Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The best day ever!

Je pense que mes enfants... oh wait! I'm beginning to think in French!

I think my children may have just had the best day of their young lives! At least the girls, ages 6 and nearly 5. France is growing on all of us and hearing my daughters speak so fluently in their 'other' native language makes my heart soar.

We are staying in a small village in the Midi-Pyrenees. So small the houses have names instead of street numbers. Nearby is a lovely "Cite Medievale" (sorry, I don't know how to get those accents in there!) called Lauzerte. There, we've had a few lovely walks and lunches. Within the city's borders is an equestrian center. I'm not sure what pony rides are like in your neck of the woods, but where I'm from they involve 6 ponies going round in a circle for about 2 minutes. Not here. Here, pictures will express it better than my words. Regard:

The sheer beauty of this countryside fills my heart so that it may burst. Then, to see my children beam as brightly as the field of sunflowers we pass by each time we descend our borrowed vacation home (regard:)

makes everything even more special.

And the simplest afternoon, spent in the pool. Again, pictures say more than words:

I doubt bedtime will bother me at all tonight.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I hate bedtime

Whether you're in the breathtaking countryside of France, a mid-West suburb or anywhere else in the world, bedtime remains the same: parent wants child to sleep but child wants to stay awake. 

My little fellow, who is not quite so little anymore at 21 months, had finally become a good sleeper in the month or two prior to our vacation. Now, after two weeks in France, the only time he falls asleep outside the arms of my mother-in-law (watch for a tribute to her in the coming days) or me is here: 

or here:

We had a good routine at home. He never failed to go to sleep on his own. He woke up regularly, which was a problem for a long time, but was better. But he always went to sleep on his own crisis-free. Now, to put him into the portable crib it is as if I am showing him the face of the devil himself.

For the first several days of our vacation I tried the usual routine and just let him fall asleep in my arms. Now he tenses up and clings tightly to me if I walk near his bed. I'm at a loss. But his sleep, or lack thereof, is not my biggest problem. It is that I seem to judge my success as a mother by whether or not I successfully put my children to bed. Clearly, at this point I am a failure. My daughters flat-out tell me "No" when I tell them it's bedtime. Only threatening and severe yelling seem to work, which only reinforces my sense of absolute failure.

What must my mother-in-law think of a woman who can't even put her own child to bed? She has happily taken on bedtime this week by swinging with him outside until he is lulled to sleep on her shoulder. Even that doens't work for me.

Having time alone with my husband, by myself or with other adults is critical to my sanity. When my children refuse to sleep, I become so frustrated and am overwhelemed with a sense of parental failure. What kind of a mother can't even put her children to bed?