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Archive: The Rule

April 22, 2009

sleepingshoulder(Originally published 21/10/08) There are a number of things that only mothers of infants can truly understand. Most of these things revolve around sleep and the sensitive and volatile relationship both we and our babies have with this precious gift from God. Procuring, maintaining, protecting and extending the naps of my child are just a few of my mandates in this department and I take them very seriously.

This was not always the case. When James was a newborn he was slightly jaundiced (which was too bad because newborns are otherwise lovely looking creatures) Aside from his “liberally-applied-skin toner” visage, this meant that he slept more than the usual twenty hours per day.(note: four waking hours for a newborn can feel like four days for his mother, depending on how he chooses to spend those four hours. His options are generally limited to excretion and wailing.) I was advised by nurses, who had obviously not had children of their own, to wake him up every two to three hours to feed him.

My mum spent a week with us after James was born. She would sit on the couch stiffly and watch as I poked and prodded her grandchild, placed cold washcloths on his feet, and blew in his little face trying to rouse him. My mum does not have a judgmental cell in her body – in fact, I’m quite sure she is 10% organic matter and 90% tact. I realize now that her uterus must have been cringing as she watched my amateur display of parenting. She did ask once if I thought waking him up was really necessary, but I guess she decided I would learn The Rule on my own in good time. I did. And I have become it’s fiercest enforcer.

The Rule: One must NEVER, under ANY circumstances, wake a sleeping baby*

*exception to this rule: If baby is on fire, you may wake him/her. But do try dousing the flames as quietly as possible first.

I am currently looking into the feasibility of having the violation of this rule added to the list of mortal sins.

J.D. is constantly being unjustifiably shushed. If an engine revs on our street, I’ll violently shove an index finger to my lips in his direction while mouthing, “IF YOU WAKE THAT CHILD, I SWEAR…”

One night I had successfully led James into slumber and was rewarding myself by checking my email (other rewards include showering) J.D. sat down, looked directly at the inbox on the screen, and asked, “whatchadoin’?. This is code for “How-long-will-you-be-I-want-the-laptop.” I told him I was doing very important things (while updating my contacts list) and I gave him no definitive time frame. He sighed, and pulled out a knee-deep stack of marking from his school bag, saying he guessed he wouldn’t take a break from work after all. I felt sorry for him but not that sorry. Then he jokingly threatened to wake up the baby so he could steal the laptop. He thought this was very funny. Incredulous and outraged that he would make such a heinous suggestion, I accidentally launched the laptop and sent it sliding across the coffee table, which at the time happened to contain every noisy thing we own. The baby woke up.

Naturally, our social life has taken has taken a hit. I used to think I would have one of those babies that would sleep anywhere, on command, and thus put to shame all those parents who leave social gatherings at precisely 6:45pm in order to have their children in bed by 7. I now admire those parents who make it to social gatherings in the first place. (We have tried the babysitter route which caused both James and the sitter serious trauma.) Generally, we stay at home and play “rock paper scissors”. It’s a quiet game.

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