This week has been a real turning point for me. This week I have let go of what I will call my “lazy parenting.” That is to mean, I was basically babysitting Brandon before. This week, I started to finally do something about raising my children responsibly.
For example, it has been no secret that I was rocking Brandon to sleep up until this week. I have written about this before. I really enjoyed our special nighttime ritual together. My pediatrician had told me to make him fall asleep on his own about a year ago, and I had blown that off as a mere suggestion.
It seems we only listen to what we want to hear until we’re ready for the truth. I wanted to hear that I should enjoy this special time with my son because he soon will outgrow it (and me!) and I will long for these days again. And while I’m sure that is true, I have realized that waiting things out is not taking action at all. And kids sometimes don’t outgrow things until you force them to. Hell, I know plenty of adult children whose parents still pay for their insurance, cell phone bill, car payment, you name it.
Brandon is a nearly thirty-pound child who certainly takes up more room than my lap can offer. He is uncomfortably flailed about over my body trying to fall asleep on me because it is what he is used to and what he is comfortable with. He will fight sleep if I’m not rocking him. The second I put him in his crib, he will scream bloody murder because he knows it gets me right back into his room immediately.
But two years of rocking him to bed for up to an hour each night starts to wear on this old woman. It is no longer the joyous bonding it was before – instead, it became me checking the clock endlessly, estimating the time I would finally have a few minutes to sit and relax. Night time really is my only time of complete peace and selfishness. Also, ever since Holdy has joined us, I have seen Brandon as a boy rather than a baby and this rocking just seems a bit ridiculous.
We had tried to get him to fall asleep on his own while my mom was still here, but it seemed too barbaric to force on him along with taking away his pacifier (in the day only), introducing him to this baby brother, getting him into a big boy bed, and start potty training. So I decided instead to take these things one at a time. After he got adjusted to Holden, we got rid of the pacifier (it was so much easier than I had imagined). I have tried the big boy bed many times, but without knowing how to fall asleep on his own, he just ends up climbing out of bed and playing with his toys instead. And potty training – geez, that can wait. I’m not too excited about cleaning skid marks, anyway. So it all comes back to falling asleep on his own as the next step.
I read message boards where one horrified parent said their child cried for seven whole minutes before falling asleep and it was torture. That is nothing to me. When we had tried letting him cry it out before, it could take up to an hour and a half. And this is of non-stop screaming. My kid is a real fighter. I finally found some good advice that I decided to try – let him cry for ten minutes, then go into his room, calm him down, and once he stops crying, put him back in his crib after explaining why. I did that. I expected to go five rounds the first night. It only took three. The second night, he didn’t even bother screaming. He just whimpered a little bit and alerted me when he dropped his pacifier. I retrieved it for him and when he asked me to rock him, I told him he is too old and now he falls to sleep by himself in his crib.
With Holden, I can tell you we will make him fall asleep on his own right when the pediatrician recommends it, if not earlier. Tonight, I have an extra hour to myself. Both of the boys are sleeping peacefully. And I can read and write. I’m working towards an equilibrium here. Sometimes that means tough love. Which sucks, but turns out to be exactly what both of us needed.