Category: parenthood

A while ago – maybe eight weeks ago now? – I was whining about needing some peace and quiet. The hardest thing so far in the transition to two kids has been that a significant portion of my day is now consumed with one or both little people pulling, tugging, talking, or otherwise NEEDING me. It left me feeling exhausted and empty and going-a-little-crazy!

My Aunt Linda, who is a frequent lurker and occasional commenter here (and who is also no stranger to this dilemma, being the mom of five!), decided to let me know I wasn’t alone. She sent me a copy of Five Minutes’ Peace, by Jill Murphy, in which Mrs. Large (the mama elephant) is being driven to distraction in her search for some peace and quiet. It’s a sweet book, and it totally brightened my day. I have it propped up against my mirror in our room, where each time I catch a glimpse of it I have to grin again.

And today? My no-napper Supa-Crank conked out only half an hour into Jonas’ naptime…. so, dear readers, that means that I have TWO (count em! 2!) children napping. And Chris just called to say he’s on his way home, which means I may, in fact, make it out the door to the library all by myself as I’d hoped. And that? Adds up to WAY MORE than five minutes’ peace. 🙂

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I got a great question the other day about cosleeping. I wish I had saved it, but somehow I lost track of the text — but basically, Lindsay wanted to know more about cosleeping with our babies and how we got them to stop! Because isn’t that always the big worry about cosleeping… when and if they’ll ever stop?

First of all, seriously, I don’t think you’ll regret cosleeping. If you haven’t already, I *highly* recommend reading Dr. William Sears’ The Baby Book, and The Attachment Parenting Book. They are GREAT resources to turn to when what your “mommy gut” tells you to do clashes with a lot of mainstream thinking. It’s wonderful to be able to point to his research as “proof” for what you know & believe to be the best way to care for your little one!!! I won’t bore you, but he has a lot to say about the importance of cosleeping for a breastfeeding relationship, as well as the importance of “nighttime parenting” for building a sense of autonomy and independence in children by first assuring them that their needs will be met.

But anyway, that’s not what you asked! 🙂 Our habit in the early days was to start Jonas out in a bassinet that had a fold-down “co-sleeper” panel, so it was sort of sidecar’d to our bed on my side. On his first waking, I’d bring him into bed to nurse and he’d stay there the rest of the night.

When he was about 5 months old, Chris started residency and we found that he was SUCH a heavy sleeper especially when post-call that it was a bit of a safety concern. So we set up his crib in his room, and put the bassinet panel up and moved the bassinet to the side wall of our room. I started putting him down for naps in the crib, fully anticipating that it would be hard for him to sleep — but he seemed to love the space! 😛 They really keep you guessing! After a few days of naps in the crib, and nights in the bassinet a little further from me than before, I tried laying him down in the crib at night, and then bringing him to our bed at first waking.

That only lasted about a week, and I had a LOT of trouble sleeping those nights. I kept thinking I heard Jonas crying, and at one point I even went out to sleep in the hallway because I was sure I was hearing him cry. At the end of that week, I was rocking him just before bed one night when the smoke alarms went off in our building. Our downstairs-across-the-hall neighbor’s apartment was on fire. (You can read the rest of that story here.) We lived in a hotel for about ten days, during which time Jonas really wouldn’t accept sleeping in a borrowed pack & play — he wanted to be in bed with us, and I couldn’t blame him.

When we got settled in our new apartment, Jonas was six months old. I was feeling extremely exhausted – Jonas was waking up several times a night, and trying to keep him settled down and in his crib in his room was getting very tiring. I’ll admit – we did go the “fuss it out / cry it out” route for a few nights. It was absolutely, completely, total torture for me (and probably for Chris – and certainly for Jonas, as well). If I could go back, I would shake my then-self HARD by the shoulders and tell her to put that baby back in her bed, darnit! Even though Chris did definitely need solid sleep when he was post-call, we could have come up with a different solution – like Chris bedding down on the couch or our air mattress on those nights, or me bunking on the floor in Jonas’ room on those nights. So my advice to you, and to my future self when we ever have another newborn in the house, is to not resort to crying it out.

