Q&A: The one where I feel like a shitty parent

Alisha (who clearly needs her own podcast, just for her email subject alone) writes:

Is there some fussy-farting-limits-testing-booshity thing that happensaround the 7 month mark? Because the boy and I have been going ten rounds lately and he's kicking my parental ass. I don't know if it's the teething (it looks like his bottom eye teeth are coming in. I thought the top ones came before the sides?) or some sort of developmental thing (he's 32 weeks but he was 2 weeks late so developmentally that's 34 weeks? He's starting to sit unassisted for a few seconds and crawling is imminent, although I've been saying that for weeks) or if I'm just being punished for being smug, but my son is back to non-sleeping. It started a few days ago - a little extra rocking here, another round of Lullabye there. Small stuff that was easy to dismiss. Clearly a month of cushy snoozing (five minutes of rocking and he was out until 5 am; easy breezy naps) made us soft. Now he's taking forever to settle and once he is asleep it doesn't last. The minute his head hits the mattress he flips onto his back, grabs his blankie, and shoots us a self-satisfied grin.


That's what the grin says, I swear it. You can practically count the exclamation points in his eyes. Lather, rinse, repeat (two to four more times) and you've got yourself one pissed off mama.

It's the joy - the exalation! - that makes me so crazy. It feels like a giant F- you to my parenting skills. We did CIO at 4.5 months and after 16 miserable, worthless days ended up with a baby who was terrified to go to sleep. Then we instigated a rock/jiggle/hum routine that worked wonders - until now. I've tried leaving him to cry again which sends him to Shitsville in a large, wailing basket. I've said fuck it and gotten him up which leads to a grouchy, bleary eyed babe and a difficult day. According to the books (here we go...) he'll nap better if he sleeps longer at night so I should ignore him until 6 am. (Actually they say he should be sleeping until 6 am which makes me want to punch them in the nose.) There's no way: his diaper is practically deteriorating by 4:30 (the outside actually squishes, it's so full) and I defy anyone to get a baby back to sleep after an early morning wipe down.

I'm trying to convince myself that this is just a phase (maybe he's transitioning from 3 naps to 2?) but there's an awful lot of You're Not The Boss Of Me happening lately, which is great developmentally but panty-twisting, mommy-wise. (We've introduced solids and he's starting to refuse the bottle. Sure, the nipple is good for chewin' and have you ever just opened your mouth and let the liquid spill out all over yourself? Apparently it's awesome. Awesome enough to do over and over and over and over.)

Excuse me while I take a moment.

Is this crap normal?

Oh, this sucks. I'm so sorry, although your email was super-funny and I thank you for that.

It sounds like a whole bunch of developmental, movement, and teething stuff all combined into a big ball of suck, plus the 37-week wonder week. Also, it sounds like your son may be really smart, and that's leading him to testing his independence a little bit earlier than usual. (Just like in that movie with L.L. Cool J in which they're training the sharks and then the sharks get smarter than the human are and attack.) It's tough with the smart kids, because lots of times they don't sleep as much or as well as the norm, and they get frustrated when they're aware of things but can't make their needs or will known.

At this age, he's probably too young even for sign language (you could start with the signs and he might understand at this point but probably doesn't have the physical skills to make them himself yet). And sign language likely won't help with the sleep. But talking him through every single thing that's going on all day might. Verbalizing feelings for him, like saying "You're angry!" when he's clearly mad, and stuff like that. I know people think a 7-month-old is too young to communicate, but their receptive language kids in so early, and you might as well err on the side of attributing more maturity to your kid than less.

But back to the main point, which is that the books are full of crap. OK, not necessarily pure crap, but the stuff in those books works for a certain subset of kids. And it's not working for your son, so for your purposes, the books are crap.

If it makes you feel any better, I got 6 emails since Wednesday about naps, so there's something going around. And there isn't anything in your email that's jumping out at me as obvious that you could fix. If you've checked the usual things (propping the head of the crib, cutting out solid for a few hours before bed in case it's indigestion, temperature check noises check, etc.), then it's just time to open it up to sympathy. You're doing a great job.

Readers, it's Friday. And yet none of us will have a weekend because our kids will be up at the same freaking time as usual on Saturday morning. Sympathy for Alisha, primal scream for yourself, or pie recipes all appreciated in the comments.