Monday, January 7, 2013

"Tree. Buh Bye!"

Christmas 2012 officially ended in our household over the weekend. Munch, though not crazy about the attention Hubs and I had to give to the tree-dissembling, loved watching Daddy haul the tree out the door and even more loved watching Mommy vacuum up the leftover needles (which he then proceeded to pick off the soles of his bare feet).

Now, he points to the bare spot where the tree stood and says, "Tree. Buh Bye!" It's so cute, and, I believe, his first official sentence--two thoughts together, anyway!

But, it seems we're either in a transition period or still just having a rough-ish transition back to routine after being off from work and traveling over Christmas and New Years. Munch did so well all the way to New Year's Eve, though, napping and sleeping at mostly the appointed times, that I guess I didn't realize we had much transition to go through. Basically, sleep is sucking right now--or, rather, since we all pretty much sleep eventually, bedtime is sucking.


I didn't sleep train my son. There, I said it. I feel it's this dirty little secret I've been keeping, and reading mommy blogs where they talk about laying their babies down awake niggle into my brain as I know that Hubs or I spend 15-60 minutes swaying a 21-month-old to sleep before making the delicate transition to the crib.

I cannot let him cry. I just can't. Especially now that he inserts a desperately choke-screamed, Mommy!! when we let him sit in his crib for 5 minutes after we've unsuccessfully swayed for 60.

However, I know that there are ways to sleep train without crying it out and I just haven't fully committed to any of them. I imagined that as he grew older, he would come to understand that the crib is his bed and his bed is nice and it's there for sleeping. It would be a positive place for him. What it appears that he's learned is that the Big Bed is there for sleeping and it's much better and friendlier than his lonely crib. This also I've done to him, bringing him into the bed with us when he wakes at 1am instead of taking the time to sway him back to sleep. I've only got myself to blame, right?

And there it is: blame. I just keep saying over and over, I've done this to him, I've done this to him, I'm doing this to him. After all, he lies down by himself to sleep at day care. Mommy's presence is the X factor.

I tell myself I'm being dramatic. He'll sleep eventually, he'll get it eventually. But my mom didn't cry it out, but rather rocked me. And I have a very hard time as an adult getting to sleep. I understand I cannot say one caused the other, as I'm sure many other factors go into my adult sleeping troubles, not the least of which is my overactive, never-quiet mind.

But, the niggling thought: I'm doing this to him, setting him up for a lifetime of bad sleep.

Isn't this what we parents, but mostly we mothers, fear so much? That what we do now will have long-lasting detrimental effects. There's the old cliche: In therapy, everyone blames everything on the mothers. When we adults, or at least we adults trying to figure our shit out, take a macro look at our lives, Mother looms large. She's the one who loved us fiercest, protected us tirelessly, and helped set our course in the world.

But, in my son's case, she's the one who aided him to sleep instead of trusting him to do it himself. She's the one who has the TV on too much and feeds him ramen every night. Sure, he won't eat anything else, but maybe a better mother could get him to. She's the one who left him at day care. I'm the one.

Anyway, clearly I'm spiraling over this sleep thing. Parenting is hard. No one who hasn't done it gets it. I feel I have a life in my hands and it's my responsibility to make it his best one. We spend a third of our lives sleeping. That's a lot of time to fuck up.

But, surely all hope is not lost. Surely, I won't be swaying a 60-pound 2nd grader to sleep every night. Surely, we can take charge of this thing and "fix" it--change the routine. It will not be easy with my strong-willed boy. But, if only for his sake, I have to give it my best shot.


  1. We tried crying it out. It kind of worked. Kind of. But not really, and not for long. What did work? We co-sleep. It's what works for us. Maybe not as well as we'd like, but better than anything else has. Keep trying and find what works for you.

    But don't feel guilty if you don't find it right away, because people who find it right away are just luckier at this, not better parents than we are.

    1. Thank you for your commiseration--sometimes I feel we're the only ones with a toddler who doesn't "lie down to sleep when awake."

      Yes, I have to get out of the "blame game." I don't mind co-sleeping, especially when it happens in the middle of the night, for a few hours. The issue for us (and really for my husband more than me) is having a bit of wind-down time and space at the end of the evening/beginning of the night.

      Last night, my husband and I laid down on the floor next to our son's crib and sang and held his hand. After about an hour, he did fall asleep, so we have hope that eventually we can change!