Court is in Recess. Indefinitely.

Monday, August 16, 2010

While at a BBQ for a friend’s birthday this weekend, I had a brief conversation with a new mom. The chat was short since we were both chasing after our children, making sure they didn’t wander off the side of the raised patio or poke the dog in its nose.

Her kid is only a few months younger than mine. She asked me whether my son was sleeping through the night.

“Yes, ”  I said, happily.

She drew in close. “How did you do it?”

QB has slept through the night for a year, so I had to reach back a bit in my mind for an answer. I gave her a brief summary of how we did it (crying it out, folks!). All horror stories considered,  our son took to the sleeping though the night like a champ. We knew we were in the lucky group on this and were grateful behind it.

I paused before punting he question back to her. Maybe it was the look in her face—a mix of perplexity, sadness and exhaustion—but I knew her answer was not going to be as chipper.

She told me, in hushed tones, that her child had not been sleeping through the night, and was actually waking up more recently. Adding to the challenge is the fact that her child is, as she said, “still sleeping in our bed with us.”

I  said I was sorry to hear this, and that I knew it had to be hard on the family. I searched my mind for any tips or books that I might suggest, but came up blank.

I kept thinking about her on the drive home. I noticed how sheepish she was about sharing her sleep woes. But I understood why. It’s the same reason many mothers drag their feet on speaking up about everything from weaning and potty training to hiring nannies and taking an extended maternity leave.

It’s the judgment.

And parents seem to have lots of the stuff. But I’ve found that there’s an inordinate amount of judgment around sleep training, specifically between the “crying it out” group and the “family bed” lot.

I must admit that I’ve gone from “Crying-it-out is cruel!” to “Every baby is different and this worked for us.” And I would not be honest if I said  that I didn’t give a side-eye to those mothers who had kept their babies in the adult bed well into toddlerhood.

But now, case dismissed! I’ve folded up my black robe and set it next to the gavel because I’ve realized this: We judge as a way to sort through our own anxieties over our choices. Judgment gives us (false) validation that we’re doing a better job than them.

So, I’m e-mailing that sweet mom with the toddler sleep snag this morning with the name of a book or two that came in handy for us. Also, I hope to open up the lines so that she and I can continue chatting about all of it, doing this formidable work of raising a human being. And doing it with our own flair.

  • 1
    Sarah says:

    Okay, I’m slow and I can’t figure out how to comment on older posts on your blog. I’m new to your blog and I just read the Nanny Cam post! I know EXACTLY who you are talking about! We see that pair at Edgemont all the time and his nanny is forever either ignoring him while he climbs up the long ladder to the big slide or ignoring him while he’s hungry or not pushing him while he sits in the swing. Seriously, it was creepy to read your post b/c I knew immediately who you meant even before you mentioned his name. If you are still bored and starving for adult interactions in Montclair, I know lots of other moms and we are always meeting up at the park. I live in West Orange now, but I still am a member at the Montclair Library and we go there pretty frequently for park play (and we’ll be using the Children’s YMCA in the winter). Send me an email!

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      Hi, Sarah! First, thanks for the comment. (I also just got your e-mail. Really appreciate it.)

      Next… *sigh* Mean Nanny. Although I’m glad see that I wasn’t jumping to conclusions about her, it’s awful to learn that this nanny is mistreating the child (and has been to the extent that you knew who I was talking about immediately). Has anyone tried to contact the parents? Maybe they’ve seen the child with his parents in the park on the weekends? Very troubling.

      On a brighter note, it would be lovely to meet new moms and their kids. I’ll send an e-mail and see if we can meet up!

      Oh, and P.S., I didn’t realize it but the option to “close comments” after a certain number of days was clicked. You’re not slow…

  • 2
    Memoirista says:

    I know! No matter what you can’t win. It’s everywhere. Sometimes I think SAHMs think I’m crazy for even bothering to work to work part-time (hello, I do enjoy my career SO SORRY) – even though I have TONS of respect for what they do. It’s hard! Yet I feel like the career moms think I’m crazy for giving up some of my potential. Seriously. . But then I also wonder, and I suspect this is actually true, is anyone really spending anytime at all thinking about ME and my choices? Probably not!