It’s easy to be a “good” mom during the day when the littles are happy and smiling and being cute… But what about nighttime parenting? That’s really where the rubber hits the road and your true parenting values come out.
I clearly remember thinking that four to six months was the most challenging age with Levi’s babyhood.
Even though it’s not that long ago, I can’t remember exactly why I thought it was so difficult. Sleep regression factored in there, as did teething, but beyond that I really can’t remember much of the detail.
Judah is now four-and-a-half months old and I’m finding myself stretched thin once again… and having similar thoughts.
I’ve well and truly emerged from that fourth trimester and found that my little one has a mind of his own.
And maybe part of the struggle (now that he has a mind of his own) is that he’s looking at me thinking, Mama, don’t you know my every thought? My every need? And I. just. don’t.
I never will.
You see he had been sleeping through the night fairly regularly from roughly 7pm to 7am, and ohmygoodness did it change things. I knew I couldn’t count on it to continue, but that’s the problem with babies sleeping through the night – once they do you expect them to continue even if you “know better”. (And I do know better. He very well should be waking to feed once or twice at this age.)
Unfortunately knowing better doesn’t magically change your expectations.
These last couple of weeks he’s not only back to waking up at night, he’s waking up several times a night. (A few nights ago it was every two hours – help me God!)
And because of the exhaustion, I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting – what is it and what does it cost?
In the grand scheme of things, exhaustion is a very small price to pay for the immense blessing of children. But in the moment, when sleep is illusive and nothing feels like “yours” anymore, it can be tricky to remember that.
I admit that often during the wee hours I hear him stir and then fuss and then call out for me… and I groan (sometimes only inwardly) in response to what’s required of me.
I get up. I feed him. I take him back to his bassinet a few feet away or I let him sleep with us.
I deliberately don’t look at my phone to see what time it is. I deliberately lose count of how many times he’s already woken. And I remind myself that this is a season…. A very, very short season.
But then in the morning (after the sleepy fog has rolled away) I remember back to the night. I think about my baby and how he needs me. I think about the fact that I’m not just a food source, but his most important source of comfort and reassurance and life. I think about motherhood and the cost that really is so small (and sometimes feels so big).
And I feel bad, disappointed in myself.
I want to parent at night the way I parent during the day, but I realize that I often have a case of split personality disorder – strong and sacrificial and giving by day, grumbling and complaining and reluctant at night.
That’s not the kind of mother I want to be.
I want to be a mother who gives and loves and sacrifices freely. Not one who does so according to when it’s convenient to me or not. (Or when it’s impossible not to be, like when he’s being so darn cute during the day.)
But the sad truth is, I’m often “bothered” by being up in the night. I’m often grumpy about it. I’m often hung up on my “right” to sleep.
And here’s my reality check: having children demands that I give up some of my rights, at least for a while.
Judah might surprise me and go to sleep tonight and not wake until the morning.
Chances are, he won’t.
And maybe that’s the way it should be…
He’s teaching me consistency. He’s teaching me humility. He’s teaching me sacrifice. He’s teaching me generosity.
All lessons I very much need to learn.
And maybe, just maybe, he won’t sleep all the way through again until I’ve learned the lessons that I need to.
I’m becoming okay with that as I try to embrace whatever it is that will shape me the way I need to be shaped.
For his sake.
For my own.
Dear friends, have you thought much about your nighttime parenting? Are you a different parent by night than you are by day? And are you okay with that?