Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Sleep...at any cost

It’s almost every little girl’s dream to grow up and some day, become a Mommy. There are, of course, exceptions, but for the most part, little girls have something in them that wants to become a Mommy. We take care of our dollies like they were real little babies. If they cry, we meet whatever their needs are…usually a diaper change or a bottle…we make sure that they stop crying and feel good again.

So why, when we grow up, are real babies any different than our dollies? Hold that thought…

I am a member of several “Mommy Boards” where women from all over the world can post messages to one another about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. I have been involved in many different boards since about 1998, when Hubster and I decided to try for Middleman. Many of the women I met way back then are still together now on FUN These boards are fantastic in that they allow us to ask questions of one another and get support on issues from breastfeeding to teething to tantrums and everything in between.

Now that I am on my third child, I find that I am more on the giving side of advice than on the receiving side. I’ve been there, done that in most circumstances and it is nice to be a veteran, able to help first time moms with their questions. Lately though, I am finding myself getting angry at some of the things mothers are posting.

Anyone who has ever even considered having a child knows that with a baby comes disrupted sleep. You may be lucky and have a child who sleeps long stretches very early (like Threepeat, at 5 weeks) or you may have a child who doesn’t sleep through the night until 18 months (like Middleman). You may even have a child who is somewhere in between, who sleeps long stretches at around 6 months (like Boy Oneder). So why then, at four months of age, are mothers desperately seeking ways to make their child sleep through the night? Some of the ideas posted on one of my boards are:

- “Let them cry it out. It’s really hard for a few nights, but she’ll eventually get it. Have your husband deal with her if it’s too hard for you.”

- “Give him tylenol before bed. Maybe he is teething and in pain.”

- “Don’t give her a bottle unless you ABSOLUTELY have to.”

- “NEVER bring him into bed with you. What a terrible habit you would be starting.”

Many of these posts never use the words “Cry it out”…they use “sleep training” or “CIT” instead. I guess that takes the sting out of the way it sounds for them? But I digress….

Going back to my original question…why, when we grow up, are real babies any different than our dollies? And another question…why can’t we use COMFORT as a means to getting them to sleep? These women would rather give their children drugs than to comfort their baby in the night. That is RIDICULOUS!

Hubster and I have shared our bed with all of our children. Boy Oneder was with us until he was 4. Middleman joined us when Boy Oneder was 3 and so we got ourselves a kingsize bed. When Middleman was a year old, we moved the two boys into a queen bed together. They each have their own rooms now, but they choose to stay together…and that’s perfectly fine. Threepeat is in our bed and doesn’t even HAVE a crib.

I’m not saying that co-sleeping is for everyone, but why is it necessary to force our children to adhere to OUR schedule? Why is is so wrong for a baby to want his mommy in the middle of the night? Maybe he just wants to be held. Is that so bad? I can guarantee you that he won’t be crying for comfort every night when he is 18, no matter how much comfort you give him as a baby. In fact, it has been proven that the more comfort a baby gets when he is small, the more independent he is as an older child.

I posted once that I didn’t agree with crying it out and that Hubster and I were a child-led family. I explained that to me, “child-led” meant that we let the children decide when they were ready to meet certain milestones (ie: getting rid of the pacifier). I was scathed that day, saying that I was doing the child an injustice by letting them “rule” my life. That as parents, we need to set the bar and have the children adjust. That they were “family-led” not “child-led”. Ugh…whatever. They told me that I would be raising spoiled brats that no one would want to teach because I met their needs. Ask any of Boy Oneder and Middleman's teachers what they think of them…you will ALWAYS get, “I wish there were more children like them.”

In the selfish quest for a full night’s sleep, women are failing their children. We would hug and hold our dollies with so much love in our hearts, but we will only do that for our real babies if it’s convenient. If not, just lay them in their cribs and let them learn that life doesn’t revolve around them. If that doesn’t work, give them medication. Pretty damned sad.

I’m not perfect, not by ANY stretch. I make many, many mistakes as a mother. But at least I can say that I devoted myself to them as babies. I let them know that Mommy was there for them whether it was 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning.

My children, not sleep, are my priority…I have the bags under my eyes to prove it. Pin It

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