Have you ever noticed that lazy people are the most tired? I should know, because I am one (a lazy, tired person). But I have a theory. Lazy people are actually not lazy at all in the long term. In the short term they’re lazy as heck. But in the long term they’re the ones spiraling 20 miles up the mountain when they could have taken the short but painfully steep path straight to the top. They’re the ones staying up all night to write that paper they’ve had six months to work on, and what could have been a leisurely and relaxed project ends up being fueled by Red Bull and swearing.
Case in point: Me
To the outside world I probably look like a super hippy crunchy mama. I babywear, even though my “baby” is now a toddler and weighs the same as a small car. We co-slept up until 18 months, I’m still breastfeeding, and we did baby-led weaning (which should probably be re-christened baby-led food fight). To the inside world, however (i.e., me), the truth is quite different. And that truth is that I am super-duper extra-specially lazy. Yet somehow my laziness has led me to strapping a toddler to my chest, not sleeping, still breastfeeding, and perpetually needing to clean my kitchen floor. Let us explore…
I do have some crunchy leanings. Babywearing is good for attachment. Also, having a tiny warm newborn strapped to your chest with his fuzzy newborn head in kissing reach is the best feeling in the world. So at first I wore him for his sake as much as my own. I liked keeping him close, and if it was good for him, so much the better. Then he got bigger and heavier, and if I could have left him sitting on the rug while I made dinner, I would have. But he seemed to take that as a personal insult, so I wore him to keep him quiet and allow me to cook. These days, cooking while toddler-wearing is a liability, but it’s just easier to strap his small rebellious body to mine. I’ll probably be hunchbacked by 40, but babywearing is the easiest way forward.
My idea of co-sleeping pre-baby was having him in a crib next to our bed. Not having to stand up at 2 a.m. seemed like a good idea, and being able to just open my eyes and check that he was breathing seemed like a great idea. But then we were landed with an infant who had an innate and violent hatred of his own bed. In fact it was more like an innate and violent hatred of any flat surface that didn’t have arms and a heartbeat. Perhaps it’s gas, the doctor suggested, so I held him for 20 minutes after every feed, then gently eased him into his crib. And then he would scream and I would nurse.
So it wasn’t so much a decision to co-sleep as much as a decision not to die of sleep deprivation. But then as he got older and proved technically capable of sleeping on a flat inanimate surface, giving up co-sleeping just seemed like too much work. OK, so he nursed 90% of the time and would wake if I tried to allow blood-flow back into my right arm, but in order to get more sleep I’d first have to lose sleep — and so, once again, short-term laziness wins out over long-term sleep.
I started baby-led weaning because my friend had done it and made it sound super cool. You’re empowering your baby to control how much they eat! They get to taste so many different foods! They get to explore varied textures! However, I soon realized that baby-led weaning kept him busy and quiet and meant I could eat my dinner without having to spoon-feed him. Rather than steaming and pureeing foods, I just needed to hold off on salting our dinner before I portioned it out and then it’d keep him occupied for the duration. Sure, my floor ended up covered in spaghetti sauce and he required at least three baths a day, but hey — I got to sit down and eat!
I always wanted to breastfeed. I had a determination to breastfeed that shocked and surprised everyone who knew me. In fact, persevering with breastfeeding is probably the sole example in my life of a time when I have actually chosen a steep, rocky, painful, and near soul-destroying path. Perhaps my subconscious knew that breastfeeding would give me the perfect excuse to watch the entire series of “Parenthood” on Netflix. Or that breastfeeding would be the actual solution to every problem in the first year of my son’s life. Bored? Here’s a boob. Teething? Boob. Underestimated the cat’s wrath at having his tail pulled? Definite boob.
As well as solving all the world’s problems, breastfeeding meant sitting still and snuggling with my son while magically losing calories. However, breastfeeding an 18-month-old is more like having an Olympic gymnast doing her floor routine on your lap while being attached to your nipple. It’s no longer easy or relaxing, but stopping breastfeeding means weathering an extremely disgruntled toddler, capable of making massive amounts of noise, and I just can’t be bothered.
And here we are. I’m tired, you guys, and I’m probably going to give myself a hernia one of these days, or possibly get my nipples twisted off (can that happen?), but I can’t say I’m sorry. The choices I’ve made in the fog of sleep deprivation may have meant short-term wins for long-term bloody hard work, but when I total up the head-kisses and snuggles and the ridiculous cuteness of his waking-up face and even the hilarity of breastfeeding a windmill, I realize I’ve been compensated for my trouble. Even if my motivation was more laziness than crunchiness.