Tuesday, December 22, 2015

More on Patience

Last time I told you I'm working on patience.  That's true, but what does that mean?  I'm sure I don't fully understand everything going on in my head either, but I do know one thing that's helped - the timer on my iPhone.

It all came together like this - when The Baby was just a few weeks old, she liked to be walked to sleep, so I'd pace in our living room.  I started counting steps as a way of measuring how much work she was taking to go down, and then I started counting to keep myself from getting too eager, which could result in me setting her down before she was ready, which would mean her waking and us starting all over.  300 steps = roughly 300 seconds = about 5 minutes.  If she hadn't stirred in 300 steps, I'd try setting her down.

Fast forward a couple months.  The Baby no longer needs to be walked to sleep, but I still want to make sure I'm patient and don't assume too quickly that she's really down for the count, plus if she's not happy, time has a way of dilating.  What feels like 15 minutes is actually 5, and what feels like 30 is actually 10.  Timing keeps me honest and forces me to be patient.

This is something that works for me.  No guarantee it'll work for you, even if you try it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thing I Didn't Know #1: Patience

I think that maybe, if you were to try to distill it down as far as possible, parenting is really just patience and perseverance.  I thought a bit about if it was really just patience, since perseverance is dependent on patience, but let's just agree that patience is pretty damned important.

I didn't really know what it meant to be patient, nor did I understand that, like all functions of biology, it falls on a curve.  Let's say you're graphing patience, with the absolute amount of patience along the X-axis, and the percentage of the population who possess that amount of patience on the Y-axis.  On the extreme left tail of the graph, you've got the true assholes in life, who believe the world revolves around them, and as such, are always in a hurry lest the world stop turning.  They order their coffee while talking on the phone.  They probably drive a BMW.  On the right tail, you've got Marine snipers, low-functioning pot heads, and surfers.  The sniper is capable of moving so slowly it takes hours to crawl 10 yards.  The surfer is just hanging out, waiting for the next set, literally and metaphorically.  The pot head...  Is just waiting.

I've always been a laid back guy.  I thought patience was being cool when I wanted to pass somebody, but there's somebody a little slower than me in the passing lane.  I don't sweat it!  I just knock off the cruise control, and hang back while they make their move.  I got all the time in the world!  I'm so patient!

That is not patience.  Well it is, but not to the degree required to be a parent.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  We got a good baby.  She's always eaten well, and she's always slept well for her age.  She is only fussy if we let her get too tired, and she is almost never inconsolable.  I tell you this because if you're the parent of a colicky baby, you're going to want to punch me in the throat for talking about patience, because parents of good babies don't have patience like parents of colicky babies.  But I'm not worried about this because if you have a colicky baby, you're not reading this!  You're holding a screaming baby, bouncing her and shushing her and wondering how the hell lungs the size of plums can hold so much goddamn air!

So patience.  I'm working on patience.  I'm really trying to appreciate how short an hour is, how quickly it can pass, even if it's in the company of an unhappy baby.  Thing is, your baby will teach you patience.  Or maybe she won't!  What the hell do I know?  I keep trying to remind myself that I'm not even an expert in my own baby, let alone you and yours.  What I do know is, with regard to patience, I am not as patient as I need to be, and I'm working on it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Overwhelmingly Overwhelming

Jesus, where to begin?  I guess you begin at the beginning, huh?  Our daughter, The Baby, was born on September 24th of this year, which makes her just more than 12 weeks but just shy of 3 months old.  Turns out distinctions like that matter now.

In that amount of time, I've experienced every emotion that every other parent has written about: joy, sorrow, frustration, elation, etc.  Since I hate being trite, I'll not summarize how it's felt from birth until now; if you can feel it, chances are good my wife and I have felt it.  Enough said.

What's this about?  I'm not a parenting expert.  The Baby is our first.  We read a few books before she was born (The Wife read more than I), but that was about it.  If you need expertise, I have to send you elsewhere.  If I find something that works (or doesn't) for us, you can bet I'll talk about it, but when n = 1, you can't really call it research.  Did I mention I'm going to be the stay-at-home parent?  I see I didn't.  Not sure how I overlooked that.  Anyway, I will have the luxury of staying home with The Baby, and I'm only partially being sarcastic.  It is a dream come true, and those who've told me it'll be the hardest job I've ever done have already been proven right.  But I'm a guy.  This is all gonna have the slant of being written by a white, hetero, over-educated, underachieving, upper-middle class male...  Just something for you to be aware of at this point.  If you call me Mr. Mom, I'll get as offended as I'm allowed to be, given I've won the cosmic jackpot as far as life on Earth is concerned.

So here's what it's about.  It's about figuring this out as I go along, which I think is really the only way to do it with your first kid.  Step one is to accept that you have no control.  Step two is to accept that the little shit will rarely respond to the same stimulus in the same way two times in a row.  Step three is to do what you need to do to stay sane given one and two above.  Part of step three (for me) is talking it out.  The Wife and I didn't get The Baby without a few bumps along the way (maybe more on that later, if she's cool with me talking about it).  One of the things that helped the most during that process was talking with friends and hearing that others had gone through similar situations.  It made us feel less alone.  It normalized our feelings.  It was therapeutic.

This blog is part of my therapy.  It's cathartic.  I genuinely hope you you're interested and entertained.  I hope I occasionally figure something out and can share some wisdom, but don't hold your breath.  Mostly, I hope you can relate.

Something I've Figured Out: It's all about the sleep.  I thought the biggest stressors would be eating and soothing.  I also thought when a baby was tired, you put it down, and it slept.  Was I a stupid little shit or what?  It's all about the sleep, and getting a baby to sleep is the hardest thing I've ever done.