Structure

So.

Jack’s been sleeping more at night, these days. Consistently six hours, usually more. A couple of eight-hour stretches, even. It’s been lovely. But he is not a day-time sleeper at all. He’ll do cat naps: an hour here, an hour there – or more like 15 minutes here, 45 there. When we took him for his four-month checkup yesterday, Dr. Archer said we could do something about that.

He said that at four months and/or 13 pounds, babies can go 10 to 12 hours without food. And Jack’s now almost 15 pounds, so we’re good. He encouraged us to start getting him on a sleep schedule for nights and day-time naps. We’ve been waiting until we move to even try, since we know the move will mess up everyone’s schedule, anyway. But now that we’ve got an application on a house-house, a real house, not a townhouse, with, you know, a yard and stuff, we’re pretty excited to get this schedule thing started. Especially Brian, who usually gets the evening baby shift and is almost always up with him until at least midnight.

Brian’s been reading Dr. Ferber’s book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, and he is ready to get it in place. But I have to say, honestly, that this stage is going to be very hard for me. I actually have had a lot less trouble with the loosey-goosey hours of early babyhood than Brian has. But I also have a lot *more* trouble with, well, consistency. It’s been an issue for me all along. It was one of my coworkers’ and bosses’ biggest complaints about me, when I lived in a cubicle farm all day. I always did my work on time, always did it reasonably well, but they never knew what time I’d get in every morning. (In my own defense, I did live in the DC area, where traffic could make a big difference.)

But babies need structure. Children, in general, need structure. And it’s my job, now, to provide that. Hm.

Frankly, I could use a bit of structure, myself. Every book on writing or making art or being creative that I’ve read says that if you sit down at the same time every day, your brain starts working when you need it to. Ah. Maybe that’s why it took me over two years to finish a first draft of a novel. Maybe that’s why I have about a dozen unfinished art projects cluttering up my studio.

I do a weekly practice called Impersonal Movement, with a group from my healing class. We talk every Tuesday afternoon by phone and do our practice. I guess you could call it meditation, since it involves focusing your attention, but it’s a moving meditation, one that involves your whole body. I’ve found that when I participate fully in this practice, I can meet the space around me and feel it meet me back. I feel like I’m making contact with something that is not me, that is bigger, that holds me.

I did not get a lot of that as a kid. My parents loved me very much, but feeling “met” and “held” was a rare occurrence for me. I guess my folks had their own issues with consistency. I know that my issues come from being scared that if I show up and try to make contact, no one will be there to meet me.

It’s occurring to me now, as I start to think about new sleep and work schedules once we move, that maybe I can give Jack something my parents couldn’t always give me. It occurs to me that providing structure and consistency for him is one way to help him feel met and held. He doesn’t have to *sleep* from 10 to 11:30 every morning, from 3 to 5 every afternoon. But it’s my job to give him that opportunity, to give him that routine, so he knows what to expect from one day to the next. If he wants to use that time to look at his feet or pick his nose or play with a toy, that’s OK. But it’s down time. And he and Mommy are both needing some down time.

The Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Most of all, I want Jack to know that when he reaches out to make contact, I will do my best to meet him there.

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3 responses

  1. Dude. Amen to a routine. I’m not a scheduler. We don’t do feedings at certain times or whatever. But we have a routine. It’s our world. It’s a structured world that took time to get used to, but seriously I need a nap in the middle of the day so each day I sit in front of my Baby Whisper book and thank God for that woman who wrote it . She didn’t make me let my baby cry it out and she didn’t ask anything unreasonable of us as parents. Although…I will say Talin got REALLY tired of hearing me say, “But the book says….” Good luck with the routine and the new house. HOA’s SUCK.

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