The unfortunate thing about this world
is that good habits are so much easier to give up
than bad ones.
The whole point of getting out of the house and going away somewhere is the change of scenery. But as parents, we secretly loathe change. We loathe change, because as much as we want to boast about how adaptable our little tykes are, the truth is that children are fanatical creatures of habit.
This means that the majority of parents who need their sanity will, upon reaching their new far-flung destination, turn around and try desperately to replicate what happens at home as much as possible.
Unbeknownst to ourselves, Tony and I had already started instilling a long list of habits and routines in our girl’s short life thus far. This includes the habit of feeding herself at least 30% of the time each meal, the habit of sitting quietly while being read to, the habit of sleeping through the night, and of playing on her own (i.e. without demanding to be entertained) for about an hour a day, in total.
Yes. All that went com-plete-ly out the window during our time in Singapore.
Creativity is very much a skillset all parents need – and I’m not talking about knitting sock puppets and decorating a nursery. It takes quite a bit of brain power to improvise and re-create a semblance of what you’re used to back home. We achieved semi-success with the feeding amidst many raised eyebrows for doing BLW (I hear of Chinese mothers who still cut up their son’s meat for them when their sons are 22.) Minimal book-reading – mostly because I kept forgetting and it’s only my lonely bee in my bonnet. Terrible sleep record – she only started sleeping through the night, 4 days before we left Singapore. Which meant we had broken sleep for a month.
But the play-on-your-own time was the biggest failure – Arddun had no shortage of willing playmates throughout her stay and by the end of our trip, I’m convinced she thought the world was filled with friendly, playful grown-ups. (This illusion was partially shattered on our flight back to Sydney but my daughter remains an optimist.) I loved that she got so much cuddle time with friends and family, but I knew that we were going to pay for it when we got back.
And we’re paying for it.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m convinced we did what we absolutely had to do. I know that was how the cookie had to crumble, given other more pressing needs. But now that we’re back home and winding down to our version of normal… well… The adjustment is tough on us all.
For weeks, even before we got back to Canberra, we’ve noticed how clingy Arddun had become. At first we’d put it down to her reaction to a foreign place, and then we thought it was teething (she left Canberra with 3 teeth and came back with 6!), and then I wondered if it was age-related and she was going through a cling-to-mommy-like-a-limpet phase.
Whatever. We’re back home now, and my daughter has surgically fixed herself to my leg.
It’s cute for about 5 seconds, and then it gets very old, very quick. Because guess what – you can’t bathe, you can’t cook, you can’t eat in peace. She views her playpen as a dungeon now – where once she’d happily play by herself for at least 15 minutes, she now clings to the bars and sobs like a waif, cruelly abandoned by a heartless stepmother. I leave her there to do said sobbing as far as I can, and pray and hope that she remembers what playing by herself is all about. Stern words only exacerbate the situation. In the end, Tony caved this afternoon and took her out for a second walk so I could at least tackle my 50 things.
I am not looking forward to Tuesday, when Tony goes back to work.
I know I needed to do the trip. I wanted to do the trip. Spending time with both our families was great, even if one trip had been cut very short and the other was under very stressful circumstances. But it just feels like all the good habits we’ve built up with Arddun have been too easily unravelled, and it’s hard not to think about it and feel a bit sick.