You can’t fight change – it’s much stronger, smarter and better looking than any of us. Change needs to be accepted, adored, lavished with chocolates and generally treated respectfully otherwise it will make your life a misery! I know this. Unfortunately, my children don’t. Implementing change, when required, is a fundamental part of being a parent. A child’s part seems to be to fight the inevitable.
We would love nothing more than to let things evolve without interference, but we have kind-of-tried that several times before and it always ends badly. The need for change is not always obvious – it’s sneaky. Recently, while staring into a near empty fridge, pondering life’s big questions, such as, how can all the fresh food be eaten so quickly? What is that smell? I realised that I’ve been letting things slip.
Evening meals have become repetitive: pasta, beans, potatoes, pasta, beans, potatoes. My domestic chores have been on the slide too. Our bedroom has a chair in it somewhere, I’m sure of it, and the kids’ toys used to live in boxes. Those boxes are now redundant because I’ve been telling myself it doesn’t matter, that there’s more to life than a tidy house. But the truth is, I don’t believe that. It’s those boys, they’ve beat me! I can let The Toddler off, he’s still figuring out who the dribbling mess is in the mirror, but The Pre-Schooler, he’s been getting away with it for far too long. He attends a Montessori Nursery where they promote good house-keeping skills but while at home, he swirls through a room like a Tasmanian Devil.
I used to follow him around placing books back on shelves, toys back in the box and so on, but I gave up. He won. It’s not easy for me to say this, but outside the kitchen door there’s a crusty unidentified smear on the wall. I don’t know what it is. Why don’t I clean it off? I don’t know why, honestly, I do not know. Change is required!
I have unrealistic expectations, you see, because I’m desperate to get some of my life back. I’m not asking for a weekend break in Vienna for me and Mum, oh no, I’m talking small fry here – a tidy house and not having a wriggling, moaning, bundle of heat kicking me constantly in the night would be amazing. We’ve co-slept with both boys since birth, it’s made life easier in many ways, but wow, what a challenge.
With some rock-hard determination and lots of tears, we developed a bedtime routine for The Pre-Schooler and thankfully, most nights, he’s asleep by 7pm in his own bed. The plan is for his little brother to join him this year, but first he needs to be weaned. His days of boob are numbered but he doesn’t like it, not one bit.
I’ve taken over bedtime duties from Mum. It’s tough going. He looks up at me with his blue innocent eyes, he knows something’s going on. With love, I tell him, “You know that breast you’ve been attached to since you first opened those crusty eyes? Well, that’s finished now, Son. You’ll have some luke warm almond milk instead, served in a plastic bottle with a rubber tip. It’s not fun to squeeze, your Mama’s not attached to it, and oh yeah, I’m going to give it to you every night from now on, okay?”
He thought it was a joke. It wasn’t completely new for him because I’ve developed a daytime nap routine but, as the almond milk disappeared, it dawned on him: “This is it. This is the new routine and I don’t like it!”
Mum has loved breastfeeding. It’s been challenging, filled with emotional backs and forths, but we’ve made the decision to wean him a year earlier than anticipated. He’s scratching, biting, (especially when he has a cold) shouting and often waking every hour during the night. We don’t think he’s hungry, it’s just habit. He’s the opposite of under-nourished, he’s had a good run. But we want our bed back and Mum would like to have ownership over her boobs once more.
It takes me about an hour to get him to sleep each night. Lots of tears, laughs, crawling over my face, walking away, more tears, returning, more tears, more laughter and one constant – Mum doesn’t come into the room. I hug him, kiss him, stroke him, I never leave his side and it appears to be working. During the night Mum still gives him a little feed but what he doesn’t know is that’s also coming to an end. It’s time.
For Mum, this decision is loaded with emotion – she’ll never nurse a child again but she’s ready for the change and I’m ready to wake in the morning without a clammy toe rammed up my nostril.
BY ADAM GLENNON