Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baby Bird Needs to get out of the Nest

     Since day one, my little one always wanted me very close.  I have basically always been at her beck and call.  Of course it's something I was forewarned about,  "Put your baby down," "Let her cry," "She'll learn."  She came with me everywhere I went when she was very small.  Our first home was an apartment on the third floor and I used to carry the baby and the large stroller and let the dog run ahead of us when it was walk time.  Down the stairs we would go and then back up again - thank God I had the energy when I was 26-years-old.  When she was big enough, I left the stroller behind and put baby hang around in the Snugly.  She was content with her little soother in her mouth and the dog happily in tow.  We've always been quite the team.  I have to say, my dog Finnegan, who is ten and a half years old now has had to learn a lot of patience over the years and he has learned to always stand back and let Emily be taken care of first.  He loves his walks though.  Our walks are a freedom time for both of us.  Now that Emily is eight and a half years old and his walks usually don't happen until after she's been taken to school in the morning.  She is a bit more stubborn about getting out for walks now, and to her it is sometimes a real chore to take him out.  She doesn't remember how understanding Finnegan always was to her wants and needs.  So I believe she needs to give back a bit to him.  When I can get her out the door our walks are fun.  It is a nice bonding time where she opens up and chatters away skipping and taking in the fresh air. 
     Co-sleeping began very early on.  I was so tired.  Nursing approximately 20 times a day-at least.  And then I would take her upstairs to her nursery at night to rock her in the chair, play some Baby Mozart Cd's and get her to sleep.  I don't think I could ever get past putting her in the crib before she was asleep.  Once she was well into a slumber of sugar-plum fairies and resting like a beautiful sleeping baby in my arms, only then could I attempt to place her in the crib.  Then POOF-her eyes would jet open and she'd look at me like, "Where are you going? I hope your not leaving me here, cause that's not going to happen."  So I would pick her back out and bring her back to our rocking chair and start over, rocking and nursing.  Anyone who has ever nursed a baby can relate when I say I would begin to feel as though I was being pumped with Valium and I would drift off into a slumber, never to return downstairs in the evening to finish a movie that her dad had started watching without me.  I would awaken in the middle of the night and by that point the little one is literally hanging off of me and I'm still holding on but my neck would be cranked and so sore.  Only then would she be in a deep enough sleep for me to place her in her quarters and I could sneak into my own bed for a few hours until she would call again like a mad little cat who didn't want to be alone.
     It only took a few months of the unrest full nights, before I realized I needed to get some sleep.  My bed was so much more inviting than the rocking chair, and her dad fell asleep on the couch just about every night watching the T.V.  So the bed would be empty all night most times.  So I started to bring my little baby into my bed, adjusting the pillows in a very safe manner.  At that point finally I was able to rest and even though some friends would say it wasn't safe to let a small baby in your bed because she could be smothered, I knew she was safer there than hanging off me in the rocking chair. 
     Eventually she got big enough to kick, and apparently it made it very uncomfortable for her dad in the bed and he eventually moved into another bedroom.  I would still try to get her to bed at night in her own bed, and still do, but every night she would call or jump and now walk with pillow and blanket in hand and make her way in with her little pack, because of course, Finnegan was there as well.  Even though I am an only parent now-and dad has been gone for several years, my bedroom far from a lonely place.  When I wake up in the morning I have my daughter snogging away beside me, my dog at my feet and a cat or two staring me down, purring loudly, waiting for me to get my lazy but out of bed to feed them.  I have grown accustomed to this routine that is into it's ninth year now.  Quite honestly though, I have never slept better in my life than I do now, now that I accepted and caved allowing my nest to be open to the whole "fam damily" just so I can have a full night's sleep.  However, I probably wouldn't have been this lenient about it if I had had a partner to share my bed with.  
     So what do I do?  I have offered to switch bedrooms with my daughter saying that she may actually sleep better I my room and if that is the case I could switch her bed to my room and she can have the room.  But, I'm wondering if all that work would end up with her back in my bed- because I am sure it would. Or I could do as the doctor suggested would happen and just give her my bed and all and maybe just get myself a new bed, that may be helpful at this point in the game.  But, I think what it comes down to is that if I want my little one to stop coming in my room by the time she is a pre teen- then it looks like I am going to have to get tough and maybe still have to go back to the sleepless nights and actually get out of bed and take her back to her room whether she likes it or not.  I have to get tougher about this because recently after having this epiphany of how long this has been going on- I realize that there are other things coming into play.  She has me at her beck and call still.  We spend so much time together and I have caved so many times that she probably feels she is in charge.   The fact that it is just the two of us and she is an only child, she gets away with it.  But now I'm certain that I have to help her grow out of it as it is going to fall on my head and really it's no body's fault but mine.  The mother guilt will kill me if she is 20-years-old and insomnia is setting in because her mother never taught her how to get to sleep.  Then, there will be psychiatrist appointments and sleep therapy.... So I will make this my duty- my mission, my focus- that the nest needs to be swept clear.  To make room for myself and a brighter future for her.  As independent as my little chic is the sleep issue has to change.  I have to get more strict about this and be ready for the rebuttals-  Maybe I should drink a coffee before her bedtime so I can do this.  Give me a month and we will see how far I've gotten.  I will try not to be too hard on myself- but really I do recommend parents to teach your baby's to sleep in their cribs when they are new born unless you want to go through a life of kids knocking down the door every time they cannot sleep for the rest of your life.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Juggling Margarita's and Children and Men

   January is well underway and it's a given in the restaurant business that it's the most dismal time of the year. Tourism is down and most people are sticking closer to home- Simple as that. You basically have to prepare yourself for the dead days of winter -long ahead of time because anyone in the biz who lives on tips and such should know you aint gonna be makin much in January and February!-and you may as well not complain about it because it's just life.
