If you clicked through from your Google reader hoping for an answer to the above then I am sorry to disappoint you. Perhaps I should have titled this post, ‘How to be a parent without a caffeine addiction?’ – but I do know plenty of parents (incredibly!) that do manage to parent on only milk, water and juice for their daily hydration. And I’m sure there’s plenty of amazing attachment parents running on little sleep, whilst surviving on oats, sun salutations, herbal remedies and a very zen frame of mind (kudos to you my friends!).
I am now nearing eight years of parenting and, apart from periods of decaffeinated coffees (pah!!) through pregnancies, I do not function particularly well without my daily latte (or three).
With my first child I was totally miffed that I didn’t have a ‘sleeper’. I felt like a failure. I tried all the different ‘methods’ people told me I should try… but many of them upset me to the core (and my poor first child too) and I just couldn’t see them through. Sadly the stress hormone cortisol has done its permanent damage on her brain chemistry (I knew nothing about this until reading about it later in her little life), as it did to me (which explains why I don’t handle stress well, experience periods of mild-depression, am a ‘worrier’ and have high anxiety levels).
I was born at a time when nurses removed babies from their mothers at birth and placed them in a cot, in a nursery, with all the other newborns. I was taken to my mother for feeding once every four hours. My father couldn’t touch me for two weeks. Fathers would line up and look through a glass pane, waiting for their child to be held up for them to ‘view’ (my father told me this was really, really hard – he so wanted to touch, caress and love me). Thankfully, I am blessed with incredibly loving, caring, supportive parents, who have always done their very best, with the knowledge they had at the time, to try and turn me into a reasonably well-adjusted adult. So though I am naturally ‘highly strung’, I’m doing ‘okay’.
My children have been born in a new age where parents are more informed than ever before (and the coffee is really, really good!). There is more ‘acceptance’ of different ways to parent. There is no ‘one size, fits all’. Parents are beginning to listen more to their instincts and try to fit what feels ‘right’ around their own personal lives.
It took me a while, probably well into my second year of parenting, to really start ‘listening’ (and after reading a lot!). But finally I discovered what worked best for me and made me a happier, more contented parent. I learned that, for me personally, I needed to full embrace parenting with every cell of my body and surrender completely. I let go of all resentments that I initially harboured about ‘losing’ my ‘before child’ freedoms. I learned to love the magic that surrounds children and the way they see the world. I discovered my new best friend – latte!
And, I took to ‘parenting’ my children to sleep, happily letting them into the parental bed. It felt right, it felt good. I slept better – though my children didn’t ‘sleep through’. I let go of expectations of my children ‘sleeping through’ at a certain age. Caffeine became my friend 🙂
Now with my third child I don’t have a social life in the evening and I don’t care. I get plenty of ‘socialisation’ during daylight hours. My iPhone is company enough in the evenings, in bed, with a child next to me (my poor husband must regret the day he decided to give me an iPhone for Christmas).
I discovered carrying my children in a sling, backpack or any other contraption that ties baby to me, helps ease them to sleep without tears. I learned to tune out to the ‘do not feed your child to sleep’ message – as it simply seemed a peaceful, delightful way for my child to drift off to sleep. Call me a ‘human pacifier’ if you will, but I’m fine with that – and I now know, for fact, that it doesn’t last forever (even though my middle child had a little night cap of mummy milk till she was 4 – it was only 10 minutes out of a 24 hour day – but still…).
So, caffeine is my little indulgence. I have surrendered myself to parenting my little loves in their young years – but I really don’t know how I’d do it, and keep sane, without this…
And though I’ll one day get my social life back at night and have children that sleep through without needing any parenting to sleep, I’ll always keep my friend ‘Latte’. They’ll come a time, all too soon, when I’ll be waiting up late to hear the sound of the key in the latch or be required to pick up my children from a party in the wee hours… yes, it’s good to have a little indulgence 🙂