I firmly believe that babies don’t cry to manipulate. Even at 6, 7, 8 months – when some people will tell you that babies are “learning” how to get what they want and crying at night in order to get you to come back to them – I don’t believe that it’s a malicious manipulation. And quite frankly? If my baby is learning that “crying results in my mommy coming to comfort me”…. well, that’s a lesson I want him to learn. One of the things I have learned -and continue to learn!- over the past two years is that babies/toddlers are going to reach each developmental stage on their own time. Whether you’re talking about walking, talking, or sleeping through the night – you can’t make your child do it on your timeline. And if you have a kid who sleeps through at an early age, well, great! Lucky you. Enjoy it while it lasts, because kids are notorious for starting a great sleep pattern that their parents love, only to change it a few weeks or months down the road. And if you have a kid who doesn’t sleep through – or at least, doesn’t do it consistently – then you gotta do whatever it takes to maximize the amount of sleep that everyone is getting. And as far as I can tell, cosleeping is a great tool for reaching that goal.

But that’s getting off on a tangent again, isn’t it?

Anyway, when Jonas was 6-9 months old we had our toughest sleep stage with him. I continued to lay him down in his own crib, and would go nurse & rock in the glider in his room several times a night. When he was 10-11 months old, I found out I was pregnant and due to major first-trimester sensitivity, I chose to nightwean him. I miscarried in January, but by then we had already made the adjustment – and he was sleeping better. I don’t know if he started sleeping longer stretches at night just because of his age/developmental stage, or because of the nightweaning, but for whatever reason he started doing a 6-7 hour stretch overnight at that point. I was still nursing him to sleep in the glider rocker, then laying him in his crib. When he woke up (around 3 or 4 a.m.), it depended on my mood – sometimes I’d rock & nurse him and put him back down, sometimes (especially if Chris was already at work for rounds) I’d bring him to my bed to cuddle and nurse and we’d both fall asleep for a few more hours.

Jonas finally self-weaned at eighteen months old. Even after he didn’t need to nurse when he woke up, he still sometimes wants to come and cuddle with us (or just me, most days) in our bed in the mornings. So our path – from cosleeping to part-time-cosleeping to not-cosleeping – with Jonas was a pretty straightforward one.

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Upon the request of a friend, I’m working on a review-slash-tutorial on cloth diapering. I know it’s not going to grab the interest of many of my blog readers, so I apologize if you’re just looking for Jonas stories :p – look for a few of those soon.

There are so many options available in cloth diapering these days. If you’re not familiar with it, the DiaperPin is a great place to start your research. This is not your mama’s cloth! Gone are the plastic pants, pins, and soaking in the toilet. There are all-in-one diapers; prefold (old-fashioned) diapers with covers, fitted diapers with covers – which can be a laminated waterproof fabric, wool, or other materials; and pocket diapers.

Why do you cloth diaper?
Cloth diapers are better for the environment, according to quite a bit of research I found. Even though this wasn’t my primary reason for starting CDs, it’s a reason that has grown on me. As a result of making this switch, I started looking at many of the things around us in different ways, and we’ve made quite a few other positive, environmentally responsible choices since then.

When I found information about the study that showed an elevated testicular temperature in baby boys who wore disposable diapers, I was swayed a little further toward the side of cloth. Since his father is a testicular cancer survivor, I’d like to think that eliminating disposable diapering from his list of risk factors will have a positive effect on Jonas’s long-term health, including his future fertility.

When I first started considering cloth diapering, the big appeal was the financial savings. I got to try pocket diapers before I took the plunge and made my own purchase, thanks to a generous friend who boxed up a few FuzziBunz and all the accessories I’d need. After a week of part-time cloth, I was sure it was for us – but I decided to run the numbers for comparison’s sake. A little basic math revealed that I was spending a LOT of money on disposable diapers. (Granted, over the last year and half the sizes & prices have changed, but this gave me a general idea.)

126-ct Huggies Supreme size 2’s $46.95 => $0.37 per diaper
Huggies Supreme wipes => $5.00 (2 boxes lasts about a month) => $0.37 per diaper
9 dipes per day => $3.33 per day

$103.24 each month for diapers + wipes

TOTAL COST for sposies, birth to potty training around 2.5 years: $3,097.20

My figures below are for my startup stash of small diapers. I wanted to do a 2-day wash cycle, and I was diapering a 5-month old, so I planned for 10-12 diapers a day.

