A professor of mine once cautioned against parenting books, warning us that parenting cannot be neatly wrapped up in 10 chapters. I listened and stored it somewhere inside my brain.
When I had Emily, his warning slipped back into my consciousness. Yet, when Emily wasn’t sleeping through the night, I resorted to reading one sleep book.
The author’s language was too terse, too strong, too deterministic. I just didn’t buy that if I didn’t get my kid on a sleep schedule immediately her whole life would be screwed up. I stopped reading after a couple of chapters.
Even so, I had allowed certain phrases to penetrate my defenses. It was painful. If Emily refused to sleep, I thought about her long term consequences. I envisioned her energy lagging because her night time was shorter than the recommended 12 hours. I was sure that I was already making a mess of her life.
I started feeling guilty. So guilty, in fact, that I would lie in bed at night, paralyzed by that inner demon’s whispers.
It took a few months (okay a year) of coaching from my husband to finally elevate myself above the harmful affects of that demon.
When Andrew was born, I determined I would read his signals. I would, metaphorically, “go with the flow.” I also decided to listen to my professor’s warning and not turn to immediately to a parenting book if things went awry.
This doesn’t mean that I find all parenting books to be harsh and demanding. No, they have their place. And, if they work for you? Why not use them. But, for me? It was too much pressure.
So, I went with my instincts. Yes, those first couple months were hard. Yes, I often dreamt about sleep filled nights. Still, I knew that sleep would come. Eventually.
And, you know what? It has.