31 August 2011

I admit it.......I'm a liar!

The other day a friend posted on FaceBook that her darling baby boy had decided that 5am was an appropriate time to start the day. Given she is a friend and her son is young than Layla, I thought it was appropriate for me to comment on her status. I noted that we never stared our day at 5am and perhaps some controlled crying was in order. Shortly after I relied to her post, I realised what I had done.

I had turned into one of 'those' Mummies who either:
    a. has an unusual baby who sleeps well and has always been a dream sleeper and thus has no clue what Mummies with non-sleeping babies actually go through;
    b. a Mummy who, thanks to sleep deprivation or the need to save face, paints an unrealistic picture of her baby's sleep habits; or
    c. a Mummy who has simply forgotten just how hard the first year really is.

I think I fall in category C.....either that or I'm just a big fat liar!

Just the other day while discussing Layla's sleep habits a member of my extended family said that he did not remember his kids ever going through a stage of unexplained night waking. I must admit that I felt truly crushed when he said it. Over the past three months, Layla has been waking in tears for 2-3 hours EVERY night. I have no idea why - perhaps it is separation anxiety or teething. What I do know is that I have had heaps of advice, read plenty of books and done a fair bit of soul searching. So far I have no answer. I've tried all the techniques. Even holding and rocking doesn't seem to work. Each night I hope tonight will be different, but generally it isn't. I'm fumbling through each day feeling like a zombie with little if any light at the end of the tunnel. Layla sleeps well during the day and goes to bed easily and quietly. It's the night crying that I am at a loss to understand. I know that this can't last forever but three months on I've accepted it to be the norm (for now at least).

As Mums (and Dads) we try so hard to help our children reach their milestones. Sleeping is just one of them that seems to preoccupy our consciousness so much of the time. All we want is for a sense of normality to return our lives and for your children to progress. Despite these humble aims, there is a real sense of competition in needing to prove to each other that our child is progressing faster than another.

So in short, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I have had to start my day on a few occasions at 5am (despite not liking it one bit). I have also had 16 months of night waking that I am fed up with and hugely embarrassed about. Sleeping at our house is a long way from being normal or perfect.

As a result of this blimp, I promise to be more aware that every parent goes through their moments of unexplained behaviour that we'd rather not admit to. All you can do is hope that tomorrow things get better!

21 August 2011

Looking in the mirror

Needless to say, I don't remember what I looked like as a small child. There are some days that I hardly remember what I looked like yesterday or last year. Photos and video provides us with an experience in time travel that lets us go back to the way life used to be. I've often looked back at photos of the hideous fashion faux pas of my teenage years, the time I spent travelling when I finished school, even my early school years that seemed like a lifetime ago. However, it has been my recent reflections on my toddler years that are absolutely fascinating to me right now.

I've looked at these photos over the years with fondness of times gone by but now that Layla is at a similar age, I am mesmerised. I look at these photos and I used to see the innocence, my childhood, the happiness. Now all I can see is Layla!
As a grandparent, my Mum often tells me of the delight she feels in being able to spend so much time with Layla as it lets her experience my childhood all over again.

These photos have made me think about the journey of life I have taken and all that lies ahead of Layla. I wonder whether our paths will be the same or different.

When your child is born, the moment is so emotional and awesome that the enormity of the reality of life can be lost. As newborns, their personalities are barely present. As toddlers, who they really are starts to shine through. There is something so special about having a child who looks like you. It is quietly satisfying but mostly scary. Everyday I look at her and see myself and wonder what the future will bring.

So my favourite thing right now is anything to do with photography. I'm loving my iPhone and it's ability to capture photos and video where ever we are. I'm also loving my investment in a digital SLR camera. I realised a little while back that I was missing so many beautiful times with Layla and that my compact camera was letting me down. So I took a deep breath and jumped in  with both feet. All I can say is that the shots are amazing, I'm obsessed with learning more and buying new lenses and now kick myself for not doing it earlier.
My Nanna owned one of the first portable (ha!) video cameras. The contraption had a camera and a bag that housed the recording equipment. She lugged that thing around on holidays and always had it set up for family special occasions. Ironically, my Nanna has been gone for over twenty years now yet the memories of our childhoods live on. Being able to watch myself at Layla's age brings a whole new perspective for me to her childhood, the amazing job my Mum did in raising us and how much life has changed. I hope to be able to pass on the memories my Nanna captured along with my snaps to Layla so that the memories continue with the generations.

20 August 2011

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

The milestones of a child's development are amazing, painful, wonderful, scary and extremely tiring. Having survived the first year, Layla and my journey continues. I've spoken about the fantastic book 'The Wonder Weeks' before. The guidance on riding the waves of developmental leaps has been like having a special voice of comfort in times of worry and change. However, the latest leap has been more than trying. Over the past almost three months Layla has been going through some major changes. Her mind has been working overdrive. We've had serious separation anxiety resulting in hours of crying and night waking. There has been gastro and a cold to top things off. I've been a walking zombie going to work on two hours sleep and my marriage has been tested as the effects of sleep deprivation take it's toll.

The journey Layla has been preparing for came to fruition over the past two weeks. Her journey of a thousand miles has started with a single step. The first steps came a couple of weeks back while I was at work. She took a few unaided steps while with my Mum. I was both pleased and proud as well as devastated to have missed this milestone. The weeks that followed have been filled with attempts and falls, frustration and joys. The single steps has rapidly evolved into confident walking. We've graduated from soft leather slippers into big girl walking shoes. It is delightful to see her face fill with confidence and achievement as she conquers each days next walking challenge. The steps are becoming strides. Soon walking will become running. The complacent baby in her pram has become a boisterous toddler determined to walk everywhere despite the risks and dangers.

I'd like to say that the past fifteen months has flown by. In many ways they have but in other ways, the journey has been made up of many hard, challenging, sad, happy, tiring, exciting and slow steps. Each developmental leap has posed a new dilemma for me as a Mum and for Layla as a growing child. This last leap has been the hardest so far. I thought that as each step was achieved, things would get easier. In actual fact, each step build on the one before. Each step is steeper and higher and further away from the one before it. I look at back at newborn babies and pregnant women in the street and can hardly believe that I too was here not that long ago.

In order to mark each step, I have decided to commence a new project. I've decided to photograph each of Layla's shoes and build the pictures into a montage paying tribute to the huge steps we have taken together. I want to capture the new shoes as a symbol of anticipation and excitement that the future holds as well as the tired, worn and experienced shoes that show where we have been and how we survived. At times I feel like I have lost my opportunity to be creative now that my time has dwindled. This project will let me build a living tribute to the journey Layla and I are on. I look forward to being able to share the end result with you.