Recently, I met up with an old friend from Australia. She has a son who is a year older than Emma. We were catching up on life as a parent, talking about everything from the way we feed our child to how we put them to sleep. One of the many lessons I’ve learnt being a first-time mom is holding back on comparison. It is only natural we become curious of how others parent their child at home. There are some things we can learn from them. But there are also stories which make us doubt ourselves even more.
Everyone judges. There will be those who are skeptical of your choices. The most important thing I remind myself each time: They don’t know your child.
They don’t know what you go through each day. Not just with your child, but your lifestyle itself. Every family is different. I’m a stay-at-home-mother, whilst my friend isn’t. She and her husband works. They send their kid to nursery, pick him up after work, rush home to cook dinner and tuck him into bed by 8.30 pm. The kid still manages a 1.5 hour nap in the day. I was very amazed. My child views nap time as living hell. She cannot understand why we need to lie down and rest even when she is tired. After a 1-hour nap late in the afternoon, she cannot go to bed early at night. Emma’s routine and schedules have changed many times since she was a newborn. Although, I think I’ve grown more accepting of the changes. Previously, I had a hard time dealing with the change when she was ready for the next grown-up phase, because I enjoyed my alone time at night after she sleeps. Right now, she is up and with me almost all the time until she goes to bed at 10 pm. I don’t get much alone time anymore because I go to sleep with her too.
Now that she has weaned off milk, she looks to me for comfort to put her to sleep. She wants me on her bed beside her until she dozes off. She throws a fit if she wakes up and finds I’m not on her bed … even though I’m still right beside her on my own bed. We push our beds together, you see. It’s frustrating at times, especially when she takes like an hour to fall asleep. But the fact is, we don’t have another room to train her to sleep by herself. I’m not ready for it either, I know it’s going to be filled with wails and cries and I just don’t have that energy to deal with it now that I’m pregnant. My friend on the other hand trained her son to sleep by himself when he was 6 months old. He has been sleeping by himself ever since.
For me, I used to think that would be a better sleep habit. But with every experience of laying down beside my daughter, talking to her before she sleeps, watching her doze off, touching her face, patting her back .. just feeling her presence beside me … I’ve come to realize it’s such a special bonding time for us. They’re only going to be this little for awhile. I want to let them be this way as long as they need to be. I’m sure when the time comes, she will be ready to move into her own room independently.
With a second baby on the way, we were initially worried about sleeping together. All of us. What if the baby wakes Emma up all night? What if it affects her sleep? I talked to my mom about it, and she assured me that Emma will get used to it. That’s how me and my sister were raised as children. My most vivid memories of all of us in the room, especially when we travel, are the bedtimes where we chatter in the dark until we fall asleep. It may not seem eventful, but to me as a child, I really cherished those moments with my parents.
Hubby is also skeptical of how the sleeping arrangement is going to work out with all of us in one room. Yes, it won’t be easy initially. But I believe we will all grow to love each other’s presence, sleeping comfortably beside one another. It didn’t make sense for me to sleep separately with the baby in another room. I want the baby to be close to his/her sibling too. And I’m sure Emma would grow to be jealous and question why baby gets more attention than her. So we will cry together and we will laugh together, no matter how tough it gets. That’s what family is all about, isn’t it?
I’m looking forward to my next checkup with the doctor. Hopefully we can confirm the gender!