Friday, October 22, 2010

In the dark

Yeah, yeah, I know I've been a blog slacker again lately. It's been busy around here, what with snot and puke and all the normal stuff, too. But here I am--back for now!

I'll bet most of you had said something at one point and had to eat your words later.

"I can't believe my mom said that. I would never said that to my children!"

Twenty years later:

"Because I said so, Freddy! That's why!"

I think most first time parents are idealists. It's a good thing! We want to raise our children to be the best they can be. Most of the time, though, not all of our ideas stand the test of time.

-I'll NEVER give my child sweets before the age of 5 (already broke that one!)

-I'll NEVER let my child watch TV before he's 2 (says the mother with the Veggie Tales addict)

I hold fairly firmly to an AP style of parenting and one of my ideas is no crying it out. No laying a baby in a crib and leaving the room while he cried himself to sleep. Never. It's not taking care of his needs, it's leaving him scared in the dark, it's making him so defeated that he sees no point in crying because he knows I won't come.

Then, I had a 14 month old who decided to make every bedtime a 3 hour struggle and to refuse to nap--at all--for two weeks. He wouldn't nurse to sleep. If I tried to just lay with him in the bed, he would scream and arch his back, and scoot across the bed. He wouldn't let me rock or sway with him. Even if I wore him around the house until he fell asleep, he would wake up as soon as I took him out. Do you know what little sleep and no naps does to a baby? It makes him irritable and cranky, prone to many, many tantrums. Do you know what that does to a mommy? It makes her feel inhuman.

After almost two complete days of being on the verge of tears and insanity, I consulted some AP friends. I said that I felt like my only other option was to let him cry and sit in front of his crib, but I felt too guilty to do it. They told me that Kade needed sleep. Sleep isn't optional. They told me that he is at an age where it is ok to give him limits.

So I did it. I did his usual bedtime routine, we prayed, sang a song, I told him I loved him, and laid him in his crib. I sat in the floor and waited. He cried--not for as long as I expected. Then, he played for awhile, laid down, and went to sleep. As proud of him as I was, I felt emotionally exhausted.

I came out of his room and Michael said, "How was that any different than just crying it out?" To be honest, I just scratched my head and said, "I'm not really sure, but it is." It seems gentler and more humane to me, but I couldn't put words to my feelings. So I asked one of my friends for help again. I said, "So, what's the difference?" And she said (not in these exact words, but you get the gist), "Because you're laying him down and making him go to sleep, he's mad; If you laid him down to go to sleep and left him, he'd be scared and mad."

So, there it is. He may not want to go to sleep, but because he knows I'm right there with him, he eventually calms down and goes to sleep. He knows I'm there. Even in the dark.

The funny thing is, I didn't even think any deeper than this until my husband came home and said that one of his coworkers, who reads my blog, wished I would write a blog about it (So thanks for the idea, Nancy!)

Have you ever been to the funeral of person whose family believes and loves God? If you've noticed, there's a huge difference. The first type of family is sad, and they may cry for awhile, but they're still able to smile and there's a joy because they know that God is there--he is there to comfort and reassure them that everything is ok--even in what seems like a dark time. I witnessed this at both of my grandmother's funerals. My parents and my family who are saved didn't spend the whole time weeping; they were able to smile and speak kind words to people and even share funny memories about my grandmothers. Even in the dark, they had hope. They knew that God had a plan and that tomorrow would bring a new day.

You might have had a much longer struggle than 3 hours with God and his plans for your life. You might not want to give in at all, because "It's your life and you're going to live it for you--not for some unseen God." When you're in a really dark place, though--when it seems like there's nowhere to go and noway to climb out--just look beside you. Even in the dark, you can see Him, staying with you as long as it takes for you to find rest. When you finally realize that He's right there, you can lie down and have peace, knowing that He's there. And if you wake up, and it's dark and you feel alone--cry out to Him again. He will come to your rescue whenever you need Him.

So, yeah, I'm gonna eat my words. I still would never leave Kade alone to cry and I don't think I would have let him cry at all before now, but at this point, it works for us. Kade gets plenty of sleep, wakes up happy, and still gives me slobbery hugs and kisses He still loves me. He knows I'm there, even in the dark.


  1. You are such a strong woman of faith and a strong mother! I also don't practice CIO, but there have been a few times that I've held Leah as she cried herself to sleep b/c she was so overtired that nothing else was working.

  2. Thanks, Becca. I would give anything if he would let me hold him till he went to sleep, even if he was crying, but he fights and arches his back and screams and bites...not fun. :( Poor babes. They're so pitiful when they're tired, but just can't/don't want to go to sleep!