First of all, I feel proud that it is Saturday, and I am writing this post “on time.”
This Guilt-Free Saturday, I would like to talk about sleep-or lack of it. As in, your child’s sleep is the priority, the curfew, the dictator, in so many ways, while yours is…hmmm. See, I can’t think of a witty comparison because I am currently running on four-ish broken hours of sleep.
That being said, where am I going with this?
Let’s start with some irreverent humor about kids and sleeping. Do you know this book?
If not, you should check it out here.
If this doesn’t offend you, you should then proceed to watch Samuel L. Jackson actually read the book out loud.
Sleep, I feel, is the first measuring rod of how “good” of a parent you are- and how “good” of a baby you have. The first thing you are asked is, “Are they sleeping through the night?” if you can say yes…it’s like the first gold star.
But the issue is murky, quirky, and full of pitfalls the deeper you go into it. Where does your baby sleep? With you? Near you? Safely ensconced in a crib? You don’t nurse her to sleep, do you? You answer every cry, right? You better be teaching your baby to self-soothe…and on, and on, and on. And for every scenario, there is an expert, a book, a bounce, a blanket, and someone telling you that what you did/are doing/want to do is wrong, or damaging, or spoiling your baby, or turning him or her into an unattached psychopath. And you? You just, at the end of the day, I bet, just want your kid to go the f*ck to sleep. I know I do. In fact, after last night’s two hour midnight “chat” session, I would add that I just want her to STAY asleep.
Quite frankly, I have had enough of the sleep wars. I really do suffer from baby sleep guilt. As opposed to my first two Guilt Free Saturday posts, which were sort of mom power liberation essays, I am here to confess that I feel sleep guilt with my child no matter what I do.
This is why:
1. She is, and has always been, a heavy sleeper on a regular schedule. And I take advantage of that for my own gain (i.e. the night we put her to sleep in her carseat at a loud chain steakhouse).
2. I don’t co-sleep. But I want to. And sometimes I do.
3. Sometimes I let her cry herself to sleep when it’s naptime. Just writing that makes me want to apologize and explain myself (I call this Dr.Sears-specific guilt).
4. I am pretty rigorous with her bedtime routine. This means sometimes she doesn’t see her dad at night due to his work schedule. Which makes both of them sad.
It’s like no matter what I do, I can’t win.
And my child IS a good sleeper! I shouldn’t feel guilty at all.
But yet I do.
And resentful; because when she does have a rough night (teething, cold, night terror), or when she is going through one of her “up with the chickens” phases, she takes a two hour nap after a leisurely morning.
I, (and her dad- I don’t fight my sleep wars alone, thank goodness) on the other hand, go to work. And do chores. And make her food. And, you know, do other parental and grown up things. I go through the day thinking, “where is MY two hour nap?”
Not that I ever take one. I am not a napper. Nor am I a good sleeper.
I refer to coffee as my “life elixir.”
I am encouraging you, on this Guilt-Free Saturday, to give yourself a break about whatever you do-or don’t do-to get your baby-and yourself-to sleep.
In other words, give the sleep guilt a rest.