Elyse Lalonde has always called Saskatoon home. She started on the motherhood journey in the Summer of 2015 when she had her son. Elyse is a working mom, always seeking a fine balance in life with a busy toddler. As a Mommy Connections “alumnus,” she enjoys socializing with moms and babies her son’s age. Elyse has always enjoyed writing and journaling, and hopes to share her experiences (good, bad, and sarcastic) with the online parenting community in Saskatoon.
Having a child brings out nostalgia for many reasons. For me, watching my son interact with his world brings out the best memories from my own childhood. I want him to have what I had. I want him to experience the big things, like travel, and Disneyland, the outdoors and summer lake life, California sun and Arizona cacti, multitudes of cousins, and birthday parties with cone hats, and road trips….
And now to drastically change course. I will finish my point later, I swear.
It is 11:48pm on a Friday night, and my husband and I have not yet found deep sleep. Instead, we find ourselves with our toddler son, laying between us in bed. Off and on for many a night, our son has awakened to fits of coughing and snot covered sheets, not upset and not fully awake, yet frequenting his pantomimed self-soothing moans, groans, songs and odd noises. There are many an unlucky eve where this tale repeats itself, for hours…. For weeks. I blame teething, and I have finally reached the point in my motherhood where I can comfortably and confidently admit that my son is a bad teether. Through no fault of his own: it’s just that his gums are made of steel. And mother nature’s a wicked cow for making him snotty and congested.
Let me just posit that this is not a tangent on teething, sleep, or co-sleeping. But I will point out that co-sleeping has never worked for us. I can only bring to mind a small handful of other times we have attempted this act– unsuccessfully. This night was no exception.
After attempting to soothe our son back to sleep in his crib, in his own room, where he has slept successfully since he was 7 weeks old, my husband decided to bring him into bed with us. And our little guy was his usual sweet self, but half asleep, which made me oddly satisfied. I thought “okay! Wow.” We may actually get a good cuddle in tonight with this little dude. I mean, I know it may not be the best sleep, and we’ll be tired, but not more tired than we already are. And we’ll probably get kicked, or slapped, or squished, but its all for the cause of comfort, right?
Sure. If you count my son mumbling to himself about playing with his favorite truck, uttering something indiscernible about a friend at daycare and eating cheese, then yes. It was a pleasant time where we defended ourselves from the random flailings of our not-yet 2-year-old baby boy.
It was 12:18pm when our son sat bolt upright and asked for lotion for his belly when we decided to put him back to his bed. Sure enough, without any “unusual” delay shorter than 40 minutes, he was asleep by 1:00am…. And awake for the day at 5:22am. Another story for another day.
And it is here that I return to nostalgia. I always wanted to reflect on a time I had cuddled my snuggly baby to sleep, but then I had my son who decidedly slept better by himself in his own space. In his own room, in his own bed, where he falls asleep to his own sounds, and not my arms. Don’t get me wrong: it really is fantastic, and we all love our independent sleep! Yet there is a part of me that wishes he was more snuggly, or that he could occasionally co-sleep. And yet I imagine that this desire to have him be something other than what he is feels disgraceful. Then, I connect the dots:
Thinking about my expectations or his experiences with us, be it sleeping, eating, or playing gets me wondering. Am I being open to the moments and the potential experiences that are in front of me right now? Today? Or am I stuck wondering what could be, or should be, better when it comes to shaping my son’s memories, or childhood? My awareness and separation of my past experiences versus his is quickly growing– just like my son is.
I spent time at Disneyland when I lived in California as a 5-year-old: my son will most likely never live anywhere else except Saskatchewan, at least not while he’s under our roof and care. I mention Disneyland every now and then to my husband, who has no interest in towing a toddler to a hot place with copious amounts of screaming and overly-tired and ecstatic children. Oh, and their crazy parents. Because parents who take their kids to Disneyland are nuts. Yup, I said it. (No judgment though: I count myself as a crazy parent, anyways).
It’s the whole “experience vs. reality” debate that goes on for me internally. I want my son to have the magical experiences that I had. But as a parent? I foresee “experiences” like Disneyland to be an energy draining, egregious nightmare, complete with hair pulling and an empty wallet. I ask myself: would I be doing this for me, or for him? My experience as a mom at Disney will ultimately be more stressful, and I will never re-create my childhood experiences for my son. Because as a parent, it is my job to lay the groundwork for fun experiences. But I can’t control how or when those good memories are created.
And although he may experience the cone hats, my son won’t have copious amounts of cousins, and I hope to all heck he never experiences the agony of a cactus needle, and that is all okay. His world is different than mine was. My intent is to give him the experiences to learn, grow, and have fun. His childhood may not be 6 week-long road trips through the U.S like the ones my family used to embark on, but the local spray park instead on a sunny long weekend. Or a memory of a time where he tried to snuggle to sleep with his parents, and he talked about eating cheese and wondered why the door wouldn’t open on his toy truck…
Being with him day-to-day and watching him learn and grow makes me nostalgic for my childhood. But that was my time: now is his.