Mommy guilt is real. There are the days where you have a bad parenting day and feel guilty about it. For working and putting your kids in daycare. For not working and still putting your kids in daycare. For taking time for yourself. For going on vacation without them. For being too tired to play. The list goes on and on.
Lately, I have been feeling an incredible amount of guilt for something. It’s in the past. We’ve moved on. But I keep thinking about how I wish I had done that different. I have grown as a parent and because of that, I wish I could go back and change one thing. I wish I didn’t sleep train my kids. Not just at the age they were. But at all.
At the time, I was sleep deprived and had kids who only slept on me or near me and used me as a human soother. I needed relief. We used a form of controlled crying I guess. Going in at intervals and soothing. But the tears. Too many tears. And for too long. I hated every second of it. I raved about it back then because I got the relief. I got some sleep. But my heart didn’t get relief. And I wish I could go back and do it differently.
In the end though I really gave up on “the rules”. With Jack, I would go into him and rock him to sleep when he struggled. I would sleep in his crib with him when he woke up in the middle of the night. Or held him until he fell back asleep.
And with Cole, sleep training didn’t work because he shared a room with his brother and we couldn’t follow “the rules”. It worked in that he was able to fall asleep on his own but beyond that, we couldn’t leave him to cry (even for a short time) because he would wake up Jack. I went in to him. I soothed him. I held him. And in the end, he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 18 months. And I was tired. But I didn’t care.
Going in to my kids when they needed it, I felt connected to them. And them to me.
And now, we very much do things differently. Cole falls asleep on his own. I lay with Jack while he falls asleep. We co-sleep when the boys need it. They don’t need it every night but we make sure they are welcome when they do. They know it is safe. I may not get a good sleep. I mean Jack tends to sleep horizontal to us so I always have feet in my back. We fare better with Cole although he tends to wake us up early when he sleeps with us. But they are only little for so long and will only need us like this for so long.
I don’t know why I feel so much guilt because really, we are giving them the support they need now. I guess I just wish I had given them more support when they were so little and probably needed it the most.
I also wish I had known what I know now and how gentle you can be in “sleep training” babies. And I say sleep training loosely. It is more about being realistic about babies sleep and what is normal and laying the foundation for healthy sleep habits early and still being able to give them the support they need at night or during naps. Because that would have worked for me. And I know it would have worked for them.
So let this post be about me letting go of that guilt and embracing with a full heart the parent I am now.