The Holy Grail of Parenthood (and why you can keep it)

by renegademama

Four days ago Georgia decided she was no longer interested in “self-soothing.”

What do I mean by that? Well, she stopped going to sleep by herself in her crib.

Maybe it’s because she was sick. Maybe it’s because she’s 2 years, 3 months and 28 days, when that One Developmental Thing happens that causes that one behavior we’re all terrified of, when, rather than passing out on her own, the baby demands YOU.

She was crying in her crib. She was launching herself out of her crib. She was screaming “MAMA!”

My keen deductive reasoning skills lead me to the profound conclusion that what she wanted was ME. And so, as I’ve done with all my kids, I picked her up, brought her into bed with me, and fell asleep.

But as I was doing this seemingly benign task, the voices came, as they ALWAYS DO in moments like this:

“But, she’ll NEVER sleep in her crib again!”

“She’ll NEVER go to sleep alone again!”

“She’ll forget how to get herself to sleep and she’ll always need me every single night and I’ll never sleep again or have sex or enjoy my life until eventually I stick my head in an oven Sylvia-Plath style because I can’t face the misery of my own existence!”

MY GOD she’ll forget to SELF-SOOTHE!!!”

But, as I’ve also always done (though I do it better now and with more confidence), I joyfully tell the voices to go fuck themselves then go about my business. I do whatever the hell I want, with my baby, in the manner that feels right to me. And in this instance, it felt right to pick up the baby crying in her crib, the baby who has put herself to sleep for months now (in a glorious, simplified process she established herself (she’s my only kid to do that, FYI)) – it felt right to “risk” obliterating our ethereal bedtime routine, and curl up beside her in my bed, where we kissed each other and said “I love you” about nine thousand times, between my “firm declarations” that it really is time for “nigh-nigh.”

Why? Because WHY THE HELL NOT? I felt like it.

A reader of this blog, Mel, sent me an email describing “self-soothing” as the “holy grail of parenthood.” (Someday I shall travel to Australia and she and I will meet and be friends.) And indeed it is. Like if you attain Full Self-soothing Status, you have reached the pinnacle of maternal existence, the Promised Land – the Eden of parenthood, where each night is joy, and each morning a radiant sunrise.

But if you don’t reach that place, if your kid is one of the hundreds of freaking thousands, like my first and second, and Georgia for the past 4 days, who needs boob to sleep, or rocking, or bouncing, or some delicately balanced, insane combination of all those things

YOU HAVE FAILED.

You didn’t teach them to soothe themselves. You lose.

You could have done it when they were younger, but you didn’t, and now that ship has sailed, so – it sucks to be you.

Basically, you’re fucked. Throw in the parenting towel, homie, cause it’s over for you.

What you should do is get online and read the gloating stories of the women who established perfect sleep routines with their baby right outta the gate! (resulting in a toddler who now puts himself to sleep every night, blissfully soothing himself into slumber, with nary a squeak!)

And compare their experiences to your own, the hour-long bedtime rocking routine, the co-sleeping, the marathon nursing, the midnight soothing sessions. The toddler, in your bed, again, with a foot in your mouth.

And beat the hell out of yourself. Just really go at it. Your failures. Your inadequacy for having “created” one of the those “clingy” dependent models.

Or, you can tell the voices to go fuck themselves and go about your business, realizing the Worst Possible Outcome of a baby who won’t self-soothe is that you will be doing the soothing, possibly for 2 years or so, but really? Here’s the thing:

Why is that such a big deal?

I’ve never fully understood it, why we’re all so desperate to not soothe our kids.

Sleep deprivation? Um, yeah. Sleep deprivation comes whether or not your baby “self-soothes.”

Irritating bedtime routines? ARE THERE ANY OTHERS?

Teaching independence? Bullshit. You can read my feelings on that Dr. Spock drivel HERE.

Because my child is trying to control me and I must make it clear that I’m boss! Double bullshit. See above re: Spock.

