Wednesday, August 17, 2005

accidental tourists

There's no way to say this without sounding either ungrateful or evil, so I'm just going to come out and say it: being home with a newborn all day is kind of boring.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not enjoying it. Cal is a great baby and we've been having good times, eating and cooing and pooping and making funny faces. It's just that he doesn't do much else. Because of him being a baby and all. But see, I'm an adult. And while looking up at the shadows on the ceiling or turning his head towards a noise pretty much requires the sum of his concentration...for me, not so much.

Sometimes, I get kind of bored.

It's not that I want to cut my maternity leave short and return to work early or anything, even though work is the one thing that's almost certain to leave my brain extremely worked out and tired by the end of the day. Nor is the solution to have our nanny come for longer hours during the day to "relieve" me--I like taking care of the baby, and I feel like I have the rest of my life to fob him off on various substitute caretakers for the day. This is my turn to spend time with him, and I want to be here for it, goddammit. I wouldn't want to do it every single day forever and ever, but it's nice being able to be home, me and The Boy, just the two of us (we can make it if we try). There's no real solution, and I hesitate to say that there's even a problem. It's just a plain fact that I'm putting out there: newborns can be kind of dull.

Dull or not, it's amazing how attached you get to them all the same. If you had asked me prior to having Cal what someone who practiced "Attachment Parenting" was like, I probably would have conjured up some hippy-dippy type who carried her baby around with her in a hemp sling woven by South American artisans and who made her own fresh organic baby food not with a grinder (evil technology, that plastic), but with a mortar and pestle. I didn't even know what "Attachment Parenting" was, really, except that it was somehow granola, perhaps involving hackey sack. I knew nothing about the different schools of parenting and all these different philosophies and such about discipline and sleep and whatnot, except that, if at all possible, one should avoid beating their kids, and not address them as "Hey, stupid." At least not to their face.

What I now realize, looking back on the past four weeks, is that we have become accidental Attachment Parents ourselves. Most of the strategies promoted by these proponents of Attachment Parenting are sort of obvious or intuitive, like "talk to the baby, respond to the baby, figure out what he needs when he cries." Um, duh. But there are some things that we're doing that I wouldn't have necessarily predicted prior to Cal being born.

For example, Cal sleeps with us in our bed at night. We had originally positioned a Pack 'n' Play in our room next to the bed, thinking it he could sleep there for the immediate newborn period before later being transitioned to the crib. But we noticed that in the Pack 'n' Play, he was waking up and fussing every two hours, whereas when we brought him to bed with us, he seemed calmer and was able to sleep for four to five hours at a stretch. We like sleep too, so we kept doing it, after making some provisions and rearrangements such that our bed would not become an infant smother-nest death trap. Now I realize that he's been quite happily sleeping with us for the past three and a half weeks, and I'm thinking that it might not be bad to keep him there with us at least for the immediate future. The last thing I want to do after being away from him at work all day is play with him for 30 minutes, and then send him off to spend another 7 hours away from us in another room on the other side of the apartment. We like having him close to us, and it makes all of our nights a little snugglier and calmer.

And then there are some mornings I wake up with all of us together in the bed and think, oh my god, we're hippies. Time to erect our yurt, starshine.

Oh well, best not to think too much about it. We're just flying by the seat of our pants here, doing what feels intuitive and what works for us and not putting too many labels on this and that. Either way, it seems to be working, everyone's happy, and no one has been reported to Child Protective Services or decided to get dredlocks. Anyway being "attached" to your kid doesn't sound too too terrible, unless it gets to the point that I'm following him to college and renting out an apartment just across the street from campus.

I'll tell you one thing, though--today, our nanny took Cal out briefly for a stroll in the park while I took the dog out to run some errands. Coop and I got home before they did, and I felt decidedly weird being home while the baby wasn't. As per Dr. Sears, I felt unsettled and "incomplete." And when they finally got home maybe 20 minutes later, I heaved a huge sigh of relief and ran over to give The Boy one million (1,000,000) smooches, because I had missed him in the time that he had been away.

Don't worry, I'm sure I'll have less trouble letting go by the time Cal's ready to get married.

Currently reading: "The Pillars of the Earth." This book is actually kind of educational, even though usually I don't like reading books about Medieval Times, unless you're talking about the restaurant. And even then...

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