Sleep, Oh Sleep...


We have "done" sleep unconventionally.

I know some people would say that that is why we are now experiencing such trouble sleeping through the night. I'm not sure that is the case.

You see, I believe falling asleep and staying asleep are learned behaviors.

What skills are needed to successfully fall asleep and stay asleep? Well, a baby or child needs to be able to calm themselves, relax their mind and body, and then through the different phases of sleep remain calm and allow themselves to slip back into sleep when prematurely awoken.

That's a lot when you really look at it.

Some babies acquire those skills easily. Others rely heavily on a parent and/or external stimuli to help them. Both are "right".

In our society today we've put so much emphasis on being independent and self-sufficient that we expect that of every baby and toddler across the board. No matter how they come "wired".

Babies come "wired" to cling to momma for safety, for comfort, for cues on how to survive this new wild, rough world they are birthed into.

Our world is rough. Why must sleeping on one's own, in one's own room be so important at so young an age?

It appears at times that the answer to that is determined by a parent's perceived view of what's "right" or safe and a perceived intrusion into or obstruction of an adult relationship and/or physical intimacy.

It seems at times that the individual "giving" in this situation is the one that's least equipped to do so.

This is why I have drug my feet about getting my girls into their own bed.

This is why I have struggled with putting the goal of getting my girls to sleep through the night in their own beds, ahead of the goal of everyone getting a good night's sleep. Even if that means in momma and daddy's bed.

Babies don't keep, they don't breastfeed forever, they don't forever need or want momma only, and they don't seek out the comfort of sleeping with momma and daddy forever.

Soon, much to soon, the baby and toddler will be the ones driving the push to independence and we as parents will be the ones trying to rein that back in. We will be the ones saying, "not so fast", "take it slow", "you have the rest of your life to do adult things".

So savor these "hard times". Savor the foot in the face at night, savor the 4 inches of bed you get, savor the clinging, the neediness, the whimpering call of "momma" in the middle of the night, savor the cuddles, savor the aching muscles that come from a not so great sleeping position and savor this time where you, momma are the one who is sought out for comfort!

Hold steady. You'll make it. Everyone will survive. Sleep will come.