1. I’ve never been very good at letting go of things that get to my heart. I have this hard exterior (I think) but I am a brooder. I ruminate and chew on the things that strike me emotionally until they are virtually nothing.
2. I am also very logical and reason-oriented. I need things to happen in a logical sequence. Which makes no sense considering my hatred of almost all numbers.
This sort of internal conflict is probably why I’m depressed.
But anyway, back to the point.
I have made some amazing friends through the interwebz. Yes, I realize that saying “my friends live in my computer” makes me sound like some mid-20’s socially awkward geeky gamer living in his mom and dad’s basement. But it’s true.
I turn to these women in times of sadness and grief. There’s plenty of glorious oversharing. And when there are happy things to be discussed, they are often among the first to find out. It’s how we work. I like it.
However, the other day, I joined in a conversation about sleep training that I have not been able to shake since Sunday. One poster asked what sleep training was and said it sounded ridiculous. I responded with a definition of sleep training and a brief description of the common methods and later commented that sleep training usually sparks images of babies crying-it-out, or self-soothing, or whatever you want to call it. Others commented that it made perfect sense to them. That we have to teach our children good sleep habits. That it’s our job as their parents to teach them how to go to sleep on their own.
I said that calling it sleep “training” indicated that I could train Joshua to sleep the same way I trained Annie not to pee on the rug and that I couldn’t let Joshua cry-it-out after doing it when he was six months old because he KNOWS me now. Like, KNOWS me. He runs up to me and puts his head in my lap and gives me kisses and plays with my nose and laughs when I make silly faces. He. Knows. Me.
And then people began sort of disagreeing with me when I wasn’t even really disagreeing with them in the first place. And this incredible sense of unrest has descended on my mind and my heart and it won’t go away. I felt attacked somehow and didn’t understand it, and still sort of feel attacked. And then, as I chewed on my thoughts some more, I realized why I feel this way.
Because my child doesn’t sleep through the night.
It feels like I’ve done something incredibly wrong because my child still wakes up two or three times a night. Like, if I were a better mother or a better “trainer” then my child wouldn’t still be waking up, sometimes just wanting to be held for a few minutes. If I were a better “trainer” then my child wouldn’t block attempts at one day, maybe having a sibling. (And no, negotiations for Human 2.0 have not commenced. Nor will they any time soon.)
This is just another time when I feel like a colossal screw-up because I’m apparently creating bad habits by comforting my son.
And then I thought some more about it and here’s the thing.
He CAN put himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. He does it on occasion. He’ll wake up, fuss or talk for a minute, and then go back to sleep. I know he’s perfectly capable of going back to sleep on his own.
But what do you do when the baby/toddler WON’T put himself back to sleep?
I know that he can. But he won’t.
He doesn’t understand reasoning and logic the way I do, and that, to date, has to be the hardest part of parenting for me, the logical thinker. I can’t say “we have to sleep all night long so we can play all day tomorrow.” All he hears is “blahblahblahblahPLAYblahblahblah.” I can’t say “You’re too old to have a bottle at night.” All he hears is “blahblahblahblahBOTTLEblahblahblah.” There is no “If you sleep all night long, you can have oyster crackers for breakfast!”
In that case, my only option seems to be to let him CIO, and if I can’t bring myself to do that, what alternative do I have left? How do I “train” him? It seems that, in this case, where he has the skill and chooses not to use it, my option is to “punish” him by not going in to him at night. And yes, it feels like punishment to me. It feels like abandonment and selfishness.
Get my point?
The bigger issue here is, of course, not about sleep training at all. It’s about our need to be “right” when it comes to our parenting choices. It’s about our need for acknowledgment and acceptance and affirmation.
I NEED someone to tell me that it’s okay that my child doesn’t sleep all night long. And others NEED to hear that it’s okay that they let their child cry until s/he falls back to sleep. And we all NEED to stop jumping on each other for having ideas and opinions different from our own.