Because if I put the work in NOW, I’ll never have a tough night again? Wrong. Just when you think you know you’re kid’s routine, he’ll change it.

Private time in the evenings? Sorry, but that particular ship really has sailed. Or it will, once you have more than one kid (and that will be why you stay up until 2am every night, which will in effect render your baby’s “self-soothing” useless, since you aren’t sleeping anyway.)

It’s going to go on forever, because once I establish this dynamic my kid will NEVER EVER go to bed on their own, which will leave me in the awkward situation of trying to rock a 15-year-old girl in the rocking chair. I mean, how will she even FIT?

Oh, right. That’s it. That’s the clincher. They don’t do this forever.

They won’t need it forever.

They need it for a year or two. Maybe three?

And yeah, we’ll be tired. And yeah, we’ll look at them some nights and just beg them to go the fuck to sleep. And yeah, some nights we’ll go SCREW THIS and we’ll put the toddler in the crib and let her wail, because seriously, what the hell kid?

I can’t take it anymore.

And we’ll curse the day we ever had kids, and we’ll wish this shit would end, and we’ll feel like it will never end.

Until one day you wake up and your baby is 11 years old, standing by your bedside whispering “Mama, I know Santa isn’t real,” and you think back to her little foot in your mouth and the way she used to reach her arm across the bed to touch your skin, or toss herself against you to nurse, when she was too old for that kind of thing, and should have been “self-soothing.”

And the next night, when your two-year-old “perfect sleeper” suddenly yearns for her mama’s bed, to have her face against her mom’s bare chest, you’ll feel a little relieved, to have a couple more days, a couple more days with a baby who just won’t self-soothe.

absolutely no self-soothing up in here…

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more stuff I shouldn't have said out loud:

  • Melanie

    Exactly. Thank you!

       3 likes

  • Lori

    I actually got tears in my eyes while reading this. Good on ya.

       9 likes

  • Katie

    YES. Love this, and needed to read this today of all days. Thanks.

       4 likes

  • Marisa

    Yup!

       2 likes

  • Claire

    This brought tears to my eyes. My 4 year old wont go to sleep with out me and most nights I just want to jump out the second floor window but then I remember my 9 year old telling me he doesn’t need snuggles anymore, and I chill out.

       5 likes

  • Mel

    Bloody hell, I feel famous! Yep, no self-soothing up in this house either and I don’t freakin care. Maybe I should get that on a t-shirt which I can wear around those family and friends (some of them childless) who give me dire warnings. Bad habits? Bollocks! She’s 6 months old! I firmly believe, too, that how a kid sleeps is largely a function of their own little individual self. I like the idea of sharing all the shits and giggles of parenthood rather than competing to see who can ‘train’ their kid(s) to be the least possible inconvenience.

       14 likes

  • Rebekah

    I love this and I love you ! My kids are 12 and 9 years old now… and one of the things I miss the most about them being babies are our days of co-sleeping.It is over in a flash, and i think people who are against it ought to come suck my big toe.

       3 likes

  • Stefanie

    Do you have any idea how much I love you and your blog? I am so thankfully that you say what so many think – put it out there and make sense of it, in words! My baby is 2, some nights she sleeps with us, some nights she doesn’t… I do not force the issue on either side because one day, I will miss her in my bed, fists and knees to the face, leaky diapers and all… so I will do my best to embrace it all, the good, the bad, the ugly while I can!

       3 likes

  • Shannah

    I say SUCK-IT to all the people that roll their eyes when they find out all my kids slept with me as infants and yes, hold your breath: toddlers(that also goes for those of you that waned to dictate the amount of time I breast feed my kids). Oh yes, I the evil parent who is damaging their kids by hugging them, making them feel safe and loved. Yes, it is crappy to wake up all the time to nurse. Yes, it is a pain in the ass now that my 4 year old still wants to sleep with me. But I look at my 11 year old who is a well adjusted kid who doesn’t seem to have any emotional problems (teens are still up for grabs), loves her sisters and is an awesome friend. Good for you if your kid slept through the night right away. To be honest, I’m jealous, but if they don’t who cares. Plop them next to you and get some sleep and few cuddles.

