Momma always said that I was afraid I'd miss something.
I see why little kids hate to go to bed. They think they might miss something. My husband says this to me to this day.
Our bodies were made to rest. God created them this way. I frequently lose the battle when I fight sleep, but I dream (sorry-bad pun) of all I could accomplish if not for those precious hours "wasted" sleeping.
Maybe this goes back to my child hood. Maybe because I was never sleep-trained.
I was never sent back to bed if I woke in the night but instead welcomed to wiggle in down between my parents' warm sleepy bodies.
I was never disciplined for getting out of bed, but allowed to fall asleep on the couch. My family joked that Daddy carried me to bed until I was 12.
It's really not a joke.
Maybe because I was a later-in-life baby and a little "spoiled".
Or maybe because my mother said she raised me according to how she felt she should, unlike my sister and brother, who she raised according to how everyone else thought she should.
I am my mother's daughter.
I am more relaxed about bedtime than most. Homeschooling allows for this freedom, but even in the early years, I didn't do what I was "supposed to".
I "rebelled" and felt guilty.
I complained to Momma once that my littles didn't want to go to bed at 7:30 like all my friend's kids did.
She asked if I needed them to get up early. I said no.
"Well then, what's the problem?. They don't have to get up and go to school. Let them stay up later and sleep in."
It didn't occur to me that I'm the parent and I make the rules, not others.
Momma had learned this by the time I came along.
How I miss her non-judging attitude toward my methods or lack thereof. She gave me the much needed permission to do what I needed to do.
This parenting journey is one we forge ahead in often blindly and with great trepiation. And often we fall into condemnation.
Though often inadvertently, I have been made to feel I did everything wrong with regards to my young children's sleep habits. Even by those who didn't even have children.
And likewise, when receiving well-meaning advice from those without special-needs children who suggest what I "should" do about my son- I just smile and nod.
Smiles and nod. And sometimes defend my parenting.
My personal experiences differed with all four of my babies. I've laughingly (well, maybe not) said I had the most no-sleeping babies on the earth. And then, I was given special needs child who still has significant sleep issues. I have no solid answers.
Or a solid eight-hours of sleep.
But, many seem to- have all the answers, that is.
I am not looking to debate Babywise vs. attachment parenting, demand feeding vs. scheduling or any of the countless methodologies and philosophies out there.
But there are always debates. Why? Why do we feel the need to judge others' choices?
I chose to breastfeed my babies – some for so long that I dare not tell anyone because, you know, that judgement – but I'm not going to tell a mom who can't or chooses not to that she's harming her baby or an inferior mother.
Likewise, I'm no less a brave mother because I had my babies at a hospital rather than at home.
I am a firm believer of doing what works for you and your family.
I've offered this little nugget to more than one struggling mom and sense a sigh of relief because someone has given her permission to just do what she must in order to get through another day.
I longed for that grace yet often felt the sting of judgement.
Not that advice is not appreciated or taken under consideration, but when it is served with an air of heir of superiority, it won't be well-received.
My daughter was the first grand baby to come along in 12 years. She was passed from one set of arms to never touching a solid surface for her first week of life it seemed. So when that time came to put her down…
I practically fell into the crib placing her every so gently. Then tiptoeing out.
I couldn't do it. I shuddered at her shrieks and became distraught at her distress. This helpless, little life that I had just brought forth beckoned me to scoop her up and hold her.
And I did. For a long time.
The time I resolved to let her cry it out, she had gotten her leg stuck between the crib bars.
I had failed. Failed at making her "self-sufficient" at the ripe old age of three months. Failed to sufficiently ignore her so that she could self-soothe.
Instead I soothed her. My husband worked many hours and was often away, so she slept with me.
And when I became pregnant with my son,
Wait!! Did I just say pregnant?? How did that happen?
Lets just say that she was not always in the bed. And since hubby worked so much, just the fact that I managed to birth four children in fairly rapid succession speaks a bit to our creativity.
But I digress.
Having baby girl snugged next to me in my big comfy bed made the exhaustion and relentless sickness of my pregnancy managable.
It was my "dirty little secret."
I never once thought she was manipulating me by not wanting to sleep in a room by herself across a big dark house. I never thought of sleep as an obedience issue.
I simply think she wanted her mommy.
And I was all to glad to indulge her.
And the next one.
And so forth and so on.
Some slept in the crib. But some didn't take to it as well, like my youngest.
He was the one I was going to finally "do it right" with. But one attempt to let him cry resulted in him shaking the crib so hard it that he literally broke it. More acurately, he broke the locking mechanism so the side would not stay up. So we had to put it out on the curb and never replaced it.
Yet had I been too strict with my youngest sleeping in his bed and his bed only, the stressful time when my Momma was dying could have been much more so. At barely four, he went from a Hospice couch to car seat, to bed and back and forth countless times without so much as a peep.
God's grace covered my "slack" parenting. He even blessed it.
Looking back, I wish I had done some things differently. I know young moms now who are able to do what I couldn't and I admire them greatly. At the time of my kids' babyhood, I didn't have the tools, the energy or the support. I simply survived.
Some days survival is enough.
Truth is, my kids are turning out to be pretty darn amazing.
And guess what I've found?
Teenagers sleep. A lot.
And they weren't even trained.
A few sleeping places of the "no-sleeping" Neely kids…