20 diapers @ 13.50* each (diaper with insert included) = $270
6 pack of cloth wipes = $6.95
Wipe Solution (“Baby Bits”) $9.95
Hanging diaper “pail” $17.50
Small wetbag for diaper bag $9.95
TOTAL COST for startup stash: $314.35
(will “pay for itself” in 3 months, as compared to disposables)

Of course, these figures were for our specific uses and might not apply exactly to your situation. The type of disposables you use, the number your child goes through most days, the amount of sales tax you pay, are all variables that might make cloth diapers “pay off” sooner or later. Also, I’ll note that if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t buy the wipes solution (because I found that making my own was cheaper and simpler, and eventually I just used plain warm water).

Jonas grew out of his Smalls around 7 months, when I switched him into Mediums. I believe he had about 24 Ms, and I probably spent around $300 on that stash. He wore Mediums until he was 14-15 months, when I put him into Petite Toddlers. (There’s also a size Large, but Jonas is too skinny to fit into those well). He has 20 PTs, which he is still wearing as a 28-month-old who is beginning Potty Learning. I found some great deals on his Petite Toddlers and I believe I spent about $240 on that stash. So overall, I spent under $900 for a “lifetime” of cloth diapers — and the savings is even greater when you consider that I’ll have to buy VERY few diapers for our new baby when she-or-he is born. 🙂

What kind of cloth diapers do you use?
Pockets are not usually the cheapest way to do cloth. I prefer them, now that I’ve tried several other methods. They are so simple to wash and dry (either on a line or in your machine); they come in a lot of colors (a silly reason, maybe, but it’s fun to match diapers to outfits!); the outer layer is waterproof and the inner layer wicks moisture away from baby’s delicate skin and helps reduce diaper rashes (in our experience); they have a range of snaps which allow them to fasten from very small at the leg and waist to much larger, so they fit baby for months (we moved into Mediums at 7 months and they still fit on the next-to-smallest snap setting at almost-11 months).

The diapers we’ve personally tried are FuzziBunz, Swaddlebees, Wonderoos, Baby Blankets, and a single Bumkins all-in-one.

I highly endorse my FuzziBunz – they are mass produced, so they are beautifully well-made. The fleece inner layer is buttery soft when new, though a little pilling is normal after many washings. I have a variety of inserts for my FuzziBunz, since when I bought them it wasn’t mandated that the Mother of Eden company inserts go with them. I am happiest with my Nurtured Family microterry inserts – they are wonderful, super-absorbent, and have not gotten that “stinky insert” problem once.

The Swaddlebees are a good pocket diaper. They are narrower through the crotch and have a lower rise, which makes them a good choice for a skinny and/or petite baby. One downside to the SB is that it requires a special tapered-through-the-middle insert, so if you have a mix of SBs in your stash you have to pay attention when you are doing the stuff-and-fold part of your laundry day!

The Wonderoos pocket diaper is billed as a one-size diaper. It has an arrangement of snaps to control the waist and the rise of the diaper from teeny-tiny to pretty large. My one complaint about the Roos is that there are not snaps just for making the leg openings tighter. My little guy has always had skinny thighs, so we sometimes had a problem with a gap at the leg (and thus, some little leaks). I think this would be less of a problem if the diaper were snapped way down for a tiny baby, or opened all the way up for a larger baby.

I was given five Baby Blanket diapers by a friend who has outgrown the cloth diapering stage of motherhood. They have been well-used, but are still in great shape, which is a testimony to the work(wo)manship of these diapers. Unlike the FBs, SBs, and Roos, these BBs do not have a fleece inner layer. The inner layer is suedecloth, which is very soft and smooth. Some babies have a reaction to suedecloth, but it never bothered Jonas. I do find that suedecloth doesn’t “give up” the poo when I shake it into the toilet as easily as fleece, but it’s not enough of a problem to make me give up on these diapers. After a couple of shakes, I usually have to swish the diaper in the water to get rid of the clingy bits. (Sorry if that description grosses you out. I promise, it’s not that bad!)

The all-in-one diaper was another gift, and it’s the only item in my stash that I don’t recommend to others. The outer waterproof layer is crinkly and plasticy (though it does have a cute puppy print). The inner layer is cotton, which was incredibly soft brand-new but is now stiff. Because all the layers are stitched together, it takes a very long time to dry. It is fastened with Aplix (velcro, to all you other gen-Xers out there), the edges of which have left red rub marks on my baby’s skin.

