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Saturday, January 28, 2012


I've been complaining a lot lately. Mostly about sleep. And I realized that if I were to actually listen to myself, I would probably roll my eyes at myself. My situation is pretty great. My kids go to bed at 7 P.M. There is some hemming and hawing, but they are asleep by 8. They still usually nap. Hell, Baby T is in daycare all day three days a week. I can sleep when Little M sleeps if I want to. I have time to get things done for myself, even if I choose not to.

Then I realized that if I were to listen to someone else complain this way, I might roll my eyes at them. Inwardly, of course. So I'm sorry I've been complaining about a pretty great life.

But as parents, most of us have one thing. The thing we don't waver on. The thing we do unfailingly no matter what. I posted a little about my thing the other day. For me, that thing is breastfeeding. I knew I was going to breastfeed my kids. I never minded being stuck to the couch for 40 minutes at a time, every hour on the hour. I never considered the fact that sometimes only I could soothe my crying child a hindrance. It never bothered me that it was me getting up with the baby at night or me doing bedtime because it was just the way it turned out, since I was the one nursing. You see, for me, breastfeeding was never challenging, because I knew that I would do it no matter how challenging it actually was, so I took away the drama.

Sleep, on the other hand, was a different story. I didn't know what to expect, so I didn't have any expectations. I tend to agree with attachment parenting ideals, but I also turn into a total freak if I'm sleep-deprived and exhausted. I always said I wouldn't support the cry-it-out mentality, but it wasn't my thing. So when it comes to sleep, it is all about drama. It is such a challenge. I've succumbed to letting my kids cry in their cribs at one point or another when the only other option would have been throwing them out the window.

After my kids turned one, I found dealing with bedtimes and nighttime wakeups annoying, even infuriating at times. I recently had a friend tell me that it's so much harder for her to hear her 13-month-old daughter cry for any amount of time in her crib now than it was when her daughter was just a baby. I felt the opposite way. I feel like babies don't have any way of communicating and don't understand why no one is responding to their needs if you let them cry, but when my toddler screams from his crib, "Mom! I need you!" it doesn't break my heart; it only sounds like manipulative whining to me.

So when Baby T changed from that kid who asks to go to bed, lies down, pulls up the blankets, says goodnight and sleeps through the night to that kid who climbs out of his crib, appears next to the bed at midnight sucking on his paci Maggie-Simpson-style, and wakes up at 4 A.M. turning all the lights on, it was practically an earth-shattering event in my house.

But it's all about perspective. I keep asking my sister how she managed it with two kids in a New York apartment. Her kids share a room. Her kids have shared a room since her second child was about three months old. When I ask my sister how she did it,she just shrugs her shoulders and says that it just worked out. But sleep is her thing out of necessity. She didn't have another place to put her second child. She always knew her kids would share a room, and there wasn't another option. She never complained about one waking the other up or the challenges that come about from a baby sharing a room with his three-year-old brother.

And I realized...the way to release the drama from motherhood is to make everything your thing. To do that, you must:
  • Get rid of all expectations
  • Live in the moment
  • Address each action as it occurs; don't expect it to happen again, but don't expect it to never happen again either.
  • Don't obsessively picture what your future will be like if you act a certain way today. 
  • Remember: tomorrow is another day.
  • Imagine the moment you first held your child in your arms.
  • Imagine the moment your child will grow taller than you, leave for college, or get married.
  • Have a beer, relax with friends, and get some sleep now and then.


Helen Lloyd said... Best Blogger Tips

Great list. I have been working very hard on adding sleep as my thing, since we got breastfeeding nailed. It's not going to get better quicky, so I've just got to get better in the way I think about it. (easier said than done, though)

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

That's true! You know, sleep has become something completely different than it used to be. Since I never get the chance to sleep through the night anymore, it's the nights I can go to sleep at 8 P.M. that I look forward to now! And I don't even care that I wake up 3 times during the night.

Required Field said... Best Blogger Tips

So true... I was filled with all these expectations placed on me by society, family, friends and even strangers... When B wouldn't/couldn't/didn't sleep, it drove me crazy, angry and sad (from my own sleep deprivation)... Finally, when he was 8 months old, I learned to grasp sleep was not his "thing". He didn't sleep well and that's OK - it is who he is. The acceptance was the key - acknowledging that he was a happy, spirited and lively baby who didn't need the "recommended" 12 hours of sleep a night saved my sanity. He finally slept through the night (for the first time) right around his third birthday and we'll stop co-sleeping when he's ready - not when another well meaning (?) person tells me I'm ruining him for life. :)

Jordyn Zimmerman said... Best Blogger Tips

awwww...that is a sweet little list. will you be there every time my daughter wakes up to read it to me? :) thanks for being honest and sincere. i love knowing i'm not alone. xoxo

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