       2 likes

  • The Gym B

    Same ****, different day about my kid with the pacifier. Do you see a lot of adults walking around with one? What-f**king-ever. He’ll lose it when he needs to. Love you baby. One (and I mean only one) advantage to the twins — they seem to be content hanging out with each other. So far . . .

       1 likes

  • Jack

    Welp, that’s me tearing up now as I nurse my pissed-off 7-month-old to sleep on the boob in the gazillionth attempt to get him to take a nap he so clearly needs why can’t he see it oh my god why can’t I put him down for a single moment of nap ever I’ve sabotaged all my future happiness because the child will not sleep except being held why why why didn’t I put him down more as a newborn….

    I’m not alone, by god.

       4 likes

  • Chasity

    I am always saying it, childhood is short. Why waste it stressing out about how much they sleep at night. Why not go with the flow? You never will get this chance again. Never. Someday you will be an Empty Nester and you will be sitting in your bed wishing you had a child who wanted to wake you up and cuddle. Sleep derivation? So what! Don’t have kids if you want to sleep. Part of being a parent is sacrifice. You will sacrifice sleep, money and many other things. This is short very short. Enjoy every moment!

       5 likes

  • Beth

    Sometimes, when I can’t sleep because of all the demon voices in my head reminding me that I still haven’t lesson planned for tomorrow, or graded the 57 papers I’ve had for over a week now, or gone grocery shopping, or gassed up the car, I creep down the hall to my girl’s room and I crawl into bed with her and I am soothed.

    I am only happy to repay the favor.

       12 likes

  • KidLit aka Tracey!

    Wow. Your kiddo is only 3 months younger than mine. :0o Never thought of self soothing as the Holy Grail of parenting, but in a sick way, it is! Why? I don’t understand. I get it, but I don’t understand. I have gone through every self conversation… no argument… you mentioned. Every scenario. Every.. every.. Ya. I get it. And I hate it. I love layin’ with my baby. Sometimes. We nap together still. I am not giving that up until she is unable to nap or she goes to preschool and does it with out me. It’s my patch. She still won’t go to sleep with me out of the room. Oh, I had a few days of victory. It was then she decided that, if she couldn’t sleep in my bed, she was going to sleep in Sissy’s Bed. Luckily, Sissy is ok with that. I’m ok with it too. Even ditchin’ her toddler bed as a statement of solidarity. That and… we need the space. It’s short lived. She won’t sleep with Sissy forever. Just as she won’t nap with me forever. Best naps I’ve ever had. Soakin’ them in while I still can. Feelin’ better that I’m not alone in my mental struggle over it. Maybe now I can change out what our personal Holy Grail of Parenting is. But then again, maybe not. Catch me next time I’m screamin’ “Go the FUCK to Sleep!”

       1 likes

  • Suzanne

    Thank you for this….sometimes I forget how short of time we have with our little ones and then they become too independent to cuddle with us. This is the best post I have read in a long time….it hit home with me :)

       2 likes

  • Suzanne

    Do you ever wonder how many of those kids who’s mothers read Dr. Spock religiously (my mother) now have abandonment issues from being forced to “self-soothe?” I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Good for you for saying fuck the voices and doing what you need to do for your child.

       1 likes

  • Sara

    Yes. Everything you said, yes. Thank you.

