Posts Tagged ‘nighttime parenting’

the other day i took a moment to read annie over at PhD in Parenting’s post in which she asked crib using parents to tell her what the transition to a bed was like for them and their child. she put the post up out of curiosity, not understanding how the child who needs to be “contained” in their crib to go to sleep ever makes the transition to a bed. seems harmless enough to ask but of course, in the world of parenting, no question about differences is every received as harmless.

she was, in fact, attacked for using the term “parenting to sleep” to describe the method that parents who chose not to sleep train, ferberize, cry it out, etc use. the method of staying with your child and meeting their needs and trusting that in time they will learn to fall asleep on their own safely, comfortably, and without crying alone in their bed. among the parents i know who practice attachment parenting this is a pretty safe term to use and i have used it many times in my talking with local parents to try to explain how i handle bedtime and naptime without being negative. what i mean is that saying “we parent our children to sleep” sounds much nicer to me than “we chose not to sleep train/ferberize” or whatever term i would use. in fact, it seems to me like the less judgmental way to say it between those two. anyway, annie was called out in the comments section of her blog for using the term which offended some parents who do sleep train because it implies that they are not being a parent at bedtime.


i almost want to erase that whole paragraph because it isn’t even my point but it did get me thinking. it primed me to read further through the comments which is where the point of this post cropped up. a few commenters explained that had chosen to stay with their first child while they fell asleep – but that it was a terrible decision that they constantly regretted and so they had chosen to sleep train subsequent children.

having had those nights where i just want the kids to fall asleep so i can get my time to myself i can totally relate to that feeling of, “argh! this sucks!” still, that has not become the defining feeling in the experience for me and i was wondering why. i think i have come up with two reasons.

first of all, i was truly lucky to stumble upon a very support space in the internet when the bean was just a few weeks old. the kellymom forums provided me with amazing breastfeeding support and also tightly moderated boards that were supportive of attachment parenting.

for me, this meant i had experienced parents and other new mama’s like me, reminding me that my child needing me to fall asleep is “normal.” my child not sleeping through the night at six months was “normal.” that parenting is not easy, that all the ap parents out there have moments also where they just want to scream at their child to “FALL ASLEEP!” but, and this is a big but, that doesn’t mean that you are doing the wrong thing. being frustrated, thinking it is hard, thinking it is more than you can handle does not mean it is the wrong decision for you. it means you need support, you need outlets, you need breaks built into your parenting so that you have the fuel to handle the harder moments. for me, in the early formative months of my parenting the support came from the kellymom forums and specifically some women on there who cheered me on daily. some of whom i am still in touch with (thank you michele, cookie, annie, naomi, monique, carol, annie, paula and so many others).

so yes, to survive the tougher moments of parenting we need support. but what else helped me to have a high needs child, and a very high needs sleeper, and still not come away feeling like the women who commented on annie’s post? i think the other thing was the tendency to look inward when i am struggling. if i am having a hard go of parenting it helps me to think that i need to do some work on my self. i see my parenting as my job, my calling, and my journey right now. it sounds a little insane but it is true. i trust that parenting is pushing me to grow in the ways i need to so when the challenge feels huge i try to do the work i need to do to meet it. i don’t mean to say these other women didn’t do what they should have. i am not trying to criticize. i am trying to lay out what worked for me – and maybe it could help some other mama’s out there when they are struggling.

so, what influences my work? how to i look inward? i try to read parenting books that help me learn how i want to parent and learn what baggage i might be bringing to the table (should i offer a list of my favorite books?) i talk to other ap friends about what i might need to feel better about my parenting. i look at my parenting in my time in therapy. i try to read blogs that support and encourage this kind of parenting, and this kind of self work, to help inspire me.

specifically carrie over at that parenting passageway wrote an excellent series 20 days toward being a more mindful mother. i have to tell you, in the spirit of openness, that i did not force myself to “do” every single day that carrie created but i put energy into the pieces that spoke most deeply to me at the time. although one commenter said on day 20 that she intended to print each day out and do the full thing at her own speed and i thought that was a fantastic idea.

