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.
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.