Monday, May 28, 2012

You Know You're a [Military] Mom Monday: Memorial Day Special

Today's You Know You're a Mom comes to us from Ingrid Cribbs, the wife of a Naval officer, Michael, and the mother of 15-month old Anna, the strawberry-haired, playful, opinionated, [slightly] dramatic rendition of both Michael and Ingrid. No really, she looks exactly like both of them.

Can you see the resemblance of both parents? Not yet? Well, keep looking.

Can you see it now? Oh man. So darn cute.

Ingrid is on deck today as our You Know You're a Mom because here on Memorial Day, and every day, I want to honor not only our service members who sacrifice their lives in so many ways, but also their families who tirelessly adjust and create new lives around themselves wherever they go. Ingrid and Anna make unique sacrifices to their lives when Michael is out on a deployment, and she often does not hear anything from him at all for weeks or months. What an incredible life to live, don't you think? Requires such courage. I text her every so often and just tell her how brave she is because that's really all I can say. Because it's true. 

A little history: Ingrid and I have been friends since college. We ended up in nearly all the same predicaments at almost the same time, including an internship that led us into youth ministry, together. This was a year of unprecedented wackiness, and I'm so thankful we had each other for sidekicks during this roller coaster. Ingrid married the man of her dreams a few months after I married mine, and when my little John was only 3 months old, Miss Anna came on the scene. So our history of doing major life transitions right next to each other remains pretty consistent. And it's made our friendship that much more fun.

Ings and I at her wedding. 

Ings and I in LBDs: she's 5 months and I'm 8 months here, early October 2010.

Since her marriage, Ingrid has lived in various cities and states around the U.S., adjusting to the military lifestyle with grace, creativity and the usual joie de vivre we expect from her. Ingrid adds fun and life to every situation she's in, and I wish I could spend real-time with her and her daughter, Anna, as they grow up together.

Ingrid and Anna, doing some girl time.
And now, without further ado, here's Installment #8: Ingrid's You Know You're a Mom moment, Military-Mom style: 
You know you’re a military mom when you’re walking out of the gym and staff members you’ve never seen before are calling your daughter by name and she looks back at them like she knows them.
I’ll explain.  I married an amazing Naval officer who has no ordinary Navy job.  He is one of the few nuclear submarine officers who serves aboard the USS Alabama.  The U.S. submarines are our country’s silent protectors that are secretly scattered all over the waters waiting for the orders to strike.   
What does this have to do with the gym?  Well because of his job he spends up to 16 hour days being trained or leading others to effectively do their job.  Then they deploy for months and no one knows where they go.  We have limited contact with them and go on with our lives.  This drove me crazy until I joined the YMCA when Anna was younger because they have childcare.  It doesn’t come cheap, but to have that 1.5 hour break to exercise has worked wonders.  So we go almost every day even when working out is the last thing I want to do or have the energy to do.  We go because I know I will have a break and my daughter loves it.  Apparently they love her too.  I mean they see her almost every day! 
What I love about military kids is that everyone knows them and loves them so dearly. 

Ingrid, this is awesome. Thanks for sharing a glimpse, and we know it's only a glimpse, into your life as military mom. I'm glad your daughter is so loved. Thank you so much for your sacrifices that you make, alongside Anna and Michael. Thank you for loving your husband so much that you'll follow him anywhere, and for caring about and investing in our nation and it's people, and folks like little old me. You're a great friend, and I know you're adaptable, fun-loving personality make this adventure possible. I'm proud to call you my friend.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours. Hug a military service member and his or her family today. Tell them how thankful you are for all they for us, out front and behind the scenes. We are a grateful nation.

