Monday, March 24, 2014

Why Didn't I do this Earlier?

Charlotte is sleeping through the night! I read a bunch of baby sleep books before she was born, and though they didn't agree on what age a baby can sleep through the night, I seem to recall that all of the suggested ages were waaay younger than 1 year old. (Although I guess Charlotte is really only 11 months).  I've put off sleep training because she's been sick, teething, blah blah, excuses, but since we are leaving the girls with their Nana and Poppy in two weeks, I decided I needed to get serious.

Last week she woke up at her normal time of 11:30 p.m. I knew she wasn't hungry, as I had stuffed her at dinner so I wouldn't be worried about that, I knew she wasn't poopy because she didn't sound angry. In fact, if I were to do a little voiceover to her cries, it would sound like this..."Mom, why aren't you getting me? Usually when I wake up and cry I get a reward of milk or a long cuddle. Why am I not being rewarded for waking up? I'm so cute, you know you want to pick me up..." Yes, I know she doesn't need anything at night at this age, but it's so hard to resist a crying baby. That's why I went in every 10 minutes to give her a little cuddle then put her back down. "I'm here, I hear you, I'm just not going to give you a prize for waking up in the middle of the night." Of course, psyching Charlotte out by picking her up only to put her back down made her really mad, but it was more to reassure me than for her. After doing this a couple times she calmed down and went to sleep. Elapsed time? 40 minutes tops.

The next night Charlotte slept through the night. For me, sleeping through the night for kids is the solid 12 hours they need--7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Success? Not yet. The next two nights she woke up at 11:30 p.m. again. Old habits are hard to break. I just held her for a minute, sang her a song one night, then put her back down. Five minutes tops.

Now we are here a week later, and she is solidly sleeping through the night. I'm still pleasantly surprised when I wake up in the morning refreshed and energized. And I can't help but many months ago should I have done this? How many nights was I needlessly disturbed from my sweet sweet slumber because I didn't have the gumption to listen to her cry for half an hour? Parents these days. So soft.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Story from English Class

I'll never forget a story one of my English professors told in college one time. I'm not sure why he told it, except for us English Lit people like to shake things up, but it was about modesty. He and his wife brought their baby girl to church for the first time since she was born, wearing a cute little sundress without sleeves. An older man came up to them after the Sunday service and commented on how cute their baby was..."if only her dress was modest," he casually lamented. My English teacher then told the man to keep himself and his pedophiliac tendencies away from his daughter.

Why did this story stick with me? Mostly because I'd never really thought about the sexualization of young girls in church culture. After consideration, I think the terms "modest" and "immodest" are irrelevant to young girls. I refused to read Sammy this story in a church magazine about a little girl that wouldn't go on a field trip until she put sleeves under her dress, because then she would be modest and ready to go out in public. Let's see, that would make my little girls, who I occasionally send to church in sleeveless dresses...immodest?

A while back, I tried to explain to my sister that my girls could be running around naked and still be modest, but I'm not sure she got the point..."Well, you wouldn't do that, there are pedophiles, etc." Of course I'm not going to let my children run around naked, but little children are innocent. They are incapable of planning to use their clothing to turn people on or draw inappropriate attention to themselves. They have not made any covenants to God concerning what they will wear. Thus no matter what my girls are wearing, they will always be modest. The only reason to dress a certain way now is to practice for when they are older and capable of choosing to dress in the way that lets them stand with confidence before God.

(And lady in church who declared that "some standards will never change, like not wearing sleeveless dresses," go back to church in the early 1900s and see how modest they think your dress is and if standards have changed.) Standards of dress change, but principles don't. And why our pre-occupation with sleeves? Are they just an easy cultural marker of who is righteous and who is not? I heard a mom talking about how modest her daughter is--yes, she always wears sleeves and knee length skirts but frequently her cleavage is busting out the top of her shirt, which I think should be way more of a concern for a parent...but I digress.

How do I plan to teach my girls about how they should dress now and as they get older? "Dress like a lady." "That's not appropriate for this social situation." "Let's dress with sleeves to practice being covenant keepers." "Our family rule is no bikinis." "I would hate for you to have to throw away most of your wardrobe when you start wearing garments." (Too passive-aggressive?)

I've watched with interest as the media has recently exploded with articles about modesty and my concerns about how it is taught. I thought this article most closely matched what I would say:

A couple months ago, I had a discussion with a guy in which he tried to explain how women have to take some responsibility for being raped if they're wearing inappropriate clothing. Yeah, that happened. It really bothered me, especially as one day he might be a bishop who, when a women comes to him for healing and hope through the Atonement after a sexual assault, could very well be asked by him, "Well, what were you wearing?" I didn't blame him for this viewpoint as much as the church he was raised in. The church sends out lots of positive messages to women, like "You are daughters of God, you have a divine destiny, etc." But then these are mixed in with the messages like, "Women, you are responsible for the actions of men," or "Little girls, you are being immodest by wearing certain types of clothes." These messages crowd out the good messages and make me want to leave the church and raise my girls elsewhere. Or maybe just blog about it so I can get my frustration and anger off my chest.