M’s finally down for a nap and I should be catching up on the ever-growing pile of sewing, mopping a floor or two or sorting through the clothes M’s once more outgrown. Instead, I’m sitting here with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s (cookie dough, for the record) and wondering is it me, or is it them?
We’re trying to get M sleeping properly. Somehow we ended up at the point where he would only fall asleep on one of us, and after 1am would only sleep in our bed. For a million reasons that’s not cutting it, so we’re trying a new routine. I’ve gone with EASY: Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your Time. The idea is that in, at 10 months, M should be able to stick to a four-hourly schedule based on the above routine. I’m letting his old body-clock lead the routine, but am trying to guide him through the structure. We’re on day three and things have improved somewhat today, but I can’t get yesterday out of my mind.
The morning nap took 45minutes to get him down – 30minutes less than the first time I tried the day before. In those 45 minutes, he shouted for maybe 20 of them. I say shouted, because that’s what it is..he’s not distressed, he’s not crying. I held him until he was dropping, then placed him in his cot, kept my hand on his back and sat by his bed. White noise was turned to low and I spoke reassuring words. He instantly started to shout. After 5 minutes, I’d pick him up, reiterate that I loved him, gave him a kiss and placed him back in the bed. IT worked, eventually, but that doesn’t mean it was easy..for him, nor for me! And to top it all, while M was screaming in the room, the neighbours less than impressed conversation floated down to mingle with the sound. I kept my cool, M napped and we got on with the day. Naptime two rolled round, and the same routine again – kiss him, love him, into his cot, shouting starts. 40 minutes in —JUST as his eyes started to close—the doorbell rang.
And it rang not once, but twice. Followed by banging on the door. When I answered, the landlady had her feet already out of her shoes and had I not somehow managed to keep my wits about me and put my hand between the door and the wall, she’d have been inside in a flash. “Yes?” I said, trying hard not to be impolite. “Why’s he crying?” she asked. “He’s not”, said I. “He’s shouting because he doesn’t want to go down to sleep but he’s fine, there’s no problem. I’m sorry if he disturbed you.” I expected her to turn round and leave, but she didn’t; instead she tried to PUSH PAST MY ARM! into my flat! Excuse me?! Gently, I laid a hand on her arm, repeated my apology for having caused any disturbance and slowly shut closed the door. Inside, M was looking at me from his perch in his cot, wide-eyed with a grin: I won this nap, Mum.
Fuming doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. I was livid. How dare she try to barge into our home? What right has she to intervene?
Then I calmed down a bit and looked from her point of view – she’s allowed to just come interfere. In Turkish culture, everyone submits to the elders. What they say simply goes. Were I her daughter-in-law, I wouldn’t stand a chance..she’d be within her ‘rights’ to come tell me I’m raising M wrong.
Then I came back to my side, and I’m not her daughter-in-law. We’re not related at all. She has no right to show such disrespect.
I’ve grumbled before, numerous times, about how shoddily built this apartment is, how we can hear when our neighbours take baths, how its a family apartment and they forget we pay rent…this is an extension of all of those things. she’s not trying to be rude – I do know that – but she is invading my space. The way I raise my baby is of no concern to them.
G says to ignore it – we’re flat hunting anyway. But he’s not here in the day. He doesn’t hear the groans and exclamations spoken three times too loud, for my benefit. He doesn’t hear the stomping of people up and down the stairs (daughter-in-laws to mother-in-laws) with the stops to sigh outside our door. He’s not here.
I am. I’m here and I’m the one who has to deal with it. So, I’m taking it head on and giving it my best Turkish woman impression. Cheesecake is baking (one for them, one for me if I survive) and once M wakes, we’re going to go drop it off, apologise once again, explain that we’re sleep training and that it will take a few more days. I’ll explain why we’re training in the day not at night and just pray they understand. Yes, we’re leaving inshallah, but until then we’re here and I can’t cope with animosity – nor especially thinly veiled condemnation or criticism of my parenting style.
Is my perception off base?