{And don't forget: send your You Know You're a Mom moments to}

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Door and The Window Theory

When I don’t get what I want, I can count on a nice church lady to fold her hands and remind me in a whispery voice, “When God closes a door, he always opens a window.” Grrr. I hate that saying. First of all, how am I supposed to walk through a window? I have to get a leg up and climb. And how many stories up is this window anyway? Sounds risky. If you’re going to close the door in my face, opening a window is not an equal substitute. Maybe it’s a sweet proverb, but it does nothing to assuage genuine disappointment. And I’m pretty sure Solomon didn’t come up with that one.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons: Library of Congress Photostream

Recently the door I was knocking on closed. Or maybe it just never opened. It was as good as open in my mind, and I made the necessary emotional accommodations to leave one career and take on another, one in Public Relations. It was going to be a big step, the kind where you hike up your knickers, plunge in some rapidly-moving, very cold water, and maybe hold your breath for a minute or two. But I was ready for it. Game face on.

Then Slam.

To be truthful, I knew the career change was a stretch. But I had a cheering section comprised of my mom, dad, and a few friends. Myers-Briggs was very encouraging; the ENFP profile said I was a perfect fit. But technically I didn’t have any experience, no real qualifications except for all the writing and smiling and talking I do on a regular basis.

But I had gotten bored in my current line of work. I was frustrated that my life was one big problem-solving session:

Line up.
Okay, what’s your problem?
Oh yes, that’s very difficult.
Okay, here’s how to fix it.

Empathy Schmempathy. I’ve been doing this since junior high. It’s time for a break, I thought to myself in a tiny cabin outside of Manhattan. Please, I need an open door. Something new. I called a friend, and then, an opportunity. In PR. A door, cracked but open, ever so slightly. As part of the application process, I received a writing assignment that felt a little like stringing Ulysses’ bow, but I wasn’t Ulysses. Nevertheless, I put the horse blinders on, slung back some extra espresso, and I pulled that bow until my little hand hurt. Ten hours later, I turned in a decent piece of writing. Now to just make it to the second interview, then they could meet my shiny face and see how charismatic I am, and then they’ll throw all their money on the pixie-haired brunette from the small town.

The dreams were big. The waiting moments were long. I wrestled, hoped, resigned, and wrestled more. I knew I needed change. This had to be it. And then the answer came. The sound of a door clicking shut. I sucked in my gut and took it like a woman, but later on, the cloud of disappointment blew over and rained on my head. I was soaked.

I don’t see a door or a window right now, God. I left my old job emotionally, and now I will still be here. Will still go to work and convince people to feel hopeful and happy when I don’t really feel that way myself.

But pain asks hard questions, and it’s in the agony that we can really answer them. The question: What do I really want to do with my life? I bravely squeaked, “Write.” Well, PR job or none, writing I can still do. I can still blog. I can still share these thinking in our writers group, The Inkwell. I can submit my best work for publication. I can still write.

After a night of tears and prayers offered up by the one who wasn’t crying – that would be Josh – I slept and woke up, made coffee and went to work. Like any other day. And I helped some sad people with messy lives and I sat on the edge of my seat, leaned in and heard them. I got involved again. But I still wanted to write. Still wanted to open a door of new.

I took a late lunch, but at least I got one. Standing by the office window for reception, I opened my email and saw this.

Your submission.

I sent this in a month ago, before the door that just closed had opened at all. I stopped hoping for this door, small as it might be. But here it was. It’s not a book getting published, but it’s one of my pieces. And by a group of recognized, gifted writers, the Burnside Writers Collective, people who take their work seriously. And now they’re taking me seriously.


I’m not a published author yet. But this is a step in the right direction. A back pat for my faithfulness, or maybe like a bowl of ice cream after a break up. Either way, it feels good, God. So thanks. I’ll take it. Feeling a little better already.

Maybe another door will open soon, my Hope chimes hopefully. But not a window. Please don’t open a window.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

History is Something

I've had the Lazies the past week so you'll have to forgive me. Well, it wasn't quite Lazies because, in another area of life, I was working in full speed ahead. Just in another direction. Took all my time. So maybe it was a case of the Distracties. Anyway, back again with this writing thing. 

