Friday, August 24, 2012

Letting Sleeping Dogs (And Babies) Lie

Precious little Raelynn sound asleep on our bed next to her daddy.

I realized today that I hadn't written a new post in a couple weeks (and received a few emails about withdrawals from my blog). Shameful, I know, but I just started back to work after our summer break and it's the usual getting back into the swing of things coupled with a boss who is as nice as the day is long but makes so many annoying and counterproductive changes that you start to forget just how nice she is. That's been a bit of a headache, honestly, but there is something that only the most astute readers of my blog will notice has been missing. Why, MIL of course! The reason is that I've decided to let the old dog lie. For now.

See, just before my vacation was over, she had come over to watch Raelynn so I could squeeze in a workout. I'd been under quite a bit of stress over the break because Raelynn's routine had been shifted around again. My once easy-to-put-to-sleep baby was now Rosemary's baby. It was horrible. In addition to asking my friends back home, pulled out some baby books and began looking for answers and ways to cope. In the end, the combination of white noise and giving her breast milk made Raelynn go right to sleep. But one book I read in particular, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, basically condemned me for everything I was doing that everything I was doing was wrong. It admonished parents like me because our children will never learn how to go to sleep on their own.

Blearily, I looked at MIL.We can say what we want about her (I can surely say LOTS. I already have, in case you haven't seen the rest of this blog.) and one of those things is that this woman does not read. I know I've pointed that out in many posts before (not sure which ones...perhaps all of them) and truly, while I know she CAN read (my husband has left her notes in Chinese) I never see her sitting and reading a book or magazine while Raelynn naps and she awaits my inevitable return. Chinese people are like this, especially the older folks, according to my husband. My husband, having studied abroad, is not like this at all. So, the old bag doesn't read. So what? Well, that got me thinking. If she doesn't read and most people here are of the same likeness, then NONE of them would read a book like the one I was reading (or any book about putting babies to sleep for that matter) would they? I know I make fun of this country a bit (and the people from here) as they have some very questionable child-rearing ways. And I know I make fun of MIL much more than just a bit. But the thing is, my husband - her son, has no problems sleeping. Meaning that MIL actually did something right.

Jeremy is out almost as soon as he lies down. Sure, he snores like a bear gargling with a pig that's choking on a chainsaw which totally sucks for me since I can sometimes still hear him even through earplugs, but he is always sound asleep. He'll sleep through any ruckus Raelynn might cause at 3am too. I wish I could sleep that well. So as Raelynn runs back and forth between MIL and me, I ask in Chinese how she puts the baby down for a nap. I know what she's going to say as I've seen her hard at work, trying to get my little diva to go to sleep. She described how she holds Raelynn over her shoulder, patting her back and walking around the room until she falls asleep. The book told me all those things were considered props. So I ask MIL how she once put Jeremy to sleep as a baby. And she told me she did the same thing for him too. Until he was how old, I ask her. She doesn't know what I mean. I elaborate further by asking her how old he was when she could just put him in his crib and he'd go to sleep. Ah! She nods, understanding, and I find it remarkable that my Chinese has improved enough that I'm having a conversation with this woman that doesn't revolve around her asking me how the dumplings taste and me replying they are good. She tells me that my husband was 3 when he would go to sleep on his own. Sensing my worry, she then told me that Raelynn is still small and when she's bigger, she will go to sleep all by herself.

And with that, I realized that maybe MIL isn't a total idiot after all. Oh relax. She's still a partial one. She'll still do enough things for me to complain about so don't you worry. Like the other day when my husband and I took Raelynn out for a family day. We went to the church play group and then off to lunch. And in the pocket on the side of the stroller, I noticed something. I dug in there and to my disgust, there was one of the baby's washcloths. I remembered being puzzled a few days before that when I'd realized it was missing from the bathroom. I thought perhaps she'd thrown it into the laundry basket and gotten so busy, I'd forgotten to check. There it was, still wet and in a plastic baggy. MIL had likely packed it in there in case Raelynn got her hands dirty. It would of course never occur to her to use one of the hundreds of wet wipes, now would it? No. Because it is much more fun to leave a wet washcloth in a baggy for days so it has an absolutely vile smell. That's okay though because once I forced Jeremy to take a whiff of it, he assured me he would insist to her that she take the wet wipes instead next time.

So, I've been going a little easy on MIL. And it's more peaceful around here. It makes my husband happy and I feel less stress. I hope it will stay like this, at least for a little while. Old habits do die hard though and I know I'll be back to my usual bitchiness as soon as she does something to poke the bear. Stay tuned!

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