It’s 2 a.m., and I’ve lost my principles

When I was pregnant, the slew of unsolicited advice that came my way was relentless. People had cure-alls for pregnancy ailments, gassy babies, fussy sleepers, and picky eaters.

“If you have a happy pregnancy, then you will have a happy baby.” (That advice, by the way, is crap. If you have a happy pregnancy, then count your lucky stars and get ready for the fireworks. A happy baby is not guaranteed.)

“If your baby is full before she goes to bed, then she will sleep all night.” (For me, this too was a load of hooey. Elyse ate to her belly puffed up like a balloon, and she still woke up every two hours.

These are just examples, and I can’t remember half of what I was told. Besides, I had my own ideas. There were some things that I was certain that I would do no matter what.

I would change Elyse on the changing table. I didn’t like the idea of dirty diapers all over the house.

I would not let my child get addicted to a pacifier. I was once with a friend, who, at midnight, was driving around the city looking for an open drugstore because her son couldn’t sleep without his binky. And of course, this was a one-of-a-kind pacifier that was found only at select locations. I did not need that sort of hassle.

I would be Mrs. Clean, wiping mouths and noses faster than they could get dirty. And my kid’s clothes would be sparkling. Hair would be neat, etc.

I would never, never, ever, let her sleep in my bed. My two-year-old cousin spent the night with me a couple of years ago, and she kicked me in the back all night.

Based on this list, some would say that I had never seen a child before. Some would say that I was setting the bar too high. And others would say that I was just plain old nuts. I think I was a little of all three.

What I didn’t account for when I came up with these ideals is the sleep deprivation factor. At 2 a.m. when you are tired and confused, you will let just about anything slide.

I have changed diapers right in the middle of the bed, and woke up the next morning to see it on the floor. And of course, the baby was still in my arms, wearing a milk-stained T-shirt.

Elyse isn’t addicted to a pacifier; she sucks her thumb instead. That,as far as I am concerned, is worse. Her pediatrician says that she will stop on her own, but I’m not convinced. Everyone I know who sucked their thumb did so right up to their driver’s license exam.

Oh, and the hair? Well that’s a story in itself. I braid it once a week in the hopes that it will stay nice for seven days. Elyse’s babysitter generally has pity on me mid-week and recombs it. I still can’t figure out how her braids last so much longer.

I realized how far that I had fallen from grace a couple of days ago when I gave Elyse a little bowl of Cheerios. She spilled half of them on the floor, and I watched her pick them up one by one and pop them in her mouth. And when she offered me one, I ate it.

Most days, though, I think I do pretty well. Elyse is a healthy, happy 18-month-old who carries a purse. I’ve got to be doing something right.

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