Tonight I resumed a bad habit I've never quite been able to lay to rest: taking pictures of myself on my cell phone and sometimes, sending them to my friends. I would say "Don't judge me", but why bother? It's already happened. But at least let me explain myself. I adore this activity because of the nearly endless hilarity that ensues...for me. Contorting my face into ridiculous distortions and then writing wacky captions for them is all the entertainment I need for a Friday night where the husband opted for a book. Especially when I get to imagine how much joy I've brought to someone's life when my lovely mug shows up in their inbox. "You're welcome, everybody."

Taking pictures of myself has history though. As in, it wasn't just my idea. Two of my very good friends have cried and nearly peed ourselves with giggles, quickly shooting digital portraits of our silly mugs, flipping the camera around to see the results, laughing hysterically, and then assigning our faces another emotion or expression and capturing that, one after the other. First it was Jen in Kansas City, and then a few years later Danielle, in Lawrence. 

Exhibit A:
Caption to Jen: "Just got my first Botox injection. Looking good but I just can't feel my face."

My too-much-time-on-her-hands photo shoot yielded at least a few smiles for me, but got me thinking more about the history of friendships, mine to be exact. I've got these incredible, deep-down cement friendships with Jazzy, since age 12, and Rachel, since 15, Jen since 17, Ica since 18, and a handful of others I've met or reconnected with since then: Ingrid, Danielle, Michelle, Jessica. For most of these women, we were together before boys, after boys, dreaming up husbands and then watching them materialize. {poof} They were in my wedding. I was in theirs. 

Some time in there, the huddle moved outward, south, east, far east in some cases (Ica), or a wee bit west in mine. Anyway, the proximity was less proximal and therefore, the interaction was less frequent.

So much time goes by between face to face these days, weeks, months, even years. There are hundreds of ways to connect - phone, text, Skype, email, facebook - but none of them come close to heads together, hugs, and hysterical laughing fits around coffee or martinis. Those moments, once so frequent, are few but so precious now. 

And when we're together, we can't help but remember those days, those nights, the slumber parties, the roommate tales, the stories that I tell one way but she tells another. The night none of us slept when the three of us, Rachel, Ica and I, slept width-wise on the bed and I woke up whining and groaning because I was so frustrated and miserable. They still mock me for this one. And rightfully so - I was just so pathetic.

Or the time Danielle and I tested out how "done" the muffins were by throwing them against the wall like noodles to see if they would stick. 

Or the time Jen and I were on vacation in Colorado and we took pictures of ourselves in front of a mountain scene but when we developed the pictures, the scene behind us was black and we were just sitting there smiling like idiots in front of blackness. We couldn't handle how hilarious this was, cry-laughing in the grocery store one-hour photo lobby. 

Or when Jazzy and Trotta and I were barely driving legal, only 17, and we went to St. Louis in the middle of the night and had only 9 hours to get there and back and we got a terrible speeding ticket and almost died when one of us feel asleep at the wheel and we had to take all our pictures at 4am in the dark. And then we all had to tell our parents about it when my conscience caved and everybody got in trouble.

And there's so much more - it's all just so good. All this history. All this time.

It makes the big long space between the hugs and martinis and side-hurting laughter a little easier. It's like a giant fast-forward button for the times when we are together again, like we can somehow just press un-pause and start right where we stopped. We use the words and faces on screens and phone calls to fill in the details, but the good stuff happens in real time, although for these girls, I will take what I can get. 

It was really hard for a long time to even think about making new friends, to imagine that there might be any room left over for more deep love and crazy laughter and sleepovers. That the days with new friends would once again add up to months and years, and that these wild stories that were once only about me, would now involve my kids and theirs. But out here in this little college town, I was more alone than I wanted to be, and I had to let the guard back down. And now I have new friends who I take pictures with, and our kids give each other kisses and hugs, learn to walk and talk together, and one of those toddlers might even call me "Mom", in addition to his own mother. (And he's not John.) It's been wild, learning that my heart does in fact expand, and that love is one of those things we don't run out of, that it does this exponential growth thing instead.

