I used to be one of those moms who would try to get her kids to bed at 8:30 every night so they would be well rested and exuberant children in morning, ready to attack the day with a smile (insert sarcastic laugh here), but between the push-and-pull and frustration of kids that simply didn’t want to sleep, somewhere along the line, I gave up. I conceded. I donated my proverbial “Mom of the Year” trophy to all of the judgmental moms that wanted a grab at it or to throw it at my head.
The progression of parenting is an interesting one: the first child will often have first-time parents reading all of the preparing for baby books, filling in all of the blanks for keepsake books, planning and preparing schedules, meals, and naps with such precision that you could practically plan the royal wedding in your sleep.
By the time you have a second child, you find yourself relying less on the books and more on survival. You eat when you can. You sleep when you can. Your perfectly managed scheduled will now be an indefinite status of “tentative”.
At some point, you start to lose your sanity due to sleep deprivation and haven’t showered in days when you start to question what’s really important? If you child eats a snack before dinner, will it matter? Will this snack be THE snack that destroys all of the healthy eating habits you have been working to instill? If you ignore your baby’s cries so you can take five minutes for a hot shower, will it matter? Will your child grow up feeling unloved and rejected? Sounds pretty dramatic, right?
When I was pregnant, my body literally provided all the protection to my children’s environment. As they came into the world, I had to give up the idea that I could protect them and understand not everything is meant to be controlled. My peace-of-mind was more important than being upset daily. I found more value in letting them stay up and read than I did arguing for them stop intentionally prolonging their bedtime ritual. Instead of going to bed frustrated and disconnected, some nights are bursting with laughter and dance sessions and we go to bed with smiles and feel loved.
So, my kids don’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. It took me NINE years to get my youngest daughter to sleep in her own bed. NINE YEARS of getting throat-kicked and bitch-slapped. But for the past couple years, every morning, if she’s not already crawled into my bed throughout the night, I will call her back in for our morning “huggle”, which is simply a five minute super hug cuddle as I slap the snooze button three more times. This is how my daughter misses the bus. We miss the bus almost every day and I have to drive her to school. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the point when I gave up trying to mold my children into what is deemed by societal norms to be “appropriate behavior”, the guilt and shame of not being perfect was washed away with it.