       0 likes

  • Amber

    I’ve been reading you for a while, and this… this post is my favorite. I have the kids who don’t like to sleep without me and I’ve had the conversations with myself about how I suck because I didn’t set them strait early on. But I still love waking up in the morning to them breathing next to me and I still love holding my 3 year old son close to my breast and feeling his sweet warmth. And it’s not going to last forever and then I’m going to be devastated by it’s loss… so WTF!! I’m insane… and sleep deprived… and insane…

       1 likes

  • Dee

    you’ve obviously been in my head again. Mine is two years, two months and 3 days and has never been able to self-soothe. I do beat myself up over what I did wrong, and sometimes just can’t handle how much time and effort it takes to get her to sleep at night, or even for naps. And then I tell everyone else that she’s just not a sleeper. That and I can’t handle the endless screaming of a baby who just wants to be held and loved and cuddled and nursed. Hopefully she’ll come up with her own magic bedtime routine soon, but will still enjoy the occasional treat of sleeping in my bed. Occasional.

       1 likes

  • Angela

    Great. I am crying at work again. My only son is just Georgia’s age. He has been in his bed for almost two months now, but I nurse and rock him to sleep and hop in his bed every morning. This morning we gave Eskimo kisses and giggled when we were supposed to be getting up and getting ready for work and daycare. I know I will miss this so much when he won’t let me Eskimo kiss him anymore.

       0 likes

  • Vanessa

    This is one of those issues that if you make the mistake of going on babycenter and read the comments, you will see a lot of ugliness on both sides, unfortunately. The thing is, I know people all along the spectrum of cosleeping and crying it out, and they all have good, happy kids. What I take from that is in the long run it doesn’t matter so much if your kid cries in her crib or gets in your bed, and we should just do what feels right for us and our families. We are going to feel guilty no matter what we do, and we are going to miss our little babies when they grow up no matter what we did or how fussy they were, so again, let’s all just try to live in the moment and do what feels best. I personally have abandonment issues because my mother actually abandoned me when I was 2. It doesn’t matter that she breastfed on demand or fed me homemade baby food and carried me in a snuggli as an infant. Those are all great things, but in terms of loving our children and raising good people, those are the small things. Sorry – this has been a rant and a half. My point is, let’s all give ourselves a break, and let’s give other moms a break while we’re at it.

       4 likes

  • Mom of 5

    YES…so much YES! My 6yr old son has been the one out of all my kiddos that has been super attached, and don’t get me wrong here…I ADORE him, but he is in a bit of a ..um…”gross” boy stage! :) I love him to pieces but why do his hands have to live down his pants?! o.o … So the whole time he is in my bed I’m thinking…please just don’t put your hands by my face…darling little child! ;) but seriously I am a firm believer in loving your babies as much as possible. I was the breastfeeding mom that had my baby attached to me every second, and all I got was crap from other mom’s about it. Like hell I am going to let my 2 week old baby cry just so I can teach them that I will not be there to meet their needs. BULLSHIT! I have older kids also and know how it works. They grow up, and then they choose to be around you because they want to. If you push them away when they need you, they may not want to be around when they don’t need you anymore. No one else in this world will love them or see them as I do. They will have many disappointments and many hardships just the way we all do. It is NOT going to start with me!!! I want to be the safe place…the place that they know they can come, and I WILL be here. I will hug them and squeeze them until they can’t stand it anymore. <3 Janelle…you are an inspiration!

       0 likes

  • Becky

    I love you! You are so amazing with words. I have co-slept with all 4 of my kids and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! People always look at me funny, but I don’t care. They are only young for a short time. So I may miss a little sleep, but it is well worth it to me.

       2 likes

  • Shan

    Mad self-soothed from four months on and, in a huge show of jackassery, Tom and I self-congratulated every night. And talked waaaay too much about how great she was at sleeping and how smart we were to figure out the routine that matched her as a person and us as parents.

    No need to punch us in the junk. Fynnie has spent the last 29 months reminding us that she is not our stunt monkey, routines are for big sissies (named Madelyn… see how I did that? bahaha) and sleeping all night long without booboo is cruel and unusual punishment. We get it now. Balloon is burst. Little fragments all around. I need a nap.

