Monday, 22 October 2012

In praise of good daddies

Since this is a “mommy blog” and I happen to have a husband who likes to keep our personal lives private (oops, sorry for violating that one), I usually reserve this space for chronicling my own journey through motherhood. But there is nothing that I go through as a mother that I go through alone. I am fortunate to be supported by my amazing husband who is truly an equal partner in parenting. So I feel like every now and then, he needs a public shout-out to thank and recognize him for being a great husband and father.

I’ve come to realize that every now and then, something happens that changes the way you do things as a parent. Whether it is intentional or not, from one day to the next, things are just different. For example, your child discovers something new and becomes hooked on that so you start using it as a bargaining tool (ahem, Elmo). Or one day they decide that brushing their teeth is no longer something they want to do. Or maybe they want to brush their teeth all the time. Or maybe it’s the point where you have to start smothering all their food in cheese. Regardless, there are these bizarre pivotal parenting moments, sometimes big, sometimes small. But usually they become a game changer in your daily routine.

Last week, I went away on my first overnight business trip since returning to work from maternity leave. It was the first time my husband was responsible and alone in caring for our son for more than 8 hours. He had to do the daycare pickup and drop-off, bath, dinner, bedtime, breakfast, etc… by himself. Of course I had full confidence in his abilities and no issues leaving him alone. As expected, everything went very well and they both had a great two days together.

What I didn’t expect was that when I returned from this trip, I would no longer be capable of putting my son to bed.

As my loyal readers know, bedtime has never been easy with my son. We’ve always followed the whole bath-books-lullabies routine, but I’ve always had to rock him to sleep, usually to the point of being comatose, before I could put him down in his crib. Anything else usually resulted in whining and tears while he reached out to me with puppy dog eyes. Lately, my husband has been challenging the routine because my son is simply getting too big to be rocked to sleep, and it’s time for him to learn to fall asleep on his own. I know plenty of people are probably rolling their eyes, thinking that it should have been that way from the start, but trust me when I tell you I’ve tried it all and had resigned myself to the fact that I would be rocking him to sleep forever.

Suddenly, however, Daddy seems to have the magic touch. He simply reads my son his stories, turns out the lights, puts him down in the crib and walks away. And there is never a peep of protest from my son, who promptly conks out in his bed.

When I learned this was finally working, I was so excited. Surely if my husband could do this, so could I!


I tried. I really did. But when I came back from that business trip, I could not for the life of me, successfully put my kid to bed. Even when I resorted back to trying to rock him to sleep, it didn’t work. As tired as he was, he would just fight sleep, bounce back up and try to manipulate me into keeping him awake. One night, after an hour of attempting to get him to sleep, I left him in tears in his crib, fighting my own tears of frustration. My husband heard the tears and went to see my son. Within less than a minute, he re-emerged from the bedroom where my son was now quietly putting himself to sleep. WTF!?

At that moment, we agreed that for now, bedtime would no longer be a shared responsibility. This is now my husband’s territory. But I live in fear and frustration of the next time that he won’t be home and I’ll have to do this myself. How long will it take and at what cost? Oh well, time will tell. Anyway, in the meantime, I will simply try to enjoy having this responsibility removed from my plate and let my husband enjoy his newfound power.

Even before becoming the bedtime baby whisperer, my husband has always been a great dad. I have to give credit where credit is due. He loves spending time with our son and they have a blast playing together, something I think will only get better as he gets older and they can do even more together. He’s the one who managed to get our son to enjoy bath time. He always works hard to make sure we’re eating delicious food that even a toddler will love. And as a husband, he is supportive of me as a mother and tries to always give me the time that I need for myself.

In other words, he’s a rock. And a star. A rock star dad. So for once, I’m taking a time out to give a shout out to a man who is both a wonderful husband and father. Thank you. Love you.

(He better read this.)

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Mommy Effect

As my son gets older, he is starting to be much more independent and self-sufficient. Being in daycare has had some incredibly positive effects on his behaviour. His interactions with other children are better; he behaves himself pretty well at home or in others’ homes, and napping has improved exponentially. I mean, he literally puts himself to bed now at naptime and will sleep anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. That is a far cry from the old 30 minute naps of pre-daycare days.

