Guilt is a sticky, tangled web and fear, the paralyzing spider.
The importance of making decisions that have no foundation in fear or guilt probably ranks higher than just about anything in my life and yet, since becoming a mom, I’ve found myself trapped into bad decisions (or the avoidance of any.decision.at.all) so often.
The words “sleep training” literally send chills down my spine. I hated sleep training with Little Man and, since Little Hiccup’s birth, I’ve dreaded the inevitable. I love the idea of family bed but, for some reason, that hasn’t worked for us with either of my boys. It inevitably leaves me overtired and slightly
insane off balance. BUT, so does the transition to the crib.
I’ve talked about how I felt about choosing between CIO (Cry It Out) vs. family bed here. I hate feeling like it’s all or nothing. The world isn’t black and white and the decisions I make as a parent shouldn’t be either. The only thing I do exclusively is breastfeed and that’s only because I can. If a situation ever arose where it was necessary, I’d use donated milk or formula.
Since LH’s birth, I’ve done everything in my power to ease the crib transition. Which is something I didn’t do with LM. I thought, if the transition was gradual enough, we could avoid letting LH cry at all. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with soothing a baby to sleep and I definitely believe a child can learn to fall asleep on their own without CIO. The idea that they can’t is just bollox! No, I’m not British. Yes, I said that with a British accent.
The thing is, fear of letting my child cry at all created a monster. The past few months were miserable for me and LH. I mean true misery. And then I read this post by Suchada from Mama Eve. I love her blog, by the way. What really hit home for me was this sentence: “But if parenting has become a chore because you’re not getting enough sleep, or depression is setting in, or you find yourself cranky and yelling all the time, then making gentle and respectful changes to sleeping arrangements are going to make your relationship with your child better, not worse.” AMEN.
I’ve been trying to adhere to a routine for a few months now, but the routine alone wasn’t working. Here’s what was happening:
- hour long bedtime routine ended with LH asleep
- five hours of sleep
- LH wakes up crying
- At least one FULL hour to put LH back down
- four or so more hours of sleep
I could handle five hour stretches of sleep. Believe me, that’s a HUGE improvement from what LM did at the same age. The problem, for me, was the hour or more it took for me to put him back to sleep in the middle of the night. It left us both sleep deprived and unhappy. So I clicked over to Suchada’s other post and read and made some changes.
The web of guilt over needing more sleep and the paralyzing fear of being a bad mother caused me to live on the edge of depression for too long. Suchada’s post set me free. I ended up letting LH cry a little and really listening to his cry to respond as needed. I also started reading more about RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) and found that a) I already follow that “method” in many aspects and b) I now know where to look for ideas when I find myself at a loss (a frequent occurrence) from now on.
So what did I learn? Fear and guilt are never great feelings to rely on when making decisions. Especially when it comes to my kids. I want them to face the world with confidence, not fear, and I need to show them how to do that. Listening to words of wisdom from other mothers has made an empowering difference in my life.