Friday, January 04, 2008

Lily is TWO!

Lily is two today (I started writing this post on the 4th), and it seems hard to believe sometimes. She's asleep right now in my arms. She slept for half of her nap by herself, and when she woke up, I held her and she fell asleep again (I watched a movie and finished tying a little quilt for her b-day.)

I've been reflecting a lot lately about how she's grown and what she's like. I understand her so much better now than I could when she was under a year. I finished reading a book by Dr. Sears called "Attachment Parenting," which described what I was doing with her all along. I just didn't know it had a name (see to learn what AP means.) From the beginning, she slept next to me in the night (though I didn't know until now all the medical benefits for newborns that that provides). I nursed her when she asked (she never needed to cry hard or--even at all--most of the time because I responded to her pre-cry signals). I held her as much as I could and talked to her all the time. Her play was quite advanced for her age, and when she wanted to venture out on her own, I'd help her learn to be safely independent (as she ran through our yard at 9 months old).

Some people might think that I held her too much or spoiled her (like you could spoil a newborn who is only asking for their needs to be met,) and for a while, I wondered if she would have slept through the night better if I'd held her less, or maybe be less clingy if I let her get used to being without me more. Now looking back at the last two years, I can see more clearly.

Before she was 6 months old, I could put her in her saucer chair and mow the lawn for an hour before she'd indicate that she was hungry or wanted me. (We have a push lawn-mower. I'd put her outside in the chair, and we'd "chat" while I mowed). After 6 months, she wouldn't let me even go into the kitchen (even though she could see me) without freaking out that I was leaving her.

Okay, so what happened in that sixth month? One day, I went scrapbooking with some friends at Picture Pages (now closed *sigh*), and Youssef came to watch Lily. He put her in the stroller and took her on a walk. We assumed that she'd fall asleep in the stroller as she'd done in the past. Well, for whatever reason, she started to cry. Perhaps she just wanted to be held or maybe she was hungry, I wasn't there so I didn't know what her cry was saying. Youssef assumed that she'd calm down, but she didn't. Her cry became inconsolable because it wasn't listened to right away (Dr. Sears talks about the "crying curve"). Apparently, she'd been crying for an hour in the stroller before Youssef got back, and by the time he'd gotten back, she'd given up crying.
Some people might say that the baby needed to "cry it out," and that she'd get used to going to sleep without help. However, being her mother and caring for her 24-hours everyday for 2 years, I know that she was simply afraid. Her cry was her language, and no one responded. She was alone and didn't know if I'd ever be back or if she'd always be alone. To some children, they might bounce back from an experience like this, but Lily tends to be a more fearful child than some. She's always needed reassurance in new situations, even when she was a few months old. Some might think she's shy, and perhaps she is--I can understand that very well because I'm the same way. I was terribly fearful as a child (and shy much of the time though not always... I think I acted shy more out of fear than actual shyness... or is it the same?) That all seems silly looking back now because my mom stayed at home, and I had no real reason to be afraid. I can remember being 12 and knowing that there wasn't anything in the dark, but I still felt terrified (though I don't think anyone knew of my fear). By then, I'd learned to pray and knew God would protect me from anything. I held onto that and all the little things my Mom would say when I'd had a bad dream "Think about nice things. Like rainbows and kitties..." etc. I say that to Lily just like my Mom talked to me, and it really does seem to calm her in the night when she wakes up from a bad dream.

So, back to the reflection.
Each time I'd push Lily to do something (usually because of random bad advice) that she's not ready to do (like sleeping in her own room instead of with me or in her little bed by ours where she has been), it makes everything harder. It takes lots and lots of patience to allow her the time she needs to make the change without being scared. If I'm not patient, my life becomes so much harder. I'd always wonder if the advicse was really that great if it made everything so much harder. (But she just needs to get used to it, they'd say. But what if I liked how things were, says I.)
However, she is getting old enough now to understand when I tell her I'm going somewhere or need to leave her in her bed to put my PJs on or something and doesn't cry at my leaving anymore. I used to get so frustrated. After all, I'm coming back! I'm right there! What's the big deal? Even so, she didn't understand. To her, I might not ever come back. How could she know and understand concepts like that before?
All of this is mostly a reflection on my part to remember to go with my instincts with my own babies and not listen to people who give me advice when they've never had a child just like mine.
Maybe reading this will help someone to be confident in her mothering and learn to listen to your child's "cry" (even if it's silent). If I remember what I've learned in these past 2 years about listening and communicating, maybe Lily will still feel comfortable coming to me with what is troubling her even when she is 22. I hope that I will listen and respond to her fears and troubles appropriately and she'll know that I'll always be there for her.
And, by God's grace, when Renna is born, I'll learn to understand her baby language and signals too. I wonder what she'll be like? Maybe she'll be more outgoing like Youssef? Or most likely, she'll be her own person just like Lily is uniquely herself.
I'm so much happier when my goal is to understand and communicate well with my child instead of trying to get her to simply obey me or fit into my schedule. (There has to be a little of that, but without trust and understanding, I think it can become an obedience that isn't from the heart, which, isn't true obedience is it?)

And it really is such a fun adventure to discover who your children are, isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lynne' you are a very good mommy to Lily.
The blanket you made for her is so her!
Mom M