I just finished putting my precious little girl to bed. Note: it is 10:00pm.
It is a process we started at about 8:00pm, knowing that she would go to bed a bit later than usual due to the nap she took on the way to Grandmama’s and continued through tea, until it was just about time to leave for supper….
She was in my bed for a bit…then watching cartoons for a bit… since she clearly wasn’t ready for bed.
Then finally, when I gave up trying to get Downton Abbey Season 4 on the internet in some acceptable manner, I brought her to bed with me VERY frustrated and feeling completely inadequate in every way. This attempt however, was also unsuccessful and by 9:30, I was feeling very wound up, as was she.
I’ve mentioned before how we came to this place, but let me recap for you….
In Cambridge, Ella slept on a collapsed cot – a single bed close to the floor, so that if she rolled off, which she did often, she would not fall far. We thought this would be a good time to transition her to a big bed, and since we didn’t have a crib, it was necessary. She was around the same age that Jakob was when we transitioned him but the difference was that Jakob, at that time, didn’t know how to work a door knob and so learned quickly after a few times of falling asleep behind the door, that it was more comfortable to fall asleep in his bed. In Cambridge, we had lever handles (which is why we think that all toddlers rejoiced when Vancouver announced that it would be eliminating the door knob). Needless to say, transitioning Ella didn’t work the same way.
Now, partly because I had the time (I had no responsibility outside of my children) and partly because Ella has a special place in my heart (I went though a debilitating stage of fear about dying) and partly because of other reasons, we laid with her every night until she fell asleep and did not go through the agony of trying to train her to stay in her room and go to bed on her own. (Keep in mind she was 2 – so developmentally maybe 18 months.) But you know what? I loved it. I like to cuddle her and have her fall asleep next to me.
But fast forward 2 and a half years…and its getting kinda old. So, there I am, sitting next to her bed (because it makes me feel like we are making progress compared to laying with her in our bed) reading a book with a little flashlight until breathe softened and her limbs went limp.
Which brings me to my post (if I can remember what it was)…
Right, so the book I am reading is The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. For those who know me, know this is not the type of book I read. But every year my sister-in-law (who reads this blog from time to time) gets me a book with the word, “perfect” in the title. She has a good understanding of personality types, including my own (which is known to not get along with hers) and knows my desire to be, for lack of a better term, perfect. She also knows that I’m not perfect and she knows that I know that I am not perfect.
In the past, I haven’t taken time to read the books she suggests simply because I usually have a stack of 15 books in the queue for whatever graduate course I’m working on. But this year, I was given two books for Christmas: one , which I knew I needed to read because I love my brother and he asked me to read it and the other from my sister-in-law. I felt like I couldn’t read one and not the other and since I just came out of a marathon week of papers and needed to read sometime other than stories about euthanasia, abortion and infanticide. So I started both, to get them read right away. (Yes, I just made it sound like I am reading them out of obligation…which, in part, I am). That being said, I am trying to be open to what both authors have to say.
So tonight, I thought I would give you a few initial thoughts on Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I have just finished reading chapter two in which she talks about loving and belonging. The previous chapter was on courage, compassion and connection but her whole premise is about how to live wholeheartedly.
The skeptical calloused side of me thinks,
“Listen lady, this all sounds very nice and I am sure you are a much different person since your mid-life crisis, but I am also sure that you are quite wealthy and the parts you decided you didn’t like about yourself are what got you to where you are today – a successful researcher, author and speaker who enjoys the royalties off your New York times best seller. I, on the other hand, despite the fact that I have a bachelor’s degree, think I am somewhat intelligent, and have a husband who was educated at Cambridge, am barely scraping by, working more than full time, for less than a living wage, so that my family doesn’t end up in the projects…that is, if Vancouver had any. But aren’t these callouses the reason I am reading the book in the first place? Isn’t this book supposed to be a pumice stone for my soul?”
ahem, now that the pity-party is over…
That being said, I do see some validity in the points she is making – we do need compassion (something she doesn’t define very well), courage, connection, love and a sense of belonging. I totally get that and I completely long for those things and know they are important for a wellbeing. I know I don’t love myself as I should and so I find it difficult to come to that vulnerable place that she says is necessary. But I also have so little time at the end of the work week to be vulnerable, stop for emotions or even have time to connect with anybody…believe me, I’ve tried. And while I know it is just a season, it is still difficult to accept in the moment.
Brown mentions a comment that was left on her blog by a mental health professional when she asked her readers about the importance of self-love. He said that “perhaps our issues are like second-hand smoke.” In the moment it only seems like we are harming ourselves but years later it can be very deadly. This just confirms the anxiety I have about parenting. I worry about my children all the time because I am afraid that my bitterness will infect them and they too, will become bitter. Already, I feel like my six-year-old is far too guarded and cynical. Whereas, I would try anything and everything when I was young, Jakob is cautious, skeptical and would rather build lego or play on the ipad. I worry that when everything comes to light in adolescence, I will be to blame because in these formative years, I have to be away from home, working, or when I am at home, I’m working – distracted and otherwise resentful and bitter. I worry that the little love and patience I can mustre only for them will not be enough to keep them from the evils of the world.
There. I said it.
I know what you are thinking…a little heavy for a Sunday night, but this friends, is what happens when I can’t get Downton Abbey on the internet….maybe it’s time to get cable.
PS- I’m totally open to ideas about the whole sleep conundrum, so if you have ideas, please comment.