Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bathtubs Make Good Beds Sometimes

I came across this book today on Twitter: Go the F@#k to Sleep, a thought we parents have all had at one time or another about our children, who often, will not. go. to. sleep. 

Don't lie. You know you've thought it! 

And author Adam Mansbach knows it. "When 'Goodnight Moon' just isn't cutting it ... one dad and novelist has written a bedtime story to warm the hearts of sleep-deprived parents everywhere: 'Go the F@#k to Sleep.' "

Children and sleep. Oh, the tales I could tell. I'm a co-sleeping parent, from way back before co-sleeping was such a hip thing to do. I did it because I was desperate and co-sleeping accomplished my goal of getting (barely) enough sleep!

Seriously. There's a reason my husband nicknamed our first son, "Draculita." If I tried keeping Martin awake during the day, he was overtired and too crabby for sleep at bedtime. If I let him sleep during the day, he was too wide awake to go to bed at a decent time -- say, sometime before 3 a.m. Oh, I tried letting him cry it out. Once. And for weeks afterward, I couldn't round the corner into the next room without him screaming over my perceived disappearance.

For everyone's sanity, I stopped exclusively breastfeeding and let my husband start getting up with the baby during the night and bottle-feeding. Martin didn't care he was getting a bottle. Breastmilk, formula, he didn't care as long as it filled his belly. But he sure cared about (not) going to sleep in his crib. He wouldn't have it.

The crying and screaming were relentless, no matter how hard my husband tried. I'd turn off the monitor, close the bedroom door, stick plugs in my ears and shove my head under my pillow. But there was no escaping the miserable cries of a baby who wanted to play at 2 a.m., but was instead being rocked to sleep.

I confess. I thought it: "Oh, child. Please. 'Go the F@#k to Sleep.' "

I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed a big, fluffy bed comforter, a blanket and an armful of pillows. I threw them in the bathtub in our master bathroom, flipped on the ceiling fan, pushed the door shut and curled up in a ball. Just the humming of the fan and my nice, new, white, porcelain-coated cocoon. Ahhh, peace.

It's the only way I survived those early months!

Several years later, a close friend had a baby girl. My friend looovvvvves her sleep. Even as an adult, she sneaks in an afternoon nap whenever she can. (And let me tell you, we are all happier people when she gets a nap.) I knew after first baby arrived, she was gonna be hurtin' for sleep. And it was not going to be pretty.

I'll never forget one of our first conversations after her baby arrived:
Me: "Hey! How're you feeling? How's that whole sleep thing going?!"
Her: "I'm soooo tired. Oh, my God. You know how I am about my sleep. And she. won't. sleep. She just cries. I'm going out of my mind!"
Me: (chuckling under my breath) "You'll be OK. Sleep when she sleeps. I know it's not your philosophy, but if you get desperate, try letting her sleep with you. "
Her (obviously not listening to me): "Is she ever going to sleep through the night? This is killing me. Oh, my God. You were so calm with Martin when he was a baby. I'm a terrible mother, Karen. Some nights, I swear, I would never do it, I love her so much, but oh, my God, some nights, I just want to throw her out the window! How did you ever not want to throw Martin out the window?!"
Me: "I did! But, hello, I didn't go around telling people that!"
Her: Huge, audible sigh of relief.
Me: "You know. The bathtub makes a very good bed sometimes." 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grasshoppers and Horses

Yum! Grasshoppers and Horses are a sweet combo!
Grasshopper cookies make me think ... horses.

Growing up, I rode other people's horses through leasing agreements -- Copy Cat, Goose, Mini Dude, and my favorite, Bandit. After Bandit was shipped back to her owners in Atlanta, I suddenly found myself 15, horseless and seriously heartbroken.

That's when mom spilled the beans -- I was getting my own horse! On May 22, 1980, as a belated birthday gift, my mother gave me a beautiful, gray mare named Irish. How perfect was that -- my birthday falls on St. Patrick's Day?! It was kismet. She was rotten when I brought her to Coventry Farms, but over the first year, we learned a lot about and grew to trust each other. We were a great team.

My beautiful, gray mare, Irish. Her show
name was Shades of Gray, so named
after a song by The Monkees.
I rode competitively and loved it! Not just the riding part, but the hanging out with Mom at horse shows part, too. She would rise before dawn (and let me tell you, my mother  is not a morning person!) to braid my horse's mane and tail, fighting arthritic hands. And every horse show, she would pack our favorite cookies -- Keebler's Grasshoppers, thin, wafery, mint-chocolate goodness. 

Thank you, Mom, for all those wonderful weekends of braided manes, shiny riding boots, nervously holding on to my horse by the reins, anxiously watching me jump fences when surely you wanted nothing more than to hide your eyes! (I realize this now that I'm a mom.) 

It all happened 30 years ago, but often feels like yesterday. Whenever I see, smell or eat Grasshopper cookies, I think about my horse shows, remember Irish, and feel very grateful not only for the outlay of money it took to support my habit, but especially for the investment of time, love, and enthusiasm my mother gave during a crucial part of my life. My days at the barn are the best, best days of my adolescence.

First show at Killearn Stables, Walk Trot, first place.
Eventually won champion for the day. The pony is Copy Cat.
Mini Dude looking perky circa 1977 at the Springtime
Tallahassee Horse Show at the Leon County Fairgrounds.

Goose! Crazy-looking, dappled, Appaloosa
mare. Sweet girl. We won championship
that day in our short-stirrup classes.

My Lady Bandit hanging out having
fun on the weekend.
Bandit looking AWESOME after a show
at Brookwood in Thomasville. It was
an off day, but still a lot of fun.