How do you take care of your cloth diapers?
When I change a wet diaper, I pull the absorbent insert out of the pocket diaper and put it all right into a hanging wetbag that stays on our bathroom doorknob. If it’s a dirty diaper, I shake the poop into the toilet (did you know that ALL poop, whether it’s in a cloth diaper or a disposable diaper, should be shaken into the toilet and flushed? It’s actually ILLEGAL to throw human waste away in landfills. So remember: PLOP THE POOP) and then put the diaper, insert, and wipes into the wetbag.

Every other day, I wash the diapers. I just carry the whole wetbag downstairs to the laundry and dump everything, bag included, into the washer. I run a cold/cold cycle on my washer’s shortest setting with no soap (it’s just to rinse). Then I run a hot/cold cycle on the longest setting with 1/2 teaspoon of All Free & Clear detergent. (You don’t have to use that particular brand, but you do need to choose a detergent without perfumes, dyes, and fillers which would cause buildup on the fleece.) On my new washer, I then do a second hot/cold cycle at a medium length setting because my new machine doesn’t seem to rinse out as well as my old machine did. Finally, I do a cold rinse, and I’m done.

You can dry your diapers in a dryer (just remember not to use fabric softener/dryer sheets, because it will put a waxy buildup on your diapers and then they won’t absorb liquids, they’ll repel!) or outdoors on a line or drying rack. For that matter, you can do a drying rack inside, if you want!

How many cloth diapers do I need?
It depends on what you want to do with them and how often you want to wash! General rule of thumb is:
6-9 pocket diapers — enough for part-time CDing
12 pocket diapers — full time, 1-2 days between washing
12-18 pocket diapers — full time, 2 days between washing
18-24 pocket diapers — full time, 2-3 days between washing (2 days for a newborn)
24+ pocket diapers — enough for siblings to share (depending on sizes!)

Where do you buy cloth diapers?
If you’re looking to buy new, first try doing a Google search to see if there’s a local natural family living or natural parenting store near you. That’s a great way to get to see & feel the diapers in person before making your purchase, and it lets you support a local business!

If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar nearby, then I highly recommend the following websites:
Nurtured Family
Nicki’s Diapers

And — I know this may sound strange — you can also consider purchasing gently used cloth diapers through DiaperSwappers! It’s sort of the eBay of the cloth diapering world. 😉 The women on that forum are knowledgable about every facet of cloth diapers and willing to answer questions 24/7, so it’s a great resource no matter what. But one of the fringe benefits of CDing is the resale value – if you take care of your diapers, then even after months or years of use, you can usually reap between 60-75% of the amount you spent on your stashes! Of course, this means that if you’re starting out with used, you can GET a stash for 60-75% of retail value! You can often find diapers that have only been used once or twice – cloth diaper obsessed mamas are notorious for trying out every single type of diaper they can find, then selling them off after one or two tries if it’s not a good fit for their wash style or their baby’s body.

I think that’s it. Any other questions about CDing? Please ask away in comments!

*Since I purchased my first diapers, the price of FuzziBunz have gone up. There were changes required by the FuzziBunz company for all retailers, so now FBs will run you $17.95 each.

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Let’s talk toys. The recent epidemic of toy recalls has generated a lot of conversation at our dinner table, at my mommy&me playgroups, and (I’m sure) in millions of other homes. The question that comes up for me is, “What am I going to do about it?”

For starters, I’ve never been a big fan of a lot of the types of toys that are being recalled. Susan Linn, a psychologist who has studied media & marketing’s influence on children, says in her book CONSUMING KIDS: THE HOSTILE TAKEOVER OF CHILDHOOD:

“Play requires physical and/or mental activity. The impetus for play comes from
within children. It is their way of learning about the world. It is inherently
satisfying in and of itself and requires no goal. Once a goal is more important
than the activity, that activity is no longer play. In competitive sports, for
instance, once winning becomes more important than the process of playing, the
games or matches cease to be play. The ability to play and be playful is a sign
of health.

Once we acknowledge the importance of play, it makes sense that
toys—the things children play with[sic]—are also of critical importance. There’s
some unintentional irony in the face that so many toys today are labeled
‘educational’. The best toys are inherently educational in that they serve as
tools for helping children actively explore, understand, and/or gain mastery
over the world. Even if they have multiple parts, they are simple enough to be
put to many different uses, and to become different things in a child’s
imagination.

