose conversation I adore, get to snuggle the sweetest baby in the world whenever I want, and make enough money to pretty much buy what I want (our incomes actually aren't very good, certainly well below average for our disciplines and status, but our needs are modest and we have no big, looming expenses at the moment); everyone in my family is apparently in quite good health; I have a job that I find sufficiently interesting and meaningful (no job is always interesting and meaningful, right?); and my own habits are largely healthy and orderly.

That last one sounds a little weird, yes, but I'm thinking about new year's resolutions here, and there aren't many habitual actions that I think I need to worry about too much--I mean, I'm sure I could refine things here and there, but I eat well (with enough treats thrown in to keep me happy), floss daily, and certainly do not need to resolve to be more organized or neater or anything like that. In fact, lightening up could be a good idea.

But, seeing as it's new year's day and all, I'm thinking about what I'd like to have more of in my life, and it's this: enjoyment, or presence; actually living through all of the beautiful moments in each day. It's a habit of mind, not a habit of body, that I'd like to change. While I have concrete things that I'd like to accomplish this year (including dramatically revising Stupid Article, applying for a research-related course release, getting Bonaventure to sleep in his damned crib, and maybe trying again to find an agent for my novel), my resolution for the year is to ease up on the need to be productive and accomplish stuff all the time.

Maternity leave has been good practice. Certainly one doesn't need to have a baby to realize this, but one of the things that caring for Bonaventure has taught me is the importance of letting go of the need to Get Things Done every moment of the day. There have been times, especially early in my leave, when I was worn out and frustrated by my inability to Accomplish; but by the end of the semester, I was much more comfortable with the idea of lying in bed for two hours with Bonaventure sleeping against my side, idly reading a few pages of a book now and again, dozing or letting my mind wander the rest of the time, and occasionally bending down to kiss his fuzzy head. Or sometimes when I'm playing with him and I start to get bored, I remember that he won't even be a baby anymore by this time next year, and suddenly my attention is drawn right back into the moment and the pleasure of watching him grow.

That's what I want to keep with me. And not just when it comes to Bonaventure, but in my moments with TM, with friends, even with myself--the other night I wrote in my diary for just a little while longer than usual, letting myself not be in a hurry, but taking the time to describe things at greater length, even moving the pen a little more slowly than usual across the page. It felt good. I spend too much time straining for what's next; I want to bring myself back to what's now.

Oh, and I should work out or whatever more often, too, of course.