right now kris at the natural parenting center blog is running a conscious parenting course. it started with this post and continued on today. good stuff!

so what is my point today? i don’t think parenting is easy stuff and i certainly struggle just as much as the next person. i have been trying to reflect on what i have counted on in the moments and choices that seemed the most difficult for me – based on my children’s personalities, society, more mainstream parenting, and my own weaknesses. the two things that have come to mind is finding support from like minded parents i could trust and my tendency to look at what i can change about myself when i am struggling instead of believing their is something wrong with my children or the choice i made.

gosh, i hope that someday all this rambling is helpful to someone besides me. ha!

happy saturday people.
and any fellow woowoo warriors out there.


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the last few nights the bean has been coming into the bed with me sometime between 11 and 1.  he arrives in the room silently and i only know to wake up and find him because i have heard his door opening on the monitor i still use with him.  i wake up slowly and turn to see him standing silently by my bed.  he only speaks once he sees me open my eyes and turn to face him.

“mama, i need to tinkle.”

i sigh, rise from my cozy bed, and take his hand.  in the bathroom i unzip his pajama’s (he insists on footies because the pea has them) and put him up on the toilet reminding him not to start peeing until he is sure his penis is pointing the right way.  it is rote for me, we do this almost every night.  when he is done i help him get his undies and jammies back on in the darkness.  then i take his hand again and he says to me, “i want to be in your bed.”

sometimes, if the pea isn’t sleeping well, if he is sick and i have the humidifier on in his room, or if i have fallen prey to the “should’s” in my own mind i tell him we need to go back to his bed.  i tell him how cozy it is and i get in with him and lay there while i wait for him to fall asleep.  or i bring the pea’s monitor with me and i fall asleep too.  once i am sure he is sound asleep i get up and tip toe out and back to my own bed.

other times i just nod and rearrange the pillows so he can have the one i like to use, pull back the covers and pat the side i want him to lay on.  then i snuggle in with him and say, “good night beanie.  i love you.  time to sleep.”

of course, there are nights when he fidgets and fusses and generally makes me wish for morning to come so i can stop feeling so cheated.  but recently he just closes his eyes and holds onto my finger with his small warm hand and goes to sleep curled up into me.

then as the night goes on we cosleep in all its beauty.  this is, to me, the bliss of cosleeping.  the bean and i have always slept well together.  like our bodies instinctively know how to snuggle in the most comforting and comfortable ways.  the pea, she likes to sleep draped on top of me.  until she gets tired of that and then with a huff wants to move to her own space.  then back on top of me and so on in a confusing daze of hours spent wondering if she is happy.

but the bean, he slides up into me and turns away in the smoothest movements.  drapes his legs over mine which are curled up around him.  slips his small warm hand under my neck into it’s perfectly fitting spot.  when he sleeps well and sleeps with me it is magical.  it is comfortable and sweet and bonding while we dream.  we move into snuggles and out into our own space without really waking.  in the morning he presses his body tightly into mine and puts his head on my shoulder as he opens his beautiful huge blue eyes and asks me sweetly, “is it morning time?”

and i kiss his forehead which is right there in position to be kissed and enter the day with the same excitement as he has.  “yes my love, it is morning time.”

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at 4 am the other night chickpea was up to nurse and she had a lot of trouble settling back down.  she is cutting about three molars right now and that means a lot of nursing, tossing, turning, whining, and such.  around 5 am she was just nodding off, laying across my belly and latched on still but nodding off.

it was right as i was thinking, “ah, i think she might be sleeping,” that i heard the sound of the bean climbing out of his bed and opening his door.  he came rushing down the hall and into my room where he stopped at the edge of the bed.  (this is his typical 4 or 5 am routine these days.)  i made room for him next to me and patted the bed.  he climbed in.

chickpea looked up at him and smiled.  my heart sank.

i “shhhhhhhhhhhh”ed loudly and they were both quiet.  but there was twitching followed by fidgeting followed by tossing and then turning.  eyes were rubbed.  looks were exchanged.  i am telling you, they were in cahoots.