The recent proliferation of computer chips that enable toys to
move or make sounds on their own renders children passive observers rather than
active participants in play. Because children are attracted to glitz and because
these are the toys being marketed to them, they may desperately want stuffed
animals or dolls or action figures that walk and talk independently, or toys
that whiz, bang, whistle, and hoot at the press of a button. However, because
they discourage active, imaginative play, toys that do only one thing soon
become boring; children use them a few times and then are ready for a new toy
that does something else.”

I’ve written about this before. When we flood our kids’ playrooms with toys that do all the playing, all the exploring, all the thinking for them, we are taking away the most precious task of childhood. We’re not doing our kids any favors when we buy the plastic crap that sings and dances and shimmies and laughs. That’s not what kids are wired to need, anyway – they need real, live, caring adults to sing with them, dance with them, do some silly shimmies, and laugh and cry with them. But now I’m getting off track. When it comes to toys, kids have legitimate needs, too.

For kids in Jonas’ age group, the needs for play are in a few basic categories:
–sensory/exploratory play
–dramatic/pretend play
–social/interactive play

Sensory and exploratory play is how toddlers learn about the world. Kids experiment with textures, smells, sights, and tastes all day long. Toys like sand & water tables, play-dough, art supplies, & bath toys fall into this category.

Dramatic and pretend play are just beginning to emerge in young toddlers. Children start out by imitating the things and people they see every day. They play at families, household tasks, driving in the car, and more. For this type of play, kids need things like vehicles, blocks, pretend food and dishes and appliances, dress-up clothes, dolls and baby gear, cleaning supplies, and all sorts of odds and ends that can be imagined into props.

Social and interactive play happens in all sorts of ways, and often without toys. When toddlers play peekaboo, chase, and tickle, they are learning about social exchanges. Still, there are toys that help facilitate this kind of play. Outdoor toys like hula hoops, riding toys, and parachutes are great. So are indoor things like balls and books. Anything that gets kids playing with (and talking to, if applicable) other children or grownups fits in here.

:::

Kids are ready and willing to plunge into play. All they need is the toys and materials that will support, and not hinder, their natural inclination. Which brings me back to my opening question. We’re planning to avoid made-in-China toys this year. There are dozens of great companies that are making toys in the US – and dozens more that are importing toys from other, more responsible nations. When it comes down to it, I’d rather spend my money on one, quality made, safe-for-my-son, creativity-fostering, appropriate-play-nurturing toy… than on a half-dozen quickly made, unsafe-or-at-least-suspicious, shiny plastic toys. I hope you’ll think about doing the same for your kids.

I’m working on some follow-ups to this post – some links to companies that offer quality products; more information from a few of the books I’ve been reading about children’s development, toys and playtime, and a few other hot parenting topics; and our Christmas lists. (;-D) Comments are open for debate, questions, and comments…. so fire away!

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Thank you to EVERYONE who voted and commented. You guys have some excellent advice. It’s a little funny to me that those without kids ALL said “just drop him off every week!” and those with their own kids mostly said “drop him off” but a few of you had other ideas. Everything is more black-and-white, sure and certain, before you have your own kids. (I know. I swore up and down that I would do things that now I’ll never do…. and that I’d never do things I now do, or at least am considering. Ha, ha!)

So here we go. Sarah (for my dear readers, she is a friend from my hometown who was in the same grade as my brother) had a great idea to not try to leave him for that full hour block of time right away. Brilliant! I guess I was so locked in to the idea of “either leave him in the nursery or take him into the service with me” that it never occurred to me. Your idea about doing a Bible study or ladies’ group or choir that meets during the week is a great idea too – for one thing, I think all mamas need some “me” time that is spiritually and emotionally refreshing – and for another thing, it would give us another way to introduce Jonas to the physical space of the nursery and the nursery workers themselves. I wish I could jump through this screen and give you a hug.

Kari (dear readers, one of my college roommates; she now lives in France with her osteopath-student hubby; their blog is in my sidebar!), you make a great point about community child raising. I think that’s the downfall of attachment parenting – we strive for this holistic, attached, nurturing way of interacting with our children, in an emulation of so many societies around the world that do this naturally. But in the US, we don’t always have that community of family and neighbors who help us in the journey. And you CAN’T be attached to your babe 24/7 without a break, without help. So there is a very real need for those grandmother figures, the aunt figures, the cousin figures, who are capable and loving and who step in to bounce a baby on their knee, make silly faces at a toddler, and sympathize with a worn-out mama.

