Tag Archives: #mommyblog

Downtime: Sleep Hater Baby!

BabyA has never been much of a sleeper. From the moment we set eyes on her, she wanted to set eyes on everything else. Shut-eye was an ordeal for her, and making her shut them was a bigger ordeal for me.

The first year of her life, it took at least an hour to make her sleep (sometimes two). I would rock her, pat her, make white noise (since it mimics the sounds of the womb), make her sleep in various gravity- defying positions on my lap to comfort her colic, sing to her till my throat went hoarse and walk with her till my legs were ready to give way. Finally, she would fall asleep, and I wouldn’t move for 15 minutes (watching the clock tick-tock, praying she doesn’t stir), whether my bladder was ready to burst or my feet were plagued with pins and needles. Then I would gently put her in her cot, repeating God’s name over and over again, and if she didn’t wake up, I would settle by her side. Often, this was the time when I could focus on my own bodily and mental needs, so I would hungrily open a bag of chips, and pop one in my mouth. “Crunch!”, and there, she was awake again!

She has always been a sleep-hater! This child can sit through a car-ride for 3 hours from Pune to Bombay, in a car-seat and not catch a wink. What I wouldn’t do for a little magic potion to make her sleep? My mom would say, “After a maalish (massage), you children (her teen anmol ratan) would sleep so well that I could go watch an afternoon film show and come back to catch you just beginning to awaken”.

I never understood whether it was evolution that was affecting this generation of babies: our own prenatal (and postnatal) environments that were filled with stress due to our high strung mindsets and highly mobile life, or something else. I searched and searched… and later found out that our mothers really did have a magic potion. It was available off-the-counter as “Woodward’s Gripe Water”. Now, I know that we have the option of giving gripe water although it has lost some popularity in the last 30 years, but what we don’t have any longer is the alcoholic variety! I searched high and low for the old style gripe water WITH ALCOHOL but I can’t get it even if I pay a million bucks (I know because I was willing to!) All brands of gripe water now have a huge sign saying “without alcohol”. Why would they do this: a little alcohol never hurt anyone, especially a sleep-hater baby. For all those judging me, I feel like if we turned out right after a peg of gripe water every morning, then it can’t be so bad for our kids!

I have read several articles that tell you how many hours of sleep a child needs. BabyA fell short of that by 2-3 hours every time. This didn’t really work well with me, since the one thing I find hardest to deal with is Sleep Deprivation. I can handle the tantrums and the terrible twos but I need 8 hours of sleep, otherwise I’m like a Neanderthal (club in hand, and all) moving around with a mercurial temper.

Moms who are blessed with kids who love their sleep will never know what I’m talking about and moms who are right now mentally composing their scathing comments about Sleep Training Techniques want to whip me. Let’s just say, sleep training wasn’t for me. I know it would have saved me much misery (especially the months where she would wake up every hour throughout the night, expecting to be comforted by a 20 minute drill each time), but I couldn’t!

So I trundled along, singing lullabies and doing a solid workout while trying to make her sleep. From 2 hours, we have been able to come down to 30-45 minutes, the kindness of which I thank BabyA for every day. But I must say, till date, I never have any clue when she will knock off because there are no classic sleep symptoms: No typical reduction of movement, decrease in conversation, glassy-eyes, yawning… Nothing! In fact, till the second before she falls into deep slumber (if she knows such a condition), she will be either singing on the top of her voice or talking continuously, while twirling, whirling and swirling all over my bed.

But finally, after so many varied physically defying stunts to make her sleepy, she relents… she stops moving and talking. And there she is: asleep. As I place her down and tuck her in, all the frustration melts away. I look at her angelic face, so devoid of any malevolence, and my heart always skips a beat. I can’t believe I created this mysterious tiny miracle!

Pilots, Dinosaur Princesses and other Fairy Tales

I remember, while growing up, the one thing that got me really upset was unfairness! So, every year, when my grandmom would ask my younger brothers to do the Diwali Pooja before me, I got really angry! Shouldn’t it have been by age?

I’ve always been a feminist, even when I didn’t know what it meant. It’s easy to be a feminist wife, or a feminist daughter-in-law when you’re married in a pretty fair family to begin with. The only time I have been struggling with myself is during this experience of being a feminist mom. I’m not a radical as I believe men suffer due to patriarchy too but as a mother, I’m starting to get a glimpse at my own hypocrisies, and they startle me!

I grew up hearing Fairy Tales about Princesses and loving Barbies, but I don’t want my daughter to! I read the stories to my daughter but with disclaimers: letting her know that life isn’t perfect and that fairy tale princesses are dumb! All they do is traipse about, curtsy and debut at balls so they can find their Prince Charming. I do this because I think Fairy Tales have ruined more lives than drugs (Ok- so I’m a tad radical about this!) But children will do what they want to do. Or maybe I have to lead by example more than by preaching.

My daughter isn’t great at sports. Everytime we play ball (with the princess ball she was once gifted, I may add), she throws and then I throw, and then she talks to me about throwing for 5 minutes. In between every ball exchange, she needs a talking break for 5 minutes before we can start again. Is it that she’s sports- challenged like me or that she doesn’t see me doing anything sporty: only telling her to be sporty?

When we see a female pilot, I tell her, “You can be a pilot if you like. If you work hard, you can be anything you want to be”, to which, pat comes the reply, “Really Mamma? Then I want to be a Princess or a Dinosaur”. *Sigh!* I’m tempted to say that I’d rather she were a dinosaur but that would make her extinct, so I’m left exasperated at the choices she has put in front of me. But I guess she looks at her mom, and wants to be like me! She probably views me as being some sort of a Dinosaur Princess who is as old as the hills, but lives a comfy life with a nanny, cook and mommy lunches (at which point she also assumes that taking care of her is a bed of roses that I joyfully lie in every day, and she’s unable to imagine that to be hard work).

For the longest time, I would keep telling my best friend that she should get her son more “feminine” toys but then someone gifted Baby A a dump truck, and my first primal reaction was to dump it on her head? A boy-toy?

And then I wonder why BabyA wants to spend hours setting out picnics for people, or putting fake nail polish in front of her pink dresser? The truth is that she’s like I was at her age. And as she grows up, she will be whoever she is destined to be, and I will have to accept it! All I can do is to teach her what I think I know, and besides that, I have to accept that she is a separate entity than me with her own, evolving identity.

Eventually, I must cut the umbilical cord and let her be whoever she wants to be, whether it be a Pilot, a Dinosaur Princess or a Fashion Diva! I can grit my teeth if she becomes a serial selfie-taking, bubble-headed, self-proclaimed, new-age Princess (images of a giggling Sonam Kapoor float into my head. *Brrrr!*) but I guess if narcissism keeps her light-headed and happy, then I will have to be happy that at least she’s happy!