and my head was exploding with anger.  pop.  pop.  pop goes the blood vessels.  my inner voices were screaming, “this is so unfair!  we need sleep!  why are these kids being so BAD?!”

and then in the midst of all the popping and yelling going on in my head i heard a calm voice pipe up, “what is so bad about being awake early in the morning with two happy children that you grew in your belly, birthed, and love with all your heart?  why spend this hour being angry when you could just accept that you are up and move on into enjoying watching them interact?  why not try to just wake up with the joy that they do, the joy to start a new day?”

i know i read in one of my more waldorfy books recently this idea about being prepared mentally to start the day with warmth and love.  it hit home for me because neither of my kids are the most natural sleepers and i am often up at night or up early in the morning and feeling sorry for myself about it.  when the bean was younger and up a lot i remember i read an essay in which a mom shared her secret to dealing with lack of sleep was truly believing “i am ok like this.”  gosh, that helped me so much.  and now, in the darkness of 5 am in new england, the cold darkness, i am taking it a step farther.

i am deciding to wake up with joy.

on that morning, sunday, it worked out nicely.  and you know what?  this morning they managed to both sleep pressed up next to me and on top of me until 6:20.  so i don’t have to wake up at 4 everyday.

it strikes me that i want to thank all the mama’s out there who share the wisdom of kindness and love.  dang but it is good stuff.

peace people.

woowoo mama.

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when the bean was little, and was my only child, i thought so much about how we were practicing attachment style parenting and how different it was from everyone we knew.  i worried about what people would think when we met them and i explained that he slept with us.  or what the reaction would be to the fact that i was still nursing on demand (day and night) past the age of one (and then two).  i worried about what people were thinking as i wrapped him onto my back in the parking lot so i would have my hands free.

i think this kind of worrying and alienation feeling peaked when the bean was around two years old and i was pregnant with chickpea.  i was still wearing the bean, nursing the bean, cosleeping, and all those things that defined us as “ap.”  and i was pregnant.  i had this fear that people were going to see my big old belly full of baby and my toddler at my breast and turn in terror screaming, “freak!  freak!  freak!”

i am not sure when the shift happened, or why (i am still wildly insecure about almost everything at times) but i notice recently that i just don’t think about it so much.  i don’t think about if being ap is good, or different, or freaky, or alienating, or wonderful, or perfect, i just don’t think about it that much.  the truth is that it was what i was doing naturally with the bean, then i learned it had a name and i found online support and i became better versed in the how’s and why’s of it all.  but, left to my own devices and my own rhythms it is just the kind of mama i am.

now with two kids in the house i suppose i have less time for reflection all around.  and with three and a half years under my belt i guess i feel somewhat more confident as a parent all around.  and with the bean getting older i can see some of the ways that being attachment parents has created a really beautiful young child and so i doubt the process less.  or also, maybe it is my second time having a baby and so i think about all of it less.  there must be a million reasons that i don’t feel such a need to hide, to wonder, to doubt myself, to worry about what others will think.

chickpea turned one year old the other day.  i still nurse and rock her to sleep and i am totally cool with that.  when she wakes up for the first time at night i grab her out of her room and bring her into the bed with us.  she sometimes likes to snuggle with me and sometimes like to flail about until she is sideways and can kick me.  some nights she nurses on and off every ten minutes it seems and other nights she’ll fall asleep next to me and i won’t hear from here again for four or six hours.  i am not obsessed with when she will sleep through the night.  i am not obsessed with when she learn to sleep on her own.  i am not wondering if i should be trying to night wean.  i am just remembering how much i worried about all of that with the bean and seeing how everything just kind of happens when they are ready.  if i do nothing but love and support to the best of my ability all day and all night – they grow up.  they do those things that some of my non-ap friends kids maybe did a lot younger.  they just get there.  it happens.  without me needing to spend so much energy stressing over how i am doing it and what other people might think about how i do it.

the truth?  i have no regrets about the ways i have done things.  not for one second do i wish i spent less time cosleeping, or nursing, or awake in the middle of the night, or snuggling my children, or rocking, or wearing them on my body.  my only regret now is that i don’t get to do it forever.  my fleeting regret is that they do grow up, they do fall asleep on their own at some point, or wave good bye happily when i leave the house.

i love them, and i love the way we do things around here.  and i don’t write about it very much because it is a non-issue.  we are still hard core ap, i just think about it less.

