Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Happy Mother

Almost, it seems, from the moment Baby Brown Eyes was born, I've been hearing the question. "Does he sleep through the night?"

And always, from the first time I was asked, I chuckle in disbelief and answer, "No."

I realize this question is just a way to make conversation, but after hearing it enough, I started to wonder. Should my baby be sleeping through the night already? Is there something wrong with him? Is this sleeping-through-the-night business some milestone that he skimmed over?

Then I learned about babies that did sleep through the night, at young ages, too, and I started feeling like a failure as a mother. It took me a while to realize that, although Baby Brown Eyes wakes up a few times a night, our methods are working well for us, we're all happy, and that's what matters.

I realize a lot of mothers use the "cry it out" method to teach their babies to sleep on their own. I realize a lot of mothers swear by this method. I realize that it probably does work, and if I had the guts to try it my baby would probably be sleeping like a pro by now. I don't condemn mothers who use "cry it out." I wouldn't want other people judging my mothering methods and I certainly can't judge anyone else's.

It's just that "crying it out" is never something I've been able to do with Baby Brown Eyes. Not that I've tried very hard. But seeing those big brown eyes filled with tears, those little hands reaching out for me, that's not a sight I can turn away from. And I don't think I'm supposed to. As his mother, I am built to respond to his needs. Even if those needs come in the middle of a very peaceful and contented sleep. He is just a baby, after all. And babies need their mothers.

Would I like a full eight to ten hours of sleep? Absolutely. But I waved goodbye to those days when I got pregnant, just like I said "see ya later" to my perfect little tummy, uninterrupted snuggling sessions with Mr. Brown Eyes, and a pristine, uncluttered living room floor. The minute I brought Baby Brown Eyes into this world, my life ceased to be completely mine. While my needs are still important, his come first, as will the needs of all my future children. This is what being a mother is all about. If you can't hack it, by all means, don't have children.

I could make every day a battle, forcing Baby Brown Eyes to nap when I want him to, letting him fuss and cry and frustrate me while I try to accomplish tasks that may be important but can certainly wait until later. Or I can lose myself in the joy of being a mother, remembering that the laundry and the dishes will still be there when I find time for them, but Baby Brown Eyes will only be a baby once, and fleetingly.

In my mind, enjoying motherhood is not about conquering your baby and getting him to submit to your schedule. It's nice when Baby Brown Eyes sleeps when I want him to and happily entertains himself with his toys. But I can also find joy in the times he doesn't. Because if there's one thing I've learned about motherhood, it's that it's chock full of unpredictable ups, downs, highs, lows, and everywhere in betweens. It's days of frustration sprinkled with beautiful moments that make your heart swell with more love than you can possibly contain. You can't schedule that. You can't control it. You just have to live it.

My baby is almost fifteen months old and he has yet to sleep through the night. But I wouldn't trade a hundred restful nights for the sweet feeling of rocking Baby Brown Eyes to sleep in my arms, his warm, perfect little baby body snuggled against me.

Call me crazy,
The Brown-Eyed Girl


RBeckstead said...

AMEN!!! I completely agree. I feel the same way - although I could never say it quite like you do. I'm glad someone else out there feels the same way. Sounds like you're doing great!

Kolena locksa said...

Preach it sistah!