But either way, I'm only 30 years into life so for the women who were girls with me way back then, who have been around for over half of these years, there's no way to replace this history. The deepness of knowing exactly where she's coming from, that I know her old address and she knows my mother's maiden name, and we were both grounded for smoking or speeding or whatever but at least it was together. And she knows what the boys called me when I was 13... to have someone understand what you want to say just because you've been here before, a few years ago, to be so known and so loved - I'll never trade this good-good stuff. And I'm glad I don't have to, that love adds and doesn't subtract. Maybe that's the best stuff. 

A few of the "old" friends through the (recent) ages:

One of those times when I traveled a few hours south to get some face to face with Jen.

Danielle and I will probably always have bad boundaries with noses.

At my before-baby party. Minus but thinking of Ica and missing her badly.

Ica, Rachel and I like hiding behind things. It's a long-standing tradition. Foliage is our favorite.

Ings and I, looking fab, rocking LBDs and babies in wombs.

Ica's Bachelorette party with the IRS.

And somehow, the husbands came along too. One by one by one. Which is good, since polygamy is outlawed in the United States.

Husbands who know how to dance.

Husbands who know how to humor their wives with dry wit and - even - getting along with each other.

And Jazzy, on her happy day last year. What a good day. (Also happened to be the day before I went pixie hair.)

I love you all, new friends and old ones. May the years keep adding up for us all.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Day a Mother Was Born

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new."

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

On November 15, 2010, at 12:51am, two people were born: a child named John and a mother named Sarah. This Mother’s Day, we are both almost 18 months old, doing a few things well and most things clumsily. 

I think it was almost yesterday when we went home together, both needing somehow to be carried. It was just a few days ago, it seems, that we both cried and cried in the middle of the night when one of us could not sleep, and so we were both awake. 

I am fairly certain we just started this life only yesterday, two fresh, new people in the world with no ability to communicate our feelings, who could only whine and eat and sleep all day. Not knowing how to do anything that we very much needed to do now.

That dark morning we both burst onto the scene, one of us a baby, one a mother. And suddenly those things that were mine before I was born became somebody else's, just like that.  

{A few of our first moments growing up together: he was asleep for most of it.}

These hands, my own hands for so many years, now belonged to someone else. Hands that flipped buttons on a remote or cupped coffee cups in wee morning hours now flipped bottoms out of soiled diapers and cupped bottles fresh from the warmer. 

Shoulders that had it easy all their lives now supported plush, rosy cheeks, attached to a baby who is fresh from his nap or a spill on the ground. 

Arms that gave hugs to many or swished carefree by my side now lift and scoop and sway and rock, but only for a precious one or two. 

Feet that tilted up horizontal, kicked back on the coffee table for hours or tucked beneath me criss-cross now bring me back and forth, back and forth from one bedroom to another, pacing up and down the hall to comfort, running to divert disaster in the kitchen, now in the bathroom, now in the yard.

Eyes that looked just about wherever they wanted, now notice when things are a bit strange, when blond curlys are making their way across tabletops, when tiny feet are too too close to the edge of something, or when patting is about to becoming hitting which will soon become crying. And these eyes, that once cried only for themselves, now welled up and overflowed at new things, at tiny smiles and sighs, burbles and giggles and chatty sounds. All so precious.

The babies looking at each other, one of us already in love love.

And ears that once tuned out the world with the rhythms of song and conversation now hear everything at once, even the sounds of silence, and interpret the bangings, the quiet, and all of the rest with such accuracy these ears may as well be, yes, a second set of eyes. And these ears now strain in the mornings to hear a baby, having a sweet conversation with himself, and the sounds fill the heart right up and over. And there's nothing to do but just soak it all in.

A planner once scratched full of meetings and face-to-faces emptied out for good the day that time stopped and started over. And then the planner simply said “Maternity leave”, with no scribbled-in appointments in the hours and days in between. A wide-open space for two babies to get to know each other. A baby human and a baby mother, both learning how to cry and breathe and eat, learning to ask for help when we both thought we were self-sufficient just a few days prior.  

