Friday, April 11, 2008

Big Girls Don't Cry

Nothing in this world has made less judgmental of a person than becoming a parent.

I used to be the one rolling my eyes at Target when the toddler in the next aisle over tantrums on relentlessly while the parents stand by pleading helplessly.

I could not for the life of me understand the concept or appeal of portable DVD players for family outings.

And never, under ANY circumstance would any child of mine be caught dead slurping away on some obnoxious piece of plastic with a tit on the end of it... ESPECIALLY past the age of infant-carrier.

But alas... the pacifyer conviction was the first to go.

When Dawson was born, Ty was still in college. He was at the hospital the first night, the entire next day when Dawson was finally born, and by that evening I was feeling better and knew he was on homework overload. I insisted he head home for a good nights rest in his own bed and a few hours of peace and quiet for homework. Secretly I was greedily hoarding some potential alone time with my new little bundle.

Karma is a bi-atch.

The second he heard the elevator doors close behind his father, Dawson began to wail. And he didnt stop all.night.long.

I held fast to my conviction for as long as I could (what? 6 hours IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AFTER GIVING BIRTH HOURS BEFORE is an eternity!!)... but sometime around the wee hours of morning when the sun began to peek thru the dingy burlap hospital curtains (or so claimed my delusional bloodshot eyes) I desperately reach for my one and only last hope at the chance for some shut eye.

Meet the Soothie:
I owe my first childbirth recovery AND being spared from the clutches of what could have been an even MORE agonizing trip to the pit of postpartum hormone hell to this heavenly being.

My Mother-In-Law, Ann, always gently but firmly opposed my pacifier disdain. She debated that you can take a paci away, but a thumb is forever (or so you would hope). She pointed out that when a child is sick, or sad, or overtired, it could be a 'natural' comfort (as opposed to Benadryl, or a good pillow smothering). We would go around and around like that... in good nature... and at my baby shower she joke gifted me a glass jar with a lid on it containing a pacifier that read in Sharpie marker on top "in case of emergency, break glass."

I dont know to this day whether I love her or detest her for her motherly insights.

As it turned out, Dawson only used the paci for a couple months before he refused it. By then, I had gotten used to the ways of sleep deprivation that all Moms are naturally accustomed to.

When Anabelle arrived on scene, I thought she wouldn't be interested at all and actually she slept thru the night IN THE HOSPITAL, and ADORES her an opportunity for some quality shut eye to this very day. I don't know how the paci cunningly nudged its ugly little teet into our daily routine (um... probably the complete madness of having children 7 minutes apart??!!?!), but sure enough before we knew it we had a sucker (haha, get it!?! Buh-dum, CHA!).

So fast forward to now... and here is this beautiful Anabelle Lee, 26 mos old. She can walk. She hasn't been remotely interested in a bottle for well over a year. We have lots and lots of deep and meaningful conversations about chocolate and butterflies and being kind and sharing and caring and wildflowers. Which brings me to a strangely heartbreaking realization...

Its time for our dearly beloved and faithful companion, the 'paci,' as we've come to call it... to make like a baby and head out. For good.

I've know for awhile now that the time was upon us. Maybe its partly lazy parenting... not wanting to sacrifice the luxury of a hassle-free full night's sleep at the meager expense of cracking one eye open and plugging our child back into her life support. But really I know in my heart its not about the sleep. She is a great sleeper, remember?

In all honesty, I think... gulp... I think I don't want her to not be a baby anymore.

The truth is, her paci is a part of her infancy trademarked in my fondest memories for always. I cant imagine my life now without the countless mornings where I am just stepping out of my dreams and Im lucky enough to wake to the sweet smell of strawberry and the unmistakable sound of slurp.slurp.slurp coming from the bundle of pink bliss who has imposed herself between us sometime during the night.

I've been putting it off for a long time now. I even have good mom/ bad mom dialogs with my alter egos where bad mom is insisting to good mom that no kid ever went to grade school with a paci in their mouth more than once.... after just one day of relentless jeering from their peers. This way, she could hate THEM, and not ME for depriving her of her first love.

I think all this time I've hoped in my heart that I would see when the opportunity was presenting itself and run with it.

And sure enough, opportunity knocked last night as I came home late and sat down to chat on the living room sofa with my Mom who was kind enough to babysit. Anabelle must have not been fully asleep yet and heard my voice, because soon she was peering around the hall corner with a sneaky gleam in her eye and (of course) that darn paci hanging out of her mouth.

I knew I should shoo her back to bed, but instead I grabbed the blanket draped over the couch behind me and motioned her to come snuggle and listen in on the grown up talk (as long as she was quiet).

About 15 minutes went by, and clearly the conversation was fueling a second win in her as she was now sitting up between us chiming in now and then... oh, wait. TRYING to chime in. She couldn't get out what she wanted to say with the beast in her way. She was clearly annoyed.

"Anabelle!" I exclaimed. "WHAT is a BIG GIRL like YOU doing up late with the grown up ladies trying to have girl talk with a paci in her mouth?! GO THROW IT IN THE TRASH, and then come back and talk to us. You are DONE with that thing."

Without missing a beat, she wiggled free, hopped off the couch, and muttered "OK, Mommy," over her shoulder as she disappeared into the kitchen. She was back in a flash and hopped right back to her rightful post on my lap, eager to continue the party that had been so rudely interrupted.

And that was it.

She didnt argue when I put her to bed a few minutes later without it.

She didnt ask for it when she woke up and had her morning snuggle time with blankie on the couch.

It didnt appear to even cross her mind at nap time today.

And tonight, she is dreaming sweetly in its absence as I wistfully blog away in this tribute to the closed chapter of her infancy.

Well. ALMOST closed chapter.

I dont suppose potty training will be as easy as that??


.heidi.noelle. said...

I don't have a lot of vivid memories from when I was child, but this memory as stuck. I remember when my parents stopped the bottle. I had my last one on a car ride to LA where my grandparents lived. I didn't think about having another one until we came home...and I remember asking for one and they said no. I looked the whole house through (well the parts that a 2 year old could get to) No such luck. I remember being heart broken, but I think within a few hours it was over and done :) I loved the part in the story how matter of fact she was...just wanted to be with and like the big girls and didn't think twice about it!

Steph said...

okay, was that pic at the top you? you can tell me:)