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Buy Now, Pay Later

My girlfriend Abby is often fond of saying, “Every decision you make as a parent comes down to this:  Do I want to pay now, or pay later?  Do I enforce a rule now, or do I let it slide and deal with it when it’s a bigger mess later?  Do I lose sleep tonight when I sleep-train my baby, or do I lose sleep for the next three years as I get up to soothe him back to sleep every night?”

I’m starting to really understand what she means.

Madeleine’s been great about her sleep; after that rough patch she had at the beginning of this month, she’s back to sleeping till 6 or so, eating, then going back to sleep another couple of hours.  And for the first two nights in Dallas, she stayed on that schedule.  But now the week’s wearing on her; too many new cousins, too many loud restaurants, too many strangers wanting to hold her and make her laugh.  So she’s been clingy this week, and has started waking up at 1:30 a.m. or so for an additional feeding.  Brian and I decided to not fight her on it; for one thing, she may be going through a growth spurt.  For another, it’s not fair to the rest of the hotel guests to have to listen to her cry.  And finally, she’s a great kid, and if she’s getting up just because she needs more mommy time right now, that’s ok.

But it’s the end of the week and it’s a solid part of her routine now, and I’m afraid we’re going to have to do the sleep training thing all over again when we get home.  It hurts just to think about it, frankly.  I called Abby this morning, despairing, and she said, “Jen, traveling the first year is the hardest thing ever.  All parents agree on that.  You’ve got so much gear, and the routine thing; it’s a real burden.  Listen, every parent I know says the same thing:  Do whatever it takes to get through the trip, and sort out the consequences when you get home.”  In other words, a clear case of pay later.

I just feel the interest adding up.


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