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this moment in time feels so familiar to me.  i have idea’s and plans and so much to do and instead of moving into the work i am on the couch in my pajama’s and i haven’t washed my face in days.  ok, not entirely true, today i washed my face and brushed my teeth and got dressed by 8 am but i did have an appointment.  in general, this week i have been gray and a little sullen and in that zone of too much to do and doing nothing.  i want to be doing but instead i am not and the longer i am not doing the more i feel behind in my doing the more overwhelmed i am and the more stuck i get.  hello my good friend rabbit.  so nice to see you again.  here we are, frozen in our fear together.

what do i want and need to be doing:

work for my class (reading and papers)

laundry (we got behind while i was in class)

creating rhythm and activity in my days at home with the kids (for bean especially)

reading to get ideas on how to start the rhythm/activity stuff

making a plan of what the days could look like

implementing the plan

going through the toys (again) and getting rid of the plastic stuff i hate hate hate (some can stay but not the triple hate stuff)

organizing my desk area (ikea would really help if we could swing the funds)

writing about non-attachement on this blog

SHREDDING (for the love of all things holy i know i’d feel better if i got back to it but i am so tired i don’t and so on and so on)

geting my eye brows waxed (this is shallow but pleasing)

getting my hair cut (see above)

shipping books out to green mamma

shipping out sold dipes

learning to knit well enough to make things

learning to sew too

being generally amazingly crafty like soulemama

adopting a dog into our family

getting involved in the local food pantry

painting the bedrooms

making the kids rooms nicer to be in

finishing the second front garden

canning some things (learning to can) for the winter

learning to make my own cheese!

having more fun parenting

going on a nice date with flash

sleeping, sleeping, and sleeping some more.

oh yes, a little sleep might go a long way.  with flash away the timing for the pea’s recent sleep strike isn’t great.  she is keeping me up most of the night and there is no one to take her when she is up for the day so i get a little break.  she is nursing a ton, biting, tossing and turning and whining.  i am guessing maybe a tooth is coming but from 1 am until i give up hope at 5:45 i am not really as compassionate as i could be.  i am tired!  right now i am drinking coffee (albeit half caf) in the afternoon which is basically me asking to be up until 1 am which is around the time she stops sleeping so i am caught in a cycle here.  and, isn’t it funny that i want more babies!

so how are all of you on this long gray week?  anyone else want to share their to do list?  or their sleep deprivation stories?  or a late afternoon mini half caf?

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holding on

the bean has been a little sick this week which means neither of us are getting much sleep and i have to tell you it is catching up with me.  maybe i am hosting the virus too or something cause i feel like a basket case of a mama.  maybe it is that one night of cleaning up puke and a second night of being kicked from 4 am on instead of sleeping is enough to make me grumpy.  combine that with a case of potential misunderstanding leading to hurt feelings and a kid that is tired and whining and three and SPIRITED and i am just tested.  truly truly tested.  earlier today i was singing a little song that went like this:


god help me to a better mother.

i need help.

please god help me.

and my spirit guides too.

and my power animals.

anyone who can hear me.

come on over and help me.

i need help.

spirits help me.

help me be a better mother.