       3 likes

  • Margaret

    The only reason some mothers worry about a baby’s inability to ‘self-soothe’ is because they want their child to be considered the perfect child, i.e., “my child is superior because it always self-soothes”; “or, what is wrong with me if my child cannot self-soothe!?” This and all other overtly egocentric parenting advice is all about the mother’s ego: “I am so wonderful that of course my child must be perfect in every way, and I will do anything to prove it.” And hell to pay if the child isn’t. That poor little bugger will get tugged through all sorts of mothering theories until he/she finally gets put on ritalin and other behavior modifying drugs. When indeed, the truth is, some of us are born with trickier wiring than others, some of us are born fussy and not very likeable, some of us are born introverted and weird and not popular on the playground. Suck it up, Mom, because that’s just the truth and no amount of perfected mommy-ing is going to change it. That’s the thing about being a mother: Loving your child unconditionally is the hardest thing you’ll ever do well.

       2 likes

  • Heidi

    My son in 3 1/2 and his “self-soothing” instrument of choice is still grabbing my boob. He puts his hand down my shirt and cups away to his heart’s content. When he turned three I tried to put the kabash on it for a while, mostly so other people wouldn’t think he was one of those breastfeeding “sickie” children who are “too attached” to their mothers. But then I realized, he is one day soon going to abruptly be grossed out by the very thought of it, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop him from doing the thing that makes him feel close to me, the very breasts thru which he was nursed into a beautiful healthy child and thru which we first bonded. So, in essence, hell yeah.

       2 likes

  • Katie Vyktoriah

    As I’m about to pop out another kid in less than 12 weeks and have a nearly 22 month old who has never self soothed a day in his life, thanks for this. It perfectly sums up how I feel. I don’t understand people who want their kids to be super independent so early. I cherish the cuddles and love. Sure it’s frustrating that I have to bring him into bed with me each night, and I AM quite worried what’s going to happen when the new baby arrives and I’ll be dealing with TWO boys who want to be wrapped in mama’s arms, but what a first world problem to have, eh? “Oh no, my beautiful children love me far too much and want to kiss and cuddle me all the time!” Boo hoo. I know it won’t last forever, and I’m already panicking that Dexter reached the milestone this weekend of actually running off without us in the mall, never once looking back to see if we were behind him. At least I can hold on to THIS a while longer…

       1 likes

  • Bonnie

    We are a co-sleeping family. Calleigh requires “hug-its” and “wubbins”, over and over and not necessarily in that order! “Wubbin head mommy, wubbin hand mommy” And once in awhile, I get totally cranky about it. Like “I’m never gonna have my own life. Never gonna just sit on the sofa and just read. Never gonna have copious amounts of sex just because it’s Saturday night, etc”. Ok, I have a beautiful family…that is my life. I am not going to read on the sofa anyway, I am going to pass out & drool on my pillow. The copious amounts of sex, well, see the pass out & drool on my pillow option. I relish my “hug-its” & “wubbins”. My child has probably slept a full night on her own maybe 10 times total. Ever! And my old school friends & family members scold me & tut-tut me because I have created a “monster”, a “master manipulator”. When really all I have done is created a snuggle bunny, a little girl who loves to lay in bed or on the sofa w/us. When given the option in the morning of getting up or snuggling, she chooses snuggling every.single.time. And I pray to God that it lasts forever.

       0 likes

  • Cat

    Totally! I just put that my son slept through for once, he’s 20 months, been teething, my friend said she was obviously doing well because her son, who is merely weeks old, has been sleeping through for 3 weeks!!! This is because she left him to cry, and isn’t breastfeeding. I didn’t want to write a pissed off reply but I couldn’t help it! My other half even tries to get me to leave him to cry, and I will, sometimes, when I know he’s ok and will go back to sleep within a max of 5 minutes, but when I know he’s not ok I will not leave him, despite my other half thinking that he must be ok because he was in the day!

       1 likes

  • Natalie

    One of THE best pieces ever written about the shite that is self soothing….great piece and made me laugh because am over the seriousness and life long threats about your “babies sleep problems”….they are BABIES!

