Monday, November 8, 2010

Vacation Interrupts Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

First a correction: My sister, who is a stickler for truth, was very agitated when she read I referred to Gram’s place of residence as an Assisted Living Facility.  It is an “Independent Senior Living Facility” and if you need assistance you are out of there.  Gram likes to talk to us about the really old ladies (those in their mid 90s) who are still kicking, and I think that all the residents are very proud of the fact that they don’t need daily assistance.  So to Gram and to Barb-I am sorry I got my terminology wrong. 

As a last minute surprise Z made a whirlwind 15 hour trip to SC to see his new niece and some of my extended family.  It took him 12 hours to get down to SC on Saturday, and he left at 7:30 Sunday morning and finally got home at around 6pm in the evening.  He chose the best day of the entire year to make the trip because he got a bonus hour of sleep with Daylight Saving Time.  I don’t want to wish the next few weeks with family away, but I also can’t wait to see him again.  And T was so delighted to see his father he didn’t know what to do with himself. 

T and I have had a really crazy week.  After the flight down here on Tuesday we didn’t get him to sleep until after 9pm.   The next day he was in the car for many hours driving to the Isle of Palms, and after visiting with my brand new niece he was late to bed again.  His nap times were messed up or nonexistent, he didn’t even stick to his regular eating schedule.  He didn’t make it to bed until 8:30 on Friday because of the big reunion party.  The bottom line is his schedule has been blown to bits for 5 days.

Before I became a mom I was pretty sure I’d be relaxed when it came to my kid’s schedule (as I type this I can hear Z laughing from many states away, I am a total control freak).  I didn’t want to hover or cater to weird unnecessary routines.  My little guy needed it, though.  I know this is well covered territory on the blog, but when he was 5 months old he didn’t nap at all during the day and he didn’t sleep well at night.  In order to emotionally get myself through the difficulties of sleep training  I would tell myself that I was teaching him a skill by facilitating a sleep schedule, that I was giving him a gift rather than being a horrible ogre as I listened to him cry it out.  And now he is a terrific sleeper.  He can handle a little bit of variation to his schedule, but as I learned on Saturday night 5 days of not knowing what end is up equals an epic multi-hour meltdown in the middle of the night.

We traveled back to my sister’s house yesterday and when we got here in the evening I told her for the next few days I was going to be pretty rigid about his schedule to get him back on track, so he might be doing things at a different time than my nephew.  It is endlessly interesting to have two babies in the family only 6 weeks apart.  It is fun to watch them develop at their own pace and see their very distinct personalities emerge.  Her sweet son never really struggled with sleeping.  My sister is a classic Type A personality.  In her opinion there is no situation that a good spreadsheet can’t fix.  But she has completely followed her son’s lead when it comes to his schedule and his easy going nature has led to much flexibility in their daily life.  He naps when he’s tired.  He eats when he’s hungry.  They have a ballpark bedtime, but if there is some variation it isn’t the end of the world for anyone. 

Although I’m a control freak in a lot of ways, before we had kids both she and I would have assumed I’d be the loosey gooesy one when it came to schedules, and she would follow a strict routine.  But the biggest factor, the one we never would have thought to consider, is the personality of our kids.  I am a big believer in the effect nurture can have on an upbringing, but being a mother has taught me how much nature has to do with it.  Our boys already have so much personality, and it is our responsibility to respond to their needs, rather than pigeonhole them into our life. 

It was fun to keep him up until 9.  I’m certainly glad we stayed up past his bedtime the night of the family reunion.  When we go on family vacations with 10 other people his needs can’t dictate our every move.  But he was clearly terrified, confused, and beyond exhausted in the middle of Saturday night.  I’m glad we were flexible for a few days, but I’m also glad we can get him back on a schedule.  The results are quick and I love seeing him become his sunshiny self again.

A very exhausted Z happy to be with T and the newest addition to our family. 

Our boys amusing the group. 

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