I must be one of the most selfish people I know.
I’ve turned this over and over in my head hundreds of times and there’s just no other explanation. All the inner (and outer) conflict I have when it comes to parenting all boils down to what works best… for me.
I’m sure every mother experiences pangs of “Am I doing this right?” Most moms, I think, probably choose a side in the Mommy Wars and stick to it – sleeping, feeding, working… you name it. From time to time, we all have our doubts but deep down, we’re all so invested in the “side” we’ve chosen that it becomes impossible to see how the other side might have some merit.
Case in point: On Monday, I read Her Bad Mother’s post on how she surrendered the sleep battle, ceding to her son’s obvious need for a little nighttime comfort. The post was incredibly well-written and I highly recommend clicking on over. But it wasn’t the prose that rocked my world. It was the fact that she surrendered.
Catherine’s been writing about sleep a lot. And I had always thought we were in the same boat. On the same side. And then just like that, poof, she decides it’s not worth the fight anymore. That her son needs her, and recognizing that one day she’ll look back on these days of neediness with longing, she decided to let him have his way.
I don’t know if it was her way with words that gave me pause, her reasoning or the resounding responses in the comment section, but she actually got ME to rethink the whole sleep thing. My girl does need me. All she wants is her mommy to hold her, comfort her and reassure her. She’s 2. What’s so wrong with that?
And yes, while it would be difficult to let her spend the night with us, it wouldn’t be forever. She’s not going to come home after a date in high school and crawl into our bed.
So what’s my real motivation for insisting on sticking to the sleep-training/crying it out method when it’s obviously not working for us? Am I trying to teach her independence and good sleep habits, or am I just trying desperately (and in vain) to return to a time before she was born, when the evening began at 7 pm sharp?
Of course there’s the argument that if I don’t get at least some sleep, I’m not in the best state of mind to be a good mother. A patient mother. An understanding mother.
A fun mother.
But on the other hand, she wants me. Maybe even needs me. And I’m the only one she’s got. It’s not like she’s chock full of options of other people to turn to to provide for her.
I’m her mother.
And right now, I’m feeling a little lost.