       1 likes

  • Tina

    Halleluja to this! All of it. This post made me laugh so much, because I see myself in it. How angry I got (and sometimes still get) about my evenings spent lying next to them, the late nights because I haven’t had time to myself all day, the mornings when I think I just can’t take it anymore, because I’m so sleep-deprived.
    But as you said, “It won’t be forever!” Definitely.

       0 likes

  • Jen L

    Totally love this- you tell it how it is. Really brought tears to my eyes. And made me laugh. All at the same time.

       0 likes

  • heather

    seriously we must have drank from the same kool-aide today– my fb post…

    Having two kids, one who slept through the night at 8 wks and one who didn’t until he was one year, I have some sad news to share… Read all the books about sleep, babywise, happy sleep habits, the no cry sleep solution and then if you have a bad sleeper like little dude realize baby sleep is an enigma and every kid is different. Why do you think there is a whole shelf of books at the bookstore? It surely isn’t a science — end vent. (Due to reading another pin about baby sleep, that guaranteed a kid to sleep through the night by 8 weeks, laughable. Just as funny as the idea that kids are potty trained in 3 days ;-))

       0 likes

  • Brin

    I read this at 4:00am, up with my 6 month old twins. I cannot thank you enough! After 24 hours of trying to “cry it out,” following 6 months of shitty sleep, I was feeling completely mental. I think you just single handedly gave me enough motivation to keep getting up with my monsters for another few months. You rock.

       0 likes

  • Christi

    Thank you, Gosh darn it… now I am balling and I needed that. I f-ing love my kids and I do what feels right and I HATE being judged for that shit!

       0 likes

  • Joelle

    Yes! I could hug you right now. You’ve just gained a new, loyal reader.

       0 likes

    • renegademama

      yay! glad to have ya!

         0 likes

  • Lana

    I’m coming late to the party here but you couldn’t be more spot on Sista. Both my babies slept with us when they needed to. One until she was 5. They are both lovely, well adjusted young adults today. I think bAck to the shit I took from family and friends at how I was ruining my life and theirs….but we were all sleeping! How can that be wrong?

       1 likes

  • amanda

    Holy shit… this is wildly refreshing. I just found your blog and am so thankful. It can be incredibly lonely doing the best you can when all you hear is how it’s wrong. Thanks for the reminder that there are other moms out there who love the crap outta their kids and are crazy enough to share a bed with them. Now I’m off to go relate to more of your posts.

       1 likes

  • Diana Bisares

    I’m not all worried about my baby learning to self-soothe. I super LOVE sleeping with him. The crib we bought was useless. He used it for like 3 days, when he was still 2-week old. I gave up the crib not because he couldn’t sleep, but I couldn’t sleep! haha!

    Laughed at this, by the way:
    “And yeah, we’ll be tired. And yeah, we’ll look at them some nights and just beg them to go the fuck to sleep. And yeah, some nights we’ll go SCREW THIS and we’ll put the toddler in the crib and let her wail, because seriously, what the hell kid?”

    I felt the same, and still do when I’m so tired with all the day’s work and here he is, playing without any sign that he’s going to sleep anytime soon!

    I’m now a BIG fan of yours. :)

       0 likes

  • Laura

    Totally. Every time you think you’ve got it all worked out, they change! We had bedtime down to a science. Then suddenly, at 2yo, he wouldn’t settle til way late. Took some messing around w/naps to get things worked out again. And I can’t tell you how many nights he’s snuggled in our bed. I enjoy the occasional night time snuggle now. I miss those night feedings we had when he was 2 months old.

       0 likes

  • Kari

    Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head, dear girl. Today, while out with my mum and my third baby girl, two ladies asked how old my sweetie is. One, I answered. “Does she sleep through?” both ladies asked at almost the same time. No, I answered confidenty, I don’t make sleepers. None of mine are great sleepers. Oh, the judgement! But those middle of the might parenting moments are some of my favorite. Yes, I’d LOVE to fucking sleep, but this time is so fleeting. So I chant my mantra: no one ever died of exhaustion (yet), swing my legs out of bed, and snuggle my sweet girls. Hopefully they will always let me!
    Thanks for your articles, Janelle. You make me laugh and cry with every post!