(at this point the bean chimed in “and me too!” which was pretty cute.)


i rethought the lyrics a little bit and decided asking to just be a better mother was a little confining so an hour later i was singing again but this time:


god help me to be a better me.

a calmer version of me.

oh spirit guides lead me to my true self.

i need my strength.

power animals help me be me.


except that time the bean chimed in to say “stop singing!  no singing!”  sigh.


i just keep reminding myself that tomorrow i get my hair cut.  and keep thinking about having a right fine nape and that makes me giggle.  napes and singing keeps me holding on…

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straws are yummy

straws are yummy

it is gray today and earlier it was raining.  i have started a few different posts but i am having so much trouble knowing what i feel like writing about.  i keep staring at the screen, at the cursor, and thinking, “is this over yet?”  i think this is one of those moments when it is helpful that i committed to posting everyday.  not because a post matters.  but because for me writing matters.  and if i hadn’t said i would do it everyday then right now i would be doing something else.  something that brought my attention away from myself and my family and my life.  


i might be reading pw, or looking for recipes on 101cookbooks, or lurking in the wrappers paradise over at tbw. but i certainly wouldn’t be focused inward.

the gray is a little oppressive. i wouldn’t say it is a bad day, i still feel ok, but i just feel uncertainty and that can be unsettling. is it going to rain, or clear up? literally and no so literally.

last night the pea fell asleep alone in her crib. she was fighting falling asleep while i was rocking her and the bean was ready for me to help him so i tried putting her in her crib. after a few squeaks she fell asleep. she has done this three times now and each time i feel a strange combination of happiness and sadness. i am happy that she is different then the bean, that i might not face three years of being the only person in the world who can put her to sleep. but, i am sad that she is falling asleep all alone. even though she is ok, even though she is not really needing me, i still feel lonely for her.

i know this is major stuff and i should grab hold of it and keep doing it and let her learn that falling asleep alone is a lovely thing. then she will be an “easier” sleeper. but it is just so foreign to me. i don’t think i have fully grasped how she is totally different then the bean. i still project some of what i learned from him on to her. so even though i know she is ok from observing her, there is a nagging part of me that thinks “but that can’t be right” because it was so far from ever being ok for him.

last night i put her in her crib and she was eyes wide open. i went into the beans room and i laid down with him in his bed. he snuggled into me and i pulled up my shirt so that he could touch the mole on my stomach. yes, he weaned when she was born but he still touches me to fall asleep. while he was touching my mole, i was whispering “shhhhhhh” and patting his bum lightly. and he was going to sleep.

and i was thinking, i wonder what the pea is doing. at one point i heard her squeaking some and flash (who had been laying on the beans bed with us) got up and to check on her. but by the time he got to her room she was asleep.

it is entirely interesting to me that i was parenting my three year old to sleep and my 7.5 month old was falling asleep on her own. who would have thunk it?

i know there are people out there who will think i created the bean’s need. but deep in my heart i do not believe that. i followed his cues and i met his needs and he needed and needed and continues to need. and i know there are ap people who will wonder what i mean by “squeak” and think that i am close to doing cio with the pea. but i have to tell you, that is not what i think is going on. i think this is the example of different kids being different. of sleep being a milestone just like anything else. and if you do nothing really, you just try to do your best and follow their cues, some kids can fall asleep and some cannot. at 7 months, at 12 months, at 18 months, at 2.5 years, at 3 and for who knows how much longer, the bean has been a child who needs a little help with sleep.

so, yes, the pea fell asleep. it was about 8pm. and at 1am i heard her make a noise on the monitor so i walked into her room to get her but when i got there she was asleep. so i walked back to my bed and went back to sleep. and at about 3:30 i woke up because my breasts were so full they were throbbing and leaking. and i was thinking about finding the pump. and i was thinking about plugs. and i was thinking that her nursing every two seconds through being sick and then suddenly sleeping 8 hours was kind of not fair to my boobs.

by 4 am i decided to go nurse her. i went to her room and picked her up and carried her back to the bed where i nursed her, got some relief and then lay down next to her and snuggled and i feel asleep the most soundly i had all night.

i know, many of you will think i am crazy. i woke up a baby who was sleeping though the night. when she was sleeping through the night, i was up every hour or so wondering about her. and when she came to the bed with me and woke every hour herself i slept deeply. go figure. i am some kind of ap, breastfeeding, cosleeping, freaky woowoo mama.

i wonder what tonight will bring.  i am fairly sure that she will read my blog, get a good laugh, and then go back to waking up every ten minutes and needing me to parent her to sleep. it would serve me right for trying to process anything other…

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