I can still remember the days when I would be up all night, close my eyes for a wink and be ready to conquer the world the next day. Whether it was binge-ing DVD box sets, staying up late chatting with my girlfriends during a high school sleepover, or diving into a book I just could not put down until it was finished, the night sky would brighten, morning would come, and with a smile, I would greet the day so unaffected by the lack of sleep.
When we are young and weightless, unbound by responsibility, it is so easy to think we can go on forever like that. In some ways, our youth is like a dream. We live life like montages in a movie. All smiles until it’s heartbreaks, nights that will never end, anthills we turn into mountains that shake our whole world up, convinced it will completely destroy us.
Fast-forward to now. Closer to 30 than 20, and sleep and coffee is all that keeps me going. If I stay up past midnight and don’t sleep in until 10am the next day, I feel like I am closer to death. Some mornings I just lay there, knowing I have slept less than a few hours that night, my baby girl crawling all over me while I stare up at the ceiling thinking back on the days when I didn’t need sleep.
How funny life is. They let us function in our youth with such a minimal amount of everything, no sleep, no food, no problem. Now, when that skill will come in handy, everything is thrown in reverse.
When I talk to people about my lack of sleep, they always blame it on my parenting choices. “You’d be getting way more sleep if you would just put her in her crib.”, “If you had chosen not to co-sleep it would be easier now.”, “You cuddle her too much, so she’s too dependant on you.”, “If you had breastfed less and introduced the bottle earlier, it would be easier to get her to sleep on her own.”, “Co-sleeping was a mistake, and you are paying for it now.” I could go on.
To those people that think they have all the parenting answers and can so easily outline all my mistakes and correct them with perfect parenting, I have this to say; less parenting is not better parenting.
Yes, my daughter is very attached to me but children, especially babies, are supposed to be attached to their mothers. Parenting is not supposed to be easy, and despite all the articles that suggest things like the cry it out method and independence in your baby so you can parent, work, and have hobbies is best, you are supposed to parent around the clock.
This new age idea that we should love our children a little less, ask them permission, make sure all our plates are in the air at the same time, and step back from parenting in my opinion is a crock of sh*t. You can’t spoil a baby with too much love and attention if that is exactly what they need. You can’t over-do love, and the thought that you can is complete nonsense.
Yes, I still co-sleep with my one year old which means I get a lot less sleep than babies that are sleeping soundly in their crib. But I also get to wake up to her beautiful face next to mine, I laugh through silly situations when a tiny foot slaps me awake in the dead of the night, I have little conversations with her as she babbles at me in the wee hours of the morning instead of going back to sleep.
I have swapped out the luxury of sleep and easiness for memories, and I am okay with that. I have forgone the simplicity of her napping alone for endless cuddles and this unbreakable bond of trust between the two of us. I am given up a lot of my personal space, for dependency.
Yes, babies are supposed to depend on their parents! I know, crazy, right?
I am tired, I am worn, but I am more tired of trying to explain to people how this type of parenting is not crippling my child, as they suggest. How giving her all the love and attention she needs when she is feeling sad or grumpy, or fussy, is not bad for her. How not letting her cry her lungs out until she is to tired to be awake anymore is not neglect, quite the opposite.
There is no doctor or professional that can tell me that centuries of parenting is wrong and this new age parenting that is less than a few decades old is best.
If my plan works out, and life goes the way I want it to, she will be my only baby. I would hate to look back and regret not loving her more. Not breastfeeding her for longer, not holding her a little tighter when I had the chance. That feeling of being so thoroughly nurtured, so safe, will open a door in her life later that will make her feel like I am her safe place, I am home to her.
So yes, I am giving up my sleep for my daughter, because as parent’s we should be willing to sacrifice a lot more than that. And for all those people out there telling women otherwise, you should be ashamed. Let people love their children as fiercely and selflessly as they want, it’s really not your place to tell them otherwise.