I just spent the last hour questioning my mothering skills – wondering whether what I was doing was hurting or helping Emily’s development and emotional well-being. For the past few months, we have been very lucky with Emily’s sleeping patterns. I remember being able to put her down for two naps a day. Now, the napping schedule has been reduced to one. I remember being able to leave Emily’s room once I put her into her crib and she would fall asleep on her own. Now, I must pin her to the mattress and watch her as her eyes slowly close….then open….then close….then open….then finally, after my back begins to cramp from hunching over the crib, Emily falls asleep. After going through this painful routine, I have decided that Emily needs to learn how to fall asleep on her own….like the good ol’ days.
This morning, I decided to place Emily in her crib, rub her forehead for a few minutes, kiss her on the cheek and quietly leave the room. Not more than two seconds later, a shriek of anger was heard throughout the house as Emily immediately rolled over, stood up, threw her pacifier across the room and demanded my presence. I waited a couple more seconds, re-entered her room, placed her gently in her crib, rubbed her forehead and gave her a kiss on the cheek and quietly left the room. Not more than two seconds later, a shriek was heard throughout the house as Emily immediately rolled over, stood up, threw her pacifier across the room and demanded my presence. Now, you might thing I just mistakenly wrote out the same sentence twice. Let me assure you that this was intentional. I went through this exercise for just under an hour. Finally, Emily is sleeping, exhausted from her hour-long tantrum with a few leftover tears on her little cheeks.
I used to babysit a very spoiled 6-year-old boy. His mother gave him everything he could possibly want and every night I had the pleasure of babysitting him, I had to sit in his room, beside his bed and wait until he fell asleep. This could take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. It was an awful experience and I wonder sometimes if his mom, to this day, still needs to sit in his room until he falls asleep. I hope not.
This is one of the reasons why I want Emily to learn to fall asleep on her own. That might sound selfish, but if I’m going to have more children, there is no way that this routine can be continued. In addition, I want Emily to get over whatever is causing her to get upset from falling asleep on her own. Is she scared? Is she too dependent on me? Whatever the reason, I feel that Emily will be much better off in the long run if she is comfortable falling asleep without me.
Now, I know that people will think that I am robbing Emily of her emotional well-being and allowing her to feel that I am not there for her when she needs me. Trust me, I have thought about this. But, as I slowly decide what is best for Emily, I am starting to realize that everybody raises their children differently and there are pros and cons to every parenting approach. The important thing is to stay true to your beliefs and not compare yourself to other parents. You can never do the right thing for everybody – just the right thing for your family. As long as I remember this mini tidbit of mommy wisdom, I think that Emily will turn out great.