Since the day she was born, I have done everything, both in my power and beyond my power, to meet my daughter's needs. I have, for better or worse, sacrificed my schedule and routine in order to accommodate her demanding schedule and routine. I have been labeled "uptight," or "rigid," but I just look at it as a mother doing whatever she can to meet her child's needs.
Where's the harm in that?
She is a great sleeper (after a gut-wrenching, terrible first four months of no sleep), so I am hesitant (read: completely unwavering) when it comes to changing her bedtime routine. When it finally came time to give in and drop her bedtime bottle, I agonized over what it would do to her sleep routine. After the bottle, I would always spend an extra few minutes cuddling her on my shoulder to make sure she didn't immediately lie down on a full stomach. I don't know where that theory came from, but somewhere in my mind I decided she needed that extra time. Now, without that bottle, I still slowly rock her for a few minutes before putting her to bed. She squirms and points to her crib until I put her in. She then easily gets settled and falls asleep, yet somehow I am still convinced that she needs those extra few minutes of cuddling, regardless if she squirms the entire time until I put her down.
Plans are made around her naptime, and her naptime is based on the time she goes down at school. This way, both school days and weekend schedules are mirrored. Her schedule, even as it has evolved over the last 18 months, has managed to stay pretty consistent. After all, she needs the set routine, right?
But, let's be honest. Who really needs the extra cuddle time: Her or me? Is it really the baby who needs a strict, set routine? Or is it my own anxiety that is eased when things are predictable?
Where exactly do her needs end and mine begin?
The answer is a blurred line that I am not sure I'm willing to take a long, hard look at just quite yet, though I know it is necessary for both her and my well-being.
When she is happy, I am happy. That's stating the obvious. Any parent will tell you if their child is unhappy or in pain, they are as well. But it goes much deeper than that. In fact, the reverse is also true. If I am happy, she is happy, and if I am unhappy, she most certainly can sense it. That's something that, although it is sometimes hard to see, I am slowly learning the true importance of. I know now, with conviction, that I can't be the best possible mother to my child unless I am happy. Sometimes, for me, achieving said happiness might include a strict routine or an unreasonably strong aversion to change. Finding a happy medium, or figuring out where her needs end and mine begin, is something I know I need to work on.
But hey, admitting there's a problem is the first step, right?
And with that, I can openly and honestly admit that the daunting changes I know I must make are not only to better the life of my daughter, but to better myself, as well.
I am not naïve enough to think that everything needs to be black and white, but I know that there needs to be some separation between what is best for my daughter and what is best for me. It is not a gray area that I can navigate over night, but it is most certainly a challenge I must tackle head-on.