Sunday, 6 January 2013

Dear Daughters - I'm Sick Of You Waking Me Up!

Dear Daughters

Brace yourselves, I have a confession to make. It may or may not surprise you. Here goes...

I don't like being woken up in the night! I REALLY don't like it! I can't stand it!

Maybe you thought it just washed over me - all part of the service - like chopping cheese into chunks or sitting through Waybaloo - well you're wrong. Being woken up and dragged from the delicious depths of sleep two, three, four, five times a night is WAY more irritating than that! WAY MORE! And, quite frankly, I'm bloody well sick of it!

It's not just the nights - which are bad enough - it's the evenings too. For five years now I have had my enjoyment of every single evening compromised in some way, either because I've been trapped in a bedroom breastfeeding, singing, storytelling or simply begging you to go to sleep, or because I've had to abandon my delicious food / fascinating film / other grown-up activity, and go back upstairs to soothe you back to slumber.

And then there's the days. I used to be bright eyed, sparky, witty even. I used to have a 'To Do List', and do the stuff on it. Now my face is as grey and puffy as my brain and I cry when I can't find a matching pair of socks. You might think that all I need is a good night's sleep, but deep down I know that this state of insane confusion is becoming The Way I Roll and that I'm slowly morphing into a Mad Middle Aged Woman. This is how it happens.

Yes, dear girls, the days, the evenings, the nights - all a chaotic blend of mind-numbing sleep deprivation, dreams that are never finished, and constantly, completely fucking irritating interruption. But do you know what? All of it is just a teeny tiny tip of the most enormous iceberg of what I would do for you.

For as long as I am alive, if you need me, I will come, no matter how much it inconveniences or even irritates me. Call me in the middle of the night from a train station four hundred miles away, and I will jump in my car without question. Get sick and I will camp on the cold hospital floor for as long as it takes. Without hesitation I will empty the bank, I will cut off limbs, I will turn my back on friends, I will serve time, I will move to a new country, I will lay down my life. No matter how old you are, or what the situation, I will be there.

Which kind of makes missing the end of the film while I pop upstairs to soothe you back to sleep seem like nothing much really.

For some reason I can't quite fathom, not everyone sees it this way. Being a 'parenting blogger' who speaks out against sleep training makes me a sort of 'High Profile Softie', and sometimes a target for people who think I should be treating you differently. Their arguments, often put forward angrily in blog comments, all seem to boil down to two essential points:

1. Letting you continue to disturb my sleep means I am ignoring my own needs.
2. Responding to your cries round the clock is 'spoiling' you and teaching you that the world revolves around you. You will grow into a selfish person with no boundaries and probably end up in prison.

Let's quickly deal with these points, firstly -

1. Ignoring my needs? My 'need' is to respond to you, to be there for you, to comfort you, to mother you. While you are small, and vulnerable, and dependent, I actually want to provide you with all the reassurance I can that you are 100% safe and loved. Doing so brings me great fulfilment. I absolutely know that this solid start will stand you in good stead as you grow and move away from me into the world, which brings me to -

2. Responding to a small child's needs day and night does NOT create a fragile adult destined for a difficult life, rather it provides a secure foundation, a strong sense of self-worth, and an ability to find comfort in healthy places - essential for long term mental well-being. If you actually talk to people who are finding life hard - prisoners, addicts, the mentally unwell - you will struggle to find any of them who say, "If only my parents hadn't been so responsive, so loving, so consistently warm and kind to me, 24/7".

And so, dear daughters, I will continue to be there for you at night as well as in the day, and ignore the critics, the baby trainers, the journalists and the researchers who say 'Shut the door and let them learn to sleep alone'.

I confess, I don't like having my sleep interrupted, not one bit, but I know that - for now - you need me, and I need to be there for you.

By the way, I really can't stand the Soft Play Area, either.

It's amazing what you'll suffer for someone you really love.


- - -



You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

Dr. Seuss




20 comments:

  1. Ha! I love the soft pastry in my husband's pies and so does my daughter so she gets them every time!!

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    1. Yesterday my partner cooked some really spicy chicken and some milder for the girls. My youngest daughter preferred the spicy one and ate loads off my plate. I had to let her do it but it nearly killed me! ;-) x

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  2. You have made two points that are never made loudly enough and need to be. Too many parents go into parenting with too little information about the sacrifices involved in being a good parent. This information gap will be quickly closed for any parent reading your comments.