Yes, we are still new at this. Still both amateurs at being human and mother. So much more to discover, to see, to understand. Our eyes are wide open. We are both curious. We still cry. But now we give more hugs. There is more giggling and fewer tears. And we are learning, learning, learning. But we do it together.

{Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mothers, no matter how old you are in Mom years. Thank you for taking the learning road with me, and welcoming to this universal thing called Motherhood. Thank you for all your weeks, months and years of devotion and sacrifice and scared love you pour out. Today I know how much you give up to do what you do. So I thank you, with all my mom love.}

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finally, a use for Patience

I’ve thoroughly disliked Patience for a long time. We've simply not had much in common. The main reason for this that I can tell is that I am not patient. And Patience is.

While Patience can sit nicely at the stoplight, I am quickly turning right to avoid it, zipping through a parking lot in hopes of conserving 10 seconds. And to avoid sitting still. It’s called efficiency. Trust me.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

While Patience can listen to the same story from the same person for the third time this month, I laugh and say, “Oh yea, you told me about that one.” Just helping them save face, you know.

I remember distinctly becoming infuriated at this so-called virtue, this slow, meandering lifestyle where one is never in a rush, never so passionate about something that one must completely by-pass all conversations and shout at slow, simple drivers in an effort to be somewhere, somewhere else. What use is there for Patience if I cannot get what I want, is more or less the thought that I thought that day. And that was pretty much my attitude about the whole thing.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not Type A. I am not terribly goal-oriented, not in an aggressive sense anyway. I can actually sit on my couch doing absolutely nothing but thinking and looking around at nature from the living room window. And I feel great about it. I can do this for about 30 minutes or so until guilt sinks in or I begin to wonder about hits on my blog. But when I want something, when something just needs to happen, look out world.

This week I’ve decided to intentionally and aggressively target my worst enemy, the arch-nemesis of my entire existence: anxiety. Until my early twenties, I had no idea that I was walking around with the symptoms of a very nasty case of anxiety: the ever-present pit in the middle of my stomach, the surge of adrenaline in social situations, the feeling that there is something very invisible and very heavy laying on my chest when I wake up in the morning. All the signs, and yet all the signature oblivion of someone who is not ready to deal with her junk.

Over the years, with prayer and counseling and lots of other stuff that required tears and looking into the inner depths, I’ve gotten significant relief from this monster. And yet it looms, making decisions for me, motivating awkwardly rushed conversations as I panic about how I should be somewhere that I’m not. Being a people person does not help. I feel every conversation is important; learning to prioritize them has been a true miracle.

But one night recently, in the throes of developing my latest attack strategy on anxiety, something occurred to me. Anxiety is often motivated by impatience. And impatience is motivated by selfishness.

Stop everything.

It’s true. Impatience is often selfishness. It’s my own agenda that I’m putting before everyone else’s. It has put me in situations where, for example, I wait until the last minute to do something out of prioritizing a more desirable activity, and suddenly I am forced to rush. The hurrying brings inevitable fear, and a heightened irritability at anything or anyone that gets in my way. In anxiety, there is no room for error. No room for slow traffic or a person who needs to talk. Just get out of my way - I got somewhere to be. So selfishness equals impatience which somehow – I don’t understand emotion math – results in anxiety. 

So there you have it, my latest ah-ha moment. Patience and I are discussing the terms of our relatively new friendship. I am actively working to think and move more slowly, to give myself more time when taking on a task, to recognize when I am starting to feel anxious and adjust my breath and my approach to the situation. I may not be a master of my environment, but I can be a master of myself. Everyone knows this, but it takes so much discipline to live this way. It takes Patience.