       0 likes

  • Heather

    A slightly different angle for you all…I love this post but am in a different space than most of you. My 9 month old is not a great sleeper, at night or for naps. I thought I would cosleep, but have really been unable to. I don’t sleep, like really very little. I don’t know why or what to do about it…so, I have been a nutcase trying to make my baby more self-soothing bc I desperately need sleep. Every mom I know co-sleeps and judges the fact that I put my baby in a crib alone. So where I’m going with this is…you do what works for you and it changes when the baby decides it should change and we should all leave each other alone for our choices. The babies/toddlers will be fine, regardless of our choices.

    Okay, now I’m going to brace myself for another two years of this…thx for the reminder that it doesn’t last forever and I’ll miss it when it’s gone. I’ll try to think that way when little man is standing in his crib instead of sleeping, after a drawn out bedtime process that has taken an hour. Ergh.

       3 likes

  • emma

    Yes yes love the blog bith my boys slept with.me and everyone I nearly spoke to looked at me like I was a alien or something My eldest us 7 skeeps in his own bed now but know he can xone to.mine when he needs to. My youngest who is 3 in august has always sleot euth me I have no problem with it so no obe else shoukd. The only bumner is when he is having one of those night where he wobt go to sleeo and I have uni wirk to do, oh well nevermind. Live the true honesty in your words cheers for sharing from the uk :-)

       0 likes

  • Leslie

    My son and daughter will be 30 and 27, respectively, this year.

    They slept in our family bed as infants because that’s the way it worked best for everyone. They slept in the family bed as toddlers, because that’s how we all got enough sleep, cuddles, stories, and connection as our family got busier. They crept into my bed as preschoolers when they were sick, scared, sad, sleepless, or feeling like talking to Mom.

    When their father and I split up, the kids and I curled up in bed together on Sunday nights, after their weekend away with Dad. We read, talked, cuddled, cried, argued, fell asleep feeling reconnected during a difficult time. As preteens and young teenagers, they would pat the side of their bed, inviting me to com sit, to lie down beside them at the end of the day. To talk, to read together, to connect.

    They are all grown up. They are strong, loving, compassionate, resourceful, independent, successful, happy, healthy, funny, lovely, loving, respected, respectful, political, busy, imaginative – and self soothing – wonderful people.

    Just sayin’

       1 likes

  • Maaike

    My philosophy: I am pretty sure they will … when they are eighteen. Just fill in the blanks.

    I am pretty sure they will sleep through the night when they are eighteen.
    I am pretty sure he can eat his own dinner when he is eighteen.
    I am pretty sure he can use the potty when he is eighteen.

    So… I am pretty sure she can self-soothe when she is eighteen.

    Problem solved! Keep cuddlin’!

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  • Sophie

    You know, every now and then I come back to read this post. It reminds me why I haven’t slept a single full night for almost 2 years now. It helps me go to bed without and resentment of my toddler crying for me every 3 hours for a few more nights. It soothes my sleep deprived thoughts…how scary they can get when that little booger is teething! To that I say thank you. I will be back to read this exact text again with by bloodshot eyes, not sure when but I will. See you then.

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    • renegademama

      Thank you for this. Things like this keep me writing — just knowing I’m helping somebody. Thanks again.

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  • Josh

    I just don’t get why parents need to be so self-righteous about this, whichever camp they’re in. You want to take your kid into bed with you? Fine. But inevitably this kind of blog post turns into a moral critique of the people who DO try to “establish sleep habits” or whatever you want to call it. They’re cold, selfish and uptight, caring more about not being “inconvenienced” by their children than about their secure attachment with their precious baby (as though having a sleep routine means having a child no longer makes your life considerably more challenging).