…oh, and about being the mom in the back of the classroom? No worries. I don’t plan to send Jonas into a first-grade classroom at all. ;-P

Cronomorph (d.r., my brother Jason), I remember Sharon mentioning that when y’all were here. Our nursery doesn’t do quite that procedure with the note and knocking on the door, so I’d have to tweak it a bit. Last time we went to the nursery, Jonas was walking beside us and holding Chris’ hand. However, he’s an AWESOME passive resistance protestor – as soon as he realized we were approaching the nursery, he sat down and went limp. (:-S) So we ended up scooping him up and carrying him in after all.

Pam (d.r., a good friend from my wild & wacky group of ladies at Plantation United Methodist in So. Fla – and mom of two), I really appreciate what you wrote. Thanks for the boost for my “mother’s intuition” or whatever. I have a little problem sometimes with that – even though I believe that I should trust my instincts, and usually do, there are some things (in retrospect, it seems to be “cultural expectations” kind of things – like, a toddler ought to be able to go to the nursery during church! – that make me waver and start some self-doubt). And thank you, thank you, thank you for the reminder that things changed when Liam became more verbal. I think I very easily fall into the trap of comparing Jonas to other kids his age – and even more dangerous, other kids his size (because he’s about the size of the 2.5 year olds in our various groups) – and for one thing, I ought to remember that he is an individual. And for another, I need to remember that although his language skills are starting to catch up, he is still not able to communicate major sentences and/or major emotions to me with words. And I don’t know how much he understands when I’m telling him he’ll be fine, he’ll have fun, etc.

So. I don’t know if tomorrow will go any smoother, but at least I feel boosted and supported and loved. My little plan is to go to worship with Jonas in tow, and try several weeks that way. Then, I was thinking we could start out in the worship service together, with either Chris or I taking Jonas to the nursery right before the sermon. (So it would only be the last 20-25 minutes of church that he’d be in there.) If that starts to work, then I could gradually take him down there at earlier parts of the service until eventually he’s there for the whole time. Conversely, I’m considering keeping Jonas with us for the whole service, but taking him to the nursery for the Sunday School hour. Like I said – don’t know if it will work, but I feel re-energized to TRY. Hopefully, no more Sundays sitting in our PJs and feeling depressed!

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A’ight, y’all – we’ve got some great advice happenin’ in the comments section and a grand total of, like, 3 votes in my totally unscientific polls. You guys!!! This is a serious plea for help! :-S Help a sistah out, get your little tuchus to the comments, and drop some wisdom on me. ….seriously…. help….

I did my first Blogger poll off to the right (for Kari, that’d be your other left….) and it looks like at least a few of you would like to hear from Chris once in awhile. I’ll see what I can do to get him blogging for a little of the male and/or medical perspective. The rest of you seem pretty happy with the status quo – more pictures! more writing! more pictures with writing! No problem. I have you covered.

******

I am so incredibly frustrated. I didn’t get Jonas in for his 15-month Well Child Checkup before we left Nashville, thinking that I’d just get him in a little early for his 18-month WCC and it would even out. When we got here, I found a D.O. in Family Practice that’s pretty near to our house and called to see if she is accepting new patients. She is – but she won’t make your first appointment until she has all your medical records. So her receptionist or office manager or whoever sent me those HIPPAA forms to fill out and mail to our old doctors. I got the one for Jonas’ pediatrician in the mail asap…. and yesterday it was returned as “undeliverable as addressed”. Well, for Pete’s sake, I sent it to the address on their website! Monday morning I’ll call them and find out the proper address. Or maybe I can fax this to them, which would speed the process a bit. At any rate, I’m starting to worry that Jonas won’t get that 18 month WCC until he turns 2!

******

New Poll starts today, and I’ll leave it up for a couple of weeks. Actually, there will be two versions: one for parents and one for non-parents. My current quandry and heartache has to do with Church Nursery. Most of you know that we didn’t take Jonas to the nursery when he was little. It was easy to wear him in a sling or carrier, let him nurse and snooze during our Sunday School and worship service, and that was that. Plus, my ideals for Attachment Parenting included not handing him off to strangers during his first year of life. Fast forward – when Jonas was about 14 months old, we started taking him to the nursery at Bellevue United Methodist in Nashville. While we were there, Chris and I never got involved in an adult Sunday School class. (I know, I know… terrible.) Anyway, so Jonas only had about 50 minutes in the nursery without us each week, and every single week it was like I was torturing him. He would burst into tears as soon as we turned down the hallway where the nursery was located. When we got to the door, he’d be clutching at my neck and screaming bloody murder.