Well, maybe that’s the case when he’s at daycare or being babysat by others, or even when he’s alone with his father. But when it comes to Mommy, either I don’t know what I’m doing, or the general rules don’t apply. Because with me, he wants to be rocked to sleep, clinging to me as though his life depended on it. And God help me if I try to put him in his crib before he is ready (i.e. completely passed out).

As my loyal readers know, I’ve struggled with sleep training for the past 20 months. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem is not my son. I am the problem. I am his mother and he wants to be with me. Period. Remove me from the equation and he can easily fall asleep on his own, take nice long naps and yes, sleep through the night past 5 am.

This seems to me to be just another case of not being able to win when you’re a mom. Your kids may love you but that’s not a reason for them to behave themselves like the little angels they are with other people. In fact, it seems like the very reason not to.

Not one person who has watched my son when I’m not there has ever told me a negative thing about him. And I don’t think it’s because they’re trying to be nice. He’s truly a good kid who behaves well with other people. Yes, they have commented that he is energetic and enthusiastic and very, very strong and sometimes those factors combined can be a recipe for mild chaos. But it’s never cause for more than a chuckle. And to go back to my sleep point, it’s simply not an issue for anyone but me. Well I try not to make it an issue anymore for myself but it never ceases to amaze me when he acts completely differently with others than with me. But I guess when you’re a mom, all bets are off.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just keep enjoying the hugs and kisses that come more easily to me than to others. Because that’s one thing I get to enjoy way more than anyone else! I guess it’s just the Mommy Effect.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


My son has officially been in daycare for a month now. Daycare has brought many wonderful things into our lives – new friends, a great setting for fun and education, an explosion of new vocabulary words and a newfound sense of independence for my son. It has also brought the inevitable plethora of germs and viruses to our home.

I debated whether I should even bother writing about this subject, because it’s so over-discussed. Everyone knows that once your child starts spending long hours in close proximity with many other children, they’ll be sharing more than crayons and toys. I have witnessed many colleagues over the years go through the first six months to a year of non-stop illnesses. I fully knew what to expect. Do we really need to talk about this more? Then I figured, why not – it’s always good for an interesting debate and most people can relate.

Last week, I made a Facebook comment about how the daycare virus spree has begun in earnest and one of my friends and readers replied wondering why parents send their kids in to daycare sick. While I agree that it’s not exactly a best practice, deep down I kind of feel like this phase is a rite of passage for my child’s immune system. Bring it on, I say. Let him get sick! The more germs he is exposed to now, the stronger his immune system will be later.

Obviously I’m not advocating for proactively bringing my child in sick when he should be staying home to rest, but the reality is that he will unavoidably pick up whatever is going around. Not to mention, the average virus lasts 7 – 10 days. Neither my husband nor I can afford to miss that many days away from work at a time, especially if he’s going to be going through the illness cycle repeatedly.

There are definitely instances where I don’t think he should go in, and I have already kept him home at least twice. He had an eye infection, for example. We kept him home but when it looked better the next day, he went back. Unfortunately, it worsened before it improved, and I had to go pick him up and do what I call the “daycare walk of shame.” You know, when they call you to pick up your sick child and you feel like the worst parent in the world for sending him in when you should have realized he wasn’t well enough to be there in the first place. Was it my proudest moment? No, I will admit it wasn’t.

Then there are the odd comments like “He was coughing a lot today….” As a parent, do I take that as a hint that he should be kept home, or do I say with a nervous laugh (as I did) “it’s just the tail end of his cold from last week…” then run along with my proverbial tail between my legs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to parade my kid around town as a walking germ haven in order to bolster his immune system. Believe me, we are fervent hand washers in my house. The second I bring him home at the end of the day, I strip him down and bathe him. He doesn’t wear the same clothes twice without washing them in between. He’s fully vaccinated. I’m doing my best here.

But let’s be realistic, it’s all part of life for young children to share germs the way they share cookies. Yes, I will do my best to exercise good parental judgement so as not to spread illnesses. But if the next six months to a year are not our healthiest as a family, I just have to suck it up and pop some extra Vitamin C. And pray to the daycare gods that there’s no outbreak of gastroenteritis this year!