Mommy I Need You
November 7th, 2013
On Saturday night, Little Bird was fussy. Really fussy. I tried half a dozen times to settle her in bed so that I could get some stuff done around the house before I came up to sleep myself.
Each time I would tiptoe out of the room, she’d awaken five minutes later, crying. It was frustrating.
In those moments, I always wonder if I should just let her cry. I know most parents do. At some point in that first year, most parents end up turning to the “Cry It Out” method of “sleep training” where you let your child cry until they fall back to sleep by themselves. The method works. No doubt about that. After a few nights of torture, most kids stop waking so often and Mom (and Dad) get a good night’s sleep.
Advocates of the method say that kids need to learn to soothe themselves, that parents are spoiling them by responding to every cry, that babies will never learn to sleep if they don’t practice it, etc. etc.
But I can’t do it. I simply cannot listen to my infant cry. The second her wail starts, I feel my feet heading for the stairs, my arms reaching out to comfort her. At the end of the day, I think the “sleep experts” are full of baloney and I go with my instincts on what my child needs from me.
So on Saturday night, I grabbed my book and settled my wee bird in bed next to me. I read for a couple hours while she slept.
At eleven o’clock, I felt the fever come on. First her little hands – which were resting on my arm – grew hot. Then her head warmed and she became restless. When I took her temperature a short while later, it was 102.
I gave her some Tylenol, turned off the light, and snuggled in next to her, with my cheek against her hot little forehead.
And I felt a deep satisfaction that I had listened to my child.
It was a reminder once again that babies are not manipulative – they simply have few communication tools in their arsenal. Her cries didn’t mean: “Mommy, I’m whiny and grumpy and I just want to see how many times I can make you walk up those stairs” (though it sort of felt like that!).
Her cries meant: “Mommy, I don’t feel good. Mommy, I need you.”
I’m here, sweet bird.