I try to keep this blog away from too much parenting, but I’m an utter failure. What can I say? I think it’s probably better that I say these things that come to my mind here rather than trying (so, so hard) to be get my opinion across diplomatically on Facebook groups. It never works. I never mean to offend people, but somehow I always do.
Anyway, back to the point of my story. Being a mom to a tiny person, I belong to lots of groups on that aforementioned social networking site (I join these groups for business networking reasons – perhaps there lies my folly) that cater directly to those who define themselves by the fact of their status as mothers – that is to say, new mothers. So, every third day or so, someone posts “how do I get my baby to stop getting up so many times a night?” Ten other women have always recommended the usual myriad of sleep-fixing books in the first 45 seconds after the question has been posted. The majority of them read exactly like this: “my son/daughter/dumb acronym for son or daughter didn’t sleep through until s/he was 83.7 months, but I found the book ‘How to bewitch your baby into doing something totally unnatural’ helped ALLOT (sic, obviously)”.
Seriously, I remember those days of never, ever sleeping and I wish that instead of giving me a list of reading material, someone had just slapped me across the face instead. I tried book after book, method after method. Nothing worked. Why? Because babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night. It’s amazing how these stupid books and so-called experts can make us call into question our own instincts (or worse, distract us from the fact that we even have instincts) and create their own little market by claiming to fix problems that don’t actually exist. I would have gotten a hell of a lot more sleep if I hadn’t been so worried about when my daughter should be eating, playing, sleeping and pooping. I was so busy trying to shush and pat her into my skewed view of what life and motherhood should look like that I probably kept us both up. If I hadn’t had so much on my mind, I could probably have fallen asleep after middle of the night feedings. But I bought into this idea that there was something fixable about the situation and, like a fool, put a bunch of energy toward something that actually didn’t matter. It turns out, in case you are wondering, that babies are people and not things that come with a manual. Your baby is not broken. It’s a baby. Just roll with the punches.
I’ve been pretty hard on the baby experts, but surely pop culture is to blame…? Clearly someone is putting it out there that babies should do as told, that they have 6-8 weeks to get that night-waking situation under control, and that’s why we think something is wrong when our babies ignore these rules. Right?
If I could go back in time, I would toss all those sleep advice books in the trash (ok I’d recycle them – I love trees) and use some common sense; baby=untamed animal=will do what’s natural. How can that be wrong?