   So far, after surviving the first week of the quiet time- I would say I've dived right into the slower pace.  It's a much needed break for me. It's a time to look around and clean and see what needs to be done.  I leave Saturday shifts to the younger staff-because even though you make more money working on weekends, to me, I would rather be spending that precious time with my daughter and avoiding any sort of public place-or dining establishment. 
   Don't get me wrong.  I actually do like interacting with people.  I am a people person and usually after having a day or two off I'm ready to get back at it.  But for myself, as a server I need a break after five shifts of it, whether it's busy or dead.  It doesn't take too many needy people dining out to burn a server out -or drive you to the point of being totally "peopled out".  Maybe if I worked on weekends and did my writing through the week- that would be a good balance.  It is an avenue I may consider-but for now I do it like this because the needs of my child far out weigh the needs of hungry high-end adults, in my view.
   On one of these dull January days, I was at the restaurant where I work, Zest Bar and Bistro in Port Hope, Ontario.  We had had a few people in for lunch, but were about to get ready to close her down for the day at 3 PM.  I usually get off around this time anyway, but these men came in and I didn't feel like turning them away because a patron will never be too friendly if you tell them "No," and they never seem to understand why we close early.  You don't want to tell a customer that it's not worth staying open for one table who sits for three hours 'cause it's not enough money to cover the whole costs of running the place for the extra time.
   So now I have about four gents sitting at the bar, which is rare for a Wednesday afternoon.  But the two late arrivals came in looking for some cocktails.  So I put my apron back on - and get behind the bar- as my co-worker is not as comfortable in the drink making department.  "What are you feeling like?" I ask.. "martini's, vodka and soda?..."  No they wanted Margarita's.  Which perked up the other mans' taste buds- who is dreaming of Mexico, two seats down.  So I mix up the first two cocktails.
  Chill the glasses, drop some ice in my martini shakers and away I go with some Sauza tequila, Triple Sec, freshly squished lime juice, a dash of salt and finish it off with some San Palegrino Limonata.  Delicious!
  The two men are enjoying the first sips- when the Mexico bound guy breaks and says- "I'll have one of those too, but can you crush the ice?" Sure- no problem.  I'm looking at the clock now.  Good I still have a half-hour before I have to meet my daughter at the bus stop.  No sooner am I finished making the third drink than those guys order some calamari and another round of Margarita's.  The big guy gets on the phone to his brother and invites him down for "the best Margarita in town"....he's getting rather obnoxious now... I lightly mention to him the bar won't be open for much longer but that I'll be happy to mix a few more drinks.  The chefs are ready to go.  Great! no way are we going to get out of here on time now.  But that's OK- thank goodness - my daughter's school bus stop is less than a five minute walk from work.
   So two more for the guys, then one for his brother.  Now I'm telling my co-worker- "o.k I'm going to have to run down to the bus stop, but I'll be back in 10 minutes.- just as I'm about to step outside, Mexico bound guy- invites the lady who owns the flower shop across the street to come over for one and he wants me to make him one before I go- that's where I say, "No, I can't.  You will have to wait until I get back. K?"  This little party happened quickly and it was fun (mixing drinks and making money) however- I wasn't really up for it at this point on a Wednesday afternoon- and we were staying open for them so I needed the time to go get my child.  So I walk quickly to the bus-stop and still have enough time to burn it to my house (across the street) and grab my girls' iPod touch, something to keep her occupied while she comes to work with me so I can close this party down. 
   So, we get back to Zest-My eight-year-old not too happy that she has to drag along with me.  The two men and the brother sitting comfortably at the couch- seem to be fairly content with their tequila fill. They will surely be ready for the bill soon.  Flower shop lady and Mexico bound guy don't mind that my daughter is sitting at the bar...waiting. They enjoy their "last drink" because they know this is going to be it. 
Kids really do not enjoy having to go to work with their parents.  But it's not too often that I'm not done when I'm supposed to be.  I feel very fortunate in the small town that I live in that a clientele as classy as they are- do not bat an eye that I would make them wait for another drink because I have to go get my child- even though it is a quiet time of the season and it was the last excitement of Zest for the day it went out as fast as it began. 
I never got to mention however, that the other guy sitting at the bar was in for a cup of coffee,  which he ordered because he had planned to come in and have a visit with me that day.  However, even though I thought I might be able to sit and chat with him when I saw him pull in, the two Margarita guys came in right after him- so that was it.  What are the chances?