Sometimes you just know. And I know that I just broke some ground as the mother of Riley Grove.
You see for the past, ah I don't know, 8 months and 1 day, I've let Riley's sleeping schedule overwhelm me. And when I say overwhelm me I mean, I've let Satan dig his claws deep into my heart and I've been at his beck and call ever since. I've done nothing productive for myself or my son regarding sleep since the day of his 6 month check up when the pediatrician announced to me that Riley "should be sleeping through the night"
I still don't know what "sleeping through the night" means because every where I look there's something different. But for the sake of this post lets assume it actually means sleeping from night to morning with little to no disruptions. This has, and bear with me, never happend in my home since the day Riley was born. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I'm openly admitting (gasp!) that my son hasn't ever slept through the night without waking at least one time in the last 14 months [and one day] Now admitting this online and essentially to the world feels a little scary because a big part of this issue has to do with my lack of confidence as a mother.
When I left the doctor's office that day I felt like every ounce of confidence I felt in regards to Riley's sleep went flying out of my hands. [please note, I love my pediatrician and in no way blame this or what I've let this become on her] She told me to let him cry himself to sleep. I was TOTALLY against that idea and have fought it ever since. I've read book after book, talked to moms, talked to friends [some who don't even have children], talked to ladies at church, talked to family, talked to doctors, talked to bloggers, and have driven myself insane. And "cry-it-out" was attempted 3 times but as a result of everything else not working. So every attempt was done as a last resort and I would be frustrated, Riley would be exhausted and so it failed miserably each time and ended with both of us crying hysterically well into the night.
So I blamed not napping well on our "problem" and thus became obsessed with nap times and when and wheres and again ended up overwhelmed and frustrated. I then became obsessed with bed time rituals, bought the right lotions, read the right books, said the right prayers and sang the right songs but still we would end up upset. Everything I tried failed.
In between my attempts to help my son learn to sleep better and when I would allow myself to relax and not listen to Satan tell me how crappy of a job I'm doing, Riley would fall right to sleep and it wouldn't be a big deal. He'd even wake up and for the greater part of these last 8ish months, I've woken up at night with him generally happy and accepting that "that's just the way he is" or that he was teething, or sick or growing or you name it. When I'd start to let it be and just be confident in the Lord that he'd help me through this and that he only gives what I can handle and to let it go and just let the Lord lead me....it would all come back at me.
That voice wouldn't let me mother my son the way my heart told me to. Oh no. Its incessant. It wouldn't shut the hell up. Claws. Big hurtful claws would wrap around my heart and the idol of being the perfect mom and having the perfect sleeper would once again overwhelm me. I took every little comment to heart.
What I've failed to see these last months is that I am RILEY'S mom. The Lord has intrusted his child to me as my own. He gave Riley to me. Not to my mom, not to my friends, my co-workers, my blogger friends, but me. Every child is not the same. Every sleep habit is not the same and every need is not the same. I cannot proceed to parent Riley via a book or through advice of someone else. Wisdom from others is good yes, but to idolize that advice and let it have such a hold on me is not good.
I was trying to fix something that I've asssumed appeared broken in the eyes of other's and their advice but was not broken to me. Riley "not sleeping well" never annoyed me, it was that he wasn't "by the book" and wasn't doing what others told me he should be doing.
So where did I go wrong? I've allowed my self to idolize the feelings and judgements of others toward me. Where did I go right today? I did what I've always said I should do. I let go. I let go of watching the "nap time" clock and my messy floors and my to-do list. I snuggled with my son. I laughed with him and fully enjoyed it, but he just wouldn't go to sleep. So I, with a level and not frantic head laid him down, closed the door and listened to him cry. It wasn't the scream for bloody murder I'm freaking out cry it had been before. It was a whimper; an I know my mom is right, I'm tired but I'm fighting it cry. I busied myself, fully aware of the crying, but this time my heart wasn't pounding and I wasn't mad. It was a tough love, I felt like it was right. I did it on my own accord, not on the beckoning of others.
He fell asleep and is still asleep.
I feel like I've won. The claws can leave and I can mother my child with the help of Jesus and the confidence that I know what's right for Riley.
Sometimes you just know and I now know I'm not perfect, I never will be, but I've got to trust the instinct, the feelings and the wisdom the Lord's given me before anything and anyone else.
As far as tonight, who knows. But honestly I could care less. You're not waking up, I am.