To Dads, With Love

Since tomorrow is Father’s Day, we here at Gen X Moms Blog wanted to take the time to acknowledge all you dads out there.  

To our children’s fathers, we salute you.  Don’t get us wrong: there are days we loathe you.  After all, you supplied the other half of our children’s DNA.  If it weren’t for you, there wouldn’t be anyone running around the house “decorating” the walls – with our tubes of lipstick.  And, if it weren’t for you, there would be no one sitting at our table in the restaurant screaming at the top of their lungs.  In fact, if it weren’t for you, we’d be at work right now, in an office, taking the abuse of an overbearing boss – but at least that boss would be a peer, not someone thirty-plus years younger! 

But, those days really are the rare ones.  There are so many days we are so grateful to you just for fathering our children.  You gave us the most precious gift a woman could ask for.  A child of our own.  Without you, we wouldn’t be moms.  Every time our children hug us, we have you to thank [at least partially]. 

And, we would be remiss for not thanking you for the entertainment you provide us on a daily basis.  Yes, we claim we are laughing with you when you put the baby’s diaper on backwards – but we are also laughing at you.  We love to see you in your element, becoming a human jungle gym in the middle of the living room and playing airplane in the backyard.  It makes us smile to see you lose, time after time, at Candy Land and checkers.

Thank you for what you do to make our lives easier.  Thank you for taking out the garbage night after night, even though you didn’t put those smelly diapers in it.  Thank you for the nights you know that takeout is in order when you hear the exhaustion in our voices.  Thank you even more for offering to pick up said takeout. 

To our own fathers, thank you, too.  Thank you for helping shape us in to the smart, sassy, independent women we are today.  Thanks for helping us learn to stand on our own two feet and for teaching us what it means to truly love your child.

Now, here are some personal tributes to our own dads.  Feel free to comment with your own favorite memories with your dad or your own tributes.

From The Librarian: 

Though he never had much interest in sports, my dad taught me how to play chess at a young age, shared his love of music with us and provided us with many resources he did not have growing up. In fact, our house boasted one of the very first Apple home computers and an early model VHS VCR. Boy was that thing HUGE compared to now. I think the first movie I owned (presented by Santa Claus) was the Outsiders which I LOVED and was so excited to watch to my heart’s content. He also took us out to eat often, something he never got to do until he was an adult and he made sure we had at least one awesome family vacation each year. Whenever a big blockbuster movie like one of the Star Wars trilogy or ET came out on a Friday, he took us out of school early so we could get a good spot in line (anyone remember when you could only see a movie at the theater?) on the very first day the movie came out. Not many parents I knew were doing this, it was a treat. Even though I was one of four kids, he made time to spend just with me, often going to see awful movies like Goonies three times. In fact, I attended my first concert with Dad. I’m embarrassed to say it was Hall and Oates but we had a good time. Happy Father’s Day and thanks for the great memories, Dad!

From The Legal Eagle: 

My dad died when I was 14, so we didn’t have nearly enough time together.  However, he filled my childhood with a lot of happiness.  I have a lot of wonderful memories of him – all the Braves games we attended, the vacations we went on, all the Police Academy movies we watched together.  His death reminds me that every day I have with my own children is a gift.  I love you, Daddy, and miss you immensely.  I wish my girls could have met you.  They would love you as much I do.  Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

To all you Gen X Dads, take tomorrow to relax.  Hug your kids.  Play with them.  And, if you don’t mind, the diaper pail needs to be emptied.

Sleeping: What Worked for Us Part 1

I’ve heard it said that sleep is the Holy Grail of parenting. We were lucky in that Mouse slept through the night very early on. But naps and getting him to go to bed, let alone sleeping in his crib? Yeah, good luck with that.

There are as many ways to get a child to go to bed and stay asleep as there are individual children. But for some reason, sleep techniques are about as controversial as it gets, with many sleep adherents believing that their way is the Right Way, and others are at best, foolish, and at worst, downright harmful.

Now first let me make this clear. Gen X Moms is a No Judgment Zone. All of us moms have different parenting styles and techniques, all of which are equally valid. What we all have in common is that we love our kids. There’s nothing like a vibrant conversation, and it’s only by listening to other voices that we all can understand each other. So if you’re looking for the One Right Way to do anything, you’ve come to the wrong blog, but if you’re looking to read and share ideas and support one-another, welcome! This entry and its soon to be posted companion are what worked for us to get Mouse to sleep, and I hope you find some helpful tips and share your own.

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I traveled to visit some friends in Northern California. One friend, whose daughter was 6 months old at the time, pressed a book into my hands and emphatically stated, “This book saved my life. I. Am. Not. Exaggerating.” The book was Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby On The Block, and once Mouse arrived I knew just what my friend was talking about. It saved our lives too. And I’m not exaggerating either.

You can read some excerpts here, but as a quick overview, Dr. Karp’s premise is that babies have 5 different ways of calming themselves in our wombs, and if we re-create those 5 ways, we can help our babies calm themselves after they’re born. I know, my first reaction was “re-create the womb? Puh-lease!” but the more I read, the more sense it made to me. His approach is summed up in the “5S’s.”

S #1: Swaddling. Babies are curled up very tightly in our wombs and to set the stage for the other calming approaches, you swaddle them so they don’t jerk their arms, feel like they’re falling, or wake themselves up. I cannot tell you how well swaddling worked for Mouse. It was a true “off-switch” for him, and he couldn’t sleep without it. We swaddled him until about (a pediatrician-approved) 8-9 months. When he outgrew commercial swaddlers, I invented my own. The key to swaddling we found was swaddling tight. Mouse’s arms needed to be right by his side and the more tightly he was bundled, the calmer he got.

S #2: Side or Stomach-laying. Babies don’t sleep on their backs in the womb, and even though that’s the safest position for SIDS, it’s difficult for many babies (like ours) to fall and stay asleep flat on their backs. Rocking or holding the baby in a side or stomach position is another off-switch. Mouse ended up sleeping in his bouncy chair, but when he’d get really fussy, it was all about holding him in a side-lying position in our arms.

Binky Fail

S #3: Shhhhhh. It’s really noisy in the womb, what with all of that liquid sloshing around and noises from the outside coming in. In fact, Dr. Karp posits that this is why babies in the womb are so active at night–once it’s quiet, that’s when they wake up. Dr. Karp emphasizes that it’s okay to be really loud, since it’s really loud in the womb. Again, we got all up in Mouse’s grill and Shhhh’d at the top of our lungs (so to speak) and the louder we did it, the calmer he got.

S #4: Swinging. Pretty self-explanatory. Unfortunately for us, this didn’t work for Mouse no matter how hard we tried, but it works really well for a lot of babies.

S #5: Sucking, as in a finger or pacifier. Again, Mouse never went for this. He couldn’t keep the binky in his mouth but eventually didn’t seem to care much anyway. But it does work for lots of babies.

In short, read the book, and buy it for any new parents or parents-to-be. They will thank you profusely!

The Scrivener