    First you describe just how taxing, exhausting and demanding the daily grind of parenting can be and you do this in a way that is impossible to miss. Reading your post I actually started to feel myself becoming agitated and irritable as you described the relentless demands that children can place on parents.


    Secondly in meeting the demands of your children the way you do, with little regard for how inconvenient it might be, you make very clear what it means to put your child first. The more parents who are able to make the sacrifices needed to do this the happier are children will be.

    Thanks you for making these points and making them so well.

    George

    http://parentingdilemma.blogspot.com/

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  3. I love this. You have perfectly summed up what it is to be a parent, and I'm not even sure that responding to children's needs should really be classed as 'sacrifices' but I agree with the previous comment that there is very little wide-spread information on what is involved in parenting, and posts like this help to redress this.
    By the way, I'm totally with you on soft play areas but Waybuloo? I actually like it!

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    1. Thanks!
      You really like Waybuloo?! It makes my teeth itch! x

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  4. Thank you for this. I am shedding a few tears because I am also sporting the zombie look at the moment and struggling but this has helped confirm that I am making the right choices for my daughter. And I'd rather not sleep than let my child suffer. The pain I would experience then would be much greater

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    1. Agreed x
      Always deeply suspicious of parents of small children who look 'fresh'. Something's amiss! ;-) x

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  5. Wonderful...could have been written by me but you've done it much better ;)

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    1. Thanks so much, that is very kind x

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  6. Totally could have written this about my son. Also, I'm glad my son shunned Waybaloo in favour of Peppa Pig. I love Peppa Pig.

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    1. Ah you got lucky there. But then there are the ad breaks, oh dear. You have to really love your child to let them have some of the hideous toys on offer! x

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing this, I needed to hear this, to laugh about the truth & tear about the greater good that comes from this current exhaustion. <3

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  8. Grow into a selfish person because your mother was so empathetic and caring and unselfish? How does that work? From where, exactly, do people think children learn their behaviour?

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    1. Yes, it's weird. Part of the same strange set of beliefs that also includes - push your child away when they are being 'clingy' and they will get more independent. Odd logic.

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    2. They must think it's partly genetic, and partly a conscious choice that an older child or adult makes. Or that they simply weren't punitive or neglectful enough when the child was a baby! Haha, I don't know. It is some logic.

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  9. this made me laugh so hard. the other day I was talking to my oldest who is turning 10 y.o. this month. I was telling her how she would wake up in the middle of the night and sing, " Moooommmyyyy! Mommmmyyy!" over and over again until I would go to her room. She would be smiling from ear to ear (at 2 or 3 or 4 am) for no reason. I would ask her "what did she want." and she would just smile and keep repeating Mommyyy, mommmy... at first, that would make me very angry and distressed. Like you I did not like to be awaken in the middle of the night. But then having no other option I would lay down with her and fall asleep there. For some reason little ones like to do that in the middle of the night. I wonder if they are just testing our love. My other kids followed suit... they would wake up hungry. A better mOm now I would get up fix them a waffle, orange juice, we would sit and watch a few minutes of cartoon together until they fell asleep. NO more cranky mom. Just enjoying because soon they will be grown and I won't be cuddling next to their chubby warm body anymore. Oh, life!!! :)

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  10. Thank you for this! A bit teary reading, because yes we would do anything for our children. So why does getting up in the middle of the night to comfort them become so controversial? Sooo tired with an almost ten month old who still sleeps in my bed and wakes every 1.5-2 hours. But as far as I'm concerned there is no other alternative because like you said- i need to be there for her! I love your blog. It always gives me renewed strength and comfort.

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    1. Thanks RJ - sorry you are so tired. I really have been there - TWICE! And about to do it for the third time. Dreading it in many ways, as it really does try you, but you do get through it, I promise. Actually since I wrote this post my second daughter has started sleeping through almost every night. She is still next to me - she is 2 and a half - I haven't changed anything, it just happened.
      Good luck - you are doing the right thing and won't regret it for a second xxxx

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