The best part about this new friendship, though, is that I very much like my patient, slow self. I like the speed of my thoughts and the pace of my life. I like the fact that I can actually give people the invaluable experience of being heard. And after all, being heard is what we all want. So Patience and I, although I am quite clumsy, are now walking together. You should see the fruit of this when you talk to me and hopefully in other relevant situations. If you don't, please point it out. And if you do, I will try to slow down and, patiently, hear you. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

You Know You're a Mom Monday

Sarah and her #2, Gigi
This week we hear from our most experienced mom yet, Sarah Madgwick, a mom of three - and almost four - with somewhere around 11 or 12 (combined) years of mommyhood wisdom.  Sarah and I know each other from church, and even though our children haven't spent considerable time together (yet), I always enjoy listening to her frank take on marriage, parenting and "Churchianity". Sarah tells it like it is, which instantly instills trust, sometimes inspires laughter, and ensures you'll never wonder where you stand with her. A full-time, stay-at-home mum, she's got all the creative genius you hope you'll have when you have this much parenting under your belt. For example, just from watching her, I learned how to wipe a snotty nose and trick your kid into thinking you're just playing a little game with them. (She may not even remember this, but I do, and now John can tolerate having his little sniffler wiped down every so often.)

Sarah blogs regularly at In The Mix, where you can check out her family happenings, hear the insides of her brain and see pictures of her littles, who are adorable, of course. 

The Madgwick family, before there was three.
And then there were three.

Good parenting = kids who actually like each other most of the time, right? :) 

I have clever, crafty, creative friends who could show me at a 4-H show any day. But I'm okay with this since we're not actually in competition. Here's one of the quilts Sarah made for one of her kiddos. I really have no idea how she has time for this sort of thing after she's done keeping house and keeping up three littles. But alas, somehow she manages. This quilt here happens to be my favorite. I love all the whimsical fabrics she chose. Does she sell them? I don't know. You should ask her. Stop by her blog to see. 

Lovely, isn't it? 

So without further ado, here's installment #7 of You Know You're a Mom, served up fresh and sassy from Sarah Madgwick:

You know you're a mom when things come out of your mouth that would never otherwise come out in normal adult conversation, things you would be mortified to have to ask/say to another human being over the age of 10.  Here are a few gems that make their way into regular conversation with my kids on a regular basis:

"No, toilets are not play things."
"Your penis is, in fact, attached to your body.  You do not need to check every 5 minutes to make sure it hasn't left you."  
"No, mommy doesn't need a helper while I use the toilet. Thank you for your concern."
"Strictly speaking, candy for breakfast isn't generally a good thing."
Uh oh.
"Please stop squishing your baby sister.  I know she's laughing but things can go quickly wrong in this scenario." 
"Show me what is in your mouth."

"The table is for eating on, not sitting on." 
"Are you poopy?" 
"Do you need to go to the bathroom?"  
"I said 5 minutes, not 78 100." (we're still working on getting the concept of bigger numbers)
"No, you cannot run like a wild thing through the parking lot.  Cars cannot see you and will run right over your under 4 ft tall body." 
"Will you please go make sure your baby sister doesn't fall off the loft bed?"  (Clementine has discovered how much fun climbing ladders is. Yikes!)
"No, the police will not shoot you if you speed."
"No, you do not go to jail for not wearing your seatbelt." (We obviously had some confusion about the roll of law enforcement.)
and my personal favorite...
"No, mommy and daddy do not need your help.  No, please do not try to unlock the door.  We'll be out in a few minutes.  What are we doing?  Umm...mommy's helping daddy with something."  ;)  

These are fantastic, Sarah. Your honesty is hilariously refreshing, as always. Thanks so much for giving me an idea of what my next few years might look like. 

[Thanks to the many moms who have been participating. It's been so fun to hear from each of you. If you want to participate for the first time, or want to come through for round 2, just send your You Know You're a Mom ideas to, along with your website, business or whatever else you'd like promoted. Looking forward to hearing from you.]

Saturday, May 5, 2012

De-Binking the Baby

Before I was a mother, I knew everything about being a mother. Which was incredible since I had never had a child. But some non-parents are capable of impossible things, like knowing what parents should do for their children and what they would do if they had a child and how they will be the one parent who doesn’t use their child as an excuse to leave lame parties. Some non-parents also know that child-rearing is all nurture and almost zero nature so with the right parenting, any child will be near perfect with good manners and Harvard acceptance letters. I was (usually) one of these non-parents.