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    • Sophie

      Josh, if only it was about trying to establish sleep habits. I have 2 daughters, one that’s been sleeping through the night, by herself since month 2 of her life. Awesome. The second daughter is 16 months old and if she wakes up twice a night, it’s a great one! Sometimes “sleep training” is not an option (my 2nd child gets the midnight munchies, she has a wicked fast metabolism, so I feed her – growth spurts are hell on earth) it’s not always about being self righteous or not, you just have to learn to roll with the kind of sleeper you’re given.

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  • Jenn Mdx

    Self soothing is an exaggeration.. When I’m upset, I want someone to hug me, hold me and rub my back. Why would I think that’s an unfair ask for my child?

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  • Temptress Mama

    I SO needed to re-read this post! For the first 6 months I took my son to bed with us. It was blissful and I loved the snuggles. At 7 months he started sleeping in his crib, which was also blissful, except that I’m still breastfeeding and the lack of nighttime nursing leaves my boobs full to bursting in the morning. Then he started cutting teeth and some nights he wants his crib and other nights he wants me. I get so much flack from my family (mine, not my husband’s, oddly enough. His mother was all for bed-sharing). My aunt keeps saying “you have to get that baby out of your bed and keep him out!”. My grandmother says the same thing, but at least has the decency to add, “but he’s YOUR baby and you should do what works for you”. Still, every once in a while I have to suffer through screaming tantrums at naptime because I NEED him to sleep somewhere other than my arms. Like today, right now. My son is screaming and protesting naptime and I am feeling like a crappy mother. So what do I do when I feel like I’m failing? I go read your blog and remind myself that we’re all doing the best we can and everyone who tells us we’re doing it wrong can go fuck themselves.

    To put it simply, I adore you and your blog. Rock on!

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  • Emily

    My response to those voices/people is to ask, “Does anybody still do it in college?” If the answer is no, then I’ve got about thismany fucks to give about whether I’m doing it right, as long as whatever I’m doing works for my family right now.

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  • Caitlyn

    I’ve read this post at least a dozen times since my son was born last year. And it always brings me back to the reality that I am not alone. Everything gets better and the horrible sleepless nights because he just wants my attention at every hour of every day will pass. Because they have to. But in the event my son does turn into the 15 year old that i still have to help to sleep every night, as least you helped me get through another day.

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  • Cassandra

    Love love love you. While reading this my daughter was fast asleep in her crib, I put her to sleep via boobies then put her in her crib right next to my bed but after reading this I picked her up and put her with me…. Like with your other blogs this one is going into my Reading list. Love that you speak every mothers mind before we even realize we were thinking the same thing.

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  • Alex

    Amazing post .. again.

    by the way, am I the only guy who reads this blog?

    -Alex

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  • Beth K

    I found this at 2am laying in bed with my 10mo old attached to my chest wondering when this nursing all-flipping-night long would end…and now I have big fat tears running from my exhausted eyes down my smiling cheeks! You. are.so incredibly right!!!! I’m constantly getting the “Is he sleeping through the night? If you quit nursing he’d sleep! He has a brand new crib he never sleeps in” etc etc it’s like I didn’t realize how many child sleep specialist were in my social circle…anyhow. I’ll snuggle my boy a little tighter this morning. And I’ll look forward to reading your nail.on.the.head writing from now on! Cheers :)

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  • Jill

    Shit, I still can’t self-soothe!

    I have done it all too. I’ve rocked, sang and every other thing you can think of to allow my daughter to sleep. The other day she pointed to her crib and said “sleepy.” I put her in her crib and she rolled over and went to sleep. Damn near broke my heart. At this point I will gladly move into her dorm room if she wants me to just to sing her to sleep every night.

    I am new to your blog and I love it! I wish you would write a how-to book for mothers cuz no one tells you this stuff when you really need it!

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  • Nancy

    I couldn’t agree more…just when you think you’ve got it all figured out it changes! Ages and stages…AND each child is different, just as each parent is different and our needs change with our own ages and stages.

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