I tried to arrive early, giving him time to get interested in the toys and other kids before I snuck away. Didn’t work. I tried to arrive exactly on time, put him in Miss Kate’s arms, and get away quickly. Didn’t work. Most Sundays, they told me that he did stop crying and get involved with a toy or a nursery helper. (He was a big fan of Blake, a 10th grade guy who volunteered in the nursery…. I suspect Blake’s motivation was being around Emma, Miss Kate’s 10th grade daughter!…. but Blake was great with Jonas, let him play with the buttons on his cell phone, you know: guy stuff. I came back to pick Jonas up at least twice and found him asleep on Blake’s lap.)

Church happens at the perfect time for Jonas’ nap schedule (he is usually up for the morning around 8:00 and ready to nap between noon and 1:00) so I don’t think it’s an issue of being overtired/ready for a nap when we drop him off.

Since we have moved, we haven’t joined a church yet. We visited at Erlanger UMC for a few weeks, and the nursery was the same story. The first week, Jonas was cool until we got into the room. It was like he saw the toys, saw the ladies, and realized it was all too familiar. Every week they assured me that he didn’t cry for very long – but when I’d pick him up he’d be exhausted and usually pink-cheeked, like he’d been crying hard. Chris and I visited the adult Sunday School and then went to the worship service, so it was also a longer stay in the Nursery – about 2.5 hours. Last week, we visted at Immanuel UMC. It’s a very big church, which is exciting for us because of all the great classes, programs, service opportunities they offer. When we took Jonas to the Nursery, we had to fill out a sticker for his back and his diaper bag, and then take a pager (like when you eat at Applebee’s). It was the same story. It was a new place, so he didn’t melt down in the hallway – but as soon as we hit the door, he lost it.

I don’t know if I can even describe what it does to me to hear him crying, see his face crumple, feel his hands gripping at my neck and shoulders. And now, he can say “Mama! Mama!” and that it like a dagger in my heart. How can I leave my precious little guy!? He has no frame of reference for this – he has no sense of time, so he really does not understand that I will be back to get him in a couple of hours. To him, it really seems like I am going to disappear through that door and never come back. I am struggling with what I should do.

Part of me thinks I should keep taking him, every week, and he will learn that it’s a safe place – a fun place. He will start to recognize the Nursery workers and the other kids, and he will learn some cute Bible songs or at the very least, he will learn that these people at Church are trustworthy.

The other part of me thinks that if he isn’t developmentally ready to be left while I walk away, then it’s senseless to push it on him. It’s like teaching him the alphabet – I could start teaching him today! But since he’s not ready for it, all my efforts will fall on deaf ears (and possibly sour him on the idea of learning it ever, if he makes a negative association with it) until he’s older and ready for the concept of letters having sounds and shapes. Similarly, maybe it would be easier to take a break from the Nursery for a few months, and try again when he is older.

I know parents who say, “My little Johnny screamed every week for six months and then he finally got over it! He’ll be fine!” but I wonder if Johnny “got over it” or if Johnny simply grew up and grew able to understand that Mommy would come back. Maybe he would have “switched on” to that concept at that age, no matter what. And if that’s the case, why torture little Johnny for six months? Why not just wait?

So, that was longwinded and if you’re still with me, then thank you. Here’s the poll. If you’re a been-there-done-that parent, what would you advise I do? (And if you choose “other” please leave me a comment with your sage advice!) If you’re not a parent yet, what do you think I should do? (Please understand that I’m separating this poll not because I value your opinion any less… but I will take it with a grain of the salt of inexperience. 😉 Heehee!)

******

A thought from the Upper Room, ’cause, yeah… I’m home by myself. Chris is on rounds. The thought of getting myself and Jonas dressed and out the door, and then enduring Nursery Meltdown 2007 by myself was just too much this morning.

In his psalms, David wrote about similar situations of being frightened and then
being delivered when God set him free from his enemies. Sometimes problems
terrify and worry us, just as conditions cause turbulence for the {airplane}
flight. In those times we may ask, “Why is this happening to me?” But as we call
upon God and trust God with our problems, we begin to understand what
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Beyond our clouds, God has something beautiful for us – something as beautiful
as that vivid blue sky beyond the clouds.

******

Happy Sunday. Only three weeks until Chris’ next vacation… {SIGH}

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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