One of the things I was quite sure about was that I would never use one of those pacifier things because it was pretty much a baby plug, giving the message to our sweet tots that their noise was intolerable and therefore they should be quieted. Parents who used them were walking the lazy fence, less than innovative, and needed to take more time to truly focus on the needs of their children.

[Ha ha ha ha. Yes, that’s the sound of me laughing at my non-parent self, giving out mothering advice for free, if only quietly in my head. But I digress.]

The morning of November 15th, 2010, I became a mother. For the first time, mind you. I was now the proud parent of a real human being, slightly over 7 pounds, with lungs and limbs and the works. He was perfect. And he was loud. I was exhausted after twoish days of labor, which in case you haven’t given birth, is the equivalent of running two consecutive marathons without training. So when the nurses wheeled us both into our recovery room – aptly named – the tiny human and I proceeded to get to know one another. As it turns out, baby cries are one of those languages that require special attention to inflection. I was told by some well-meaning mothers that I would be able to tell the difference between the baby’s cries, when he is hungry or gassy or tired, but I don’t know if that ever came.

But based on all the parenting theories I’d developed as an experienced non-parent, on November 15th, I was tired but still optimistic. The nurse wheeled him in next to our bed with one of the green rubbery baby-quieters next to his head. I grimaced. “I didn’t want him to take a pacifier,” I assuredly told the nurse. Well aware that my statement was borne of pride and miseducation, she informed me that babies have a sucking reflex and often enjoy having something in their mouths. So I could offer him a pacifier, which I can throw away later, or he can use his thumb, which is attached. At 3am, I was powerless against this logic. Into the mouth went the green rubbery baby-quieter, which was soon affectionately named “the bink”, and stops were made to Target to stock up on more.

[Author’s note: The above information is not at all meant to insult parents who decided against the bink, even with the above information about a baby’s sucking reflex. I’ll admit I admire your sticktoitiveness. I was not quite so tenacious with my ideology. So good for you. And if you keep reading, I hope you’ll be able to say it back. :) ]

A happy, binked up baby and a mom who can think. 

In our efforts to be acceptable, not overly accommodating parents, we made vague and well-intentioned threats to de-bink the baby by six months, then one year, then some time before kindergarten. Nights of blindly searching in the almost-dark for the bink fueled hatred for the thing, but the ease at which the little would go to sleep with his soothing accessory urged our need. It was a bit like an addiction for us all. Would the bink era ever end?

The lovely Suri Cruise, age 5, still binking it up. We couldn't let this be John. [Photo credit: The Mommy Files]

About two weeks ago, Josh and I were on vacation. Who knows how it came up, but at breakfast one morning, he decidedly announced that the bink days were over. I suggested that we wait one night after we returned home to let John readjust to being in his own bed, and after we argued about whether or not that was really necessary for longer than necessary, we were in agreement. I think. And one night after returning from vacation, we took the plunge. A tiny snip off the end of the pacifier makes a big difference. We handed him the bink like normal but something was off. He didn’t seem to like the taste. I made “ick” noises at the bink to show my newfound distaste for it, and he found this hilarious. Laughing at our addictions maybe makes them less powerful? A theory worth research, perhaps. Anyway, going to sleep was not without a bit of tears and confusion for a few nights - I think it's called "Bink Withdrawal" - but in less than a week, he was sleeping without it. We survived. 

So even though we didn't really stick to our original plan or our revised plan or the second revised back up plan we made after that, we finally did what we set out to do: de-bink the baby without him using his thumb as recourse. I don't really have a lot of advice or anything, not that you asked for it, but I guess this is just like every other aspect of parenting. You make a decision about what to do and the only way it works is if you stick with it. We did, and success! I wish all of you luck with your de-binking. May you have many sleep-ful nights ahead of you.