I want to share a dirty little secret with you. My son had some seriously funky sleep habits that first year (and counting). For a while, he would only sleep on me, but I had to be in a very specific position. A position that, for lack of better explanation, would have landed me a gig as a contortionist if I ever wanted to run away with the circus. Then, he decided to only sleep while I was walking. Which meant averaging 5 hours a day just …. walking… carrying a tiny human-heater over hill and dale.
Then he moved to the swing. You know, the one that warns you shouldn’t leave them in there for more than 30 minutes at a time? Yeah, that one. He’d sleep in there for as long as he wanted, thankyouverymuch. Oh, then we slept for only 20 minutes at a time for all eternity. Then, only if I was standing next to the crib with him in my arms as his body lay twisted at a 90-degree angle at the waist. Oh, and we woke up every hour or two from eight-weeks-old until he was over a year. I can’t remember when that stopped because I stopped being able to mentally comprehend the difficult concepts of time and space around month six of sleep deprivation. So, you see, I kind of failed the whole sleep thing for a while there. In response to a recent article, however, I just wanted to reassure you that you aren’t totally bonkers when it comes to sleep. Your kid has slept peacefully in the crook of your arm in bed with you since day one? Cool! Good job. Your kid sleeps best in his crib in the same room as you? Rock on, mama. Your kid sleeps in his crib alone in his room without complaint? Great job! Your kid only sleeps hanging upside down from the rafters, his little feet latching onto the wooden boards like leeches to hold him up? A little odd, but okay! Your child is the one who never needs more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time? Ouch. Been there. Your kid falls asleep in shopping carts, high chairs, car seats, and rock concerts? Mystifying, but keep up the good work! Your kid only sleeps in the crib if you’re curled up in a ball in the corner of his room all night? Invest in a chiropractor, but good job, you! Whatever you do, as long as your kid is sleeping safely, don’t change a thing. Sleep is precious. Precious. (I creepily sound like Gollum in my head.) You and your child are doing everything right if you both get some sleep at some point, and everyone is remotely functional. Keep on keeping on, mamas.
Because of all this, and so much more ... I resolve to stay the course set out by our courageous foremothers who fought pointedly, persistently for equality. I'm a woman raising a daughter in a world that values her more for her bone structure than her brain. This is my resolution. This is my feminist manifesto.
I now know there are steps I can take to change how I think, to find the true me again. That is why I am going to take better care of myself this year. In fact, that’s the only resolution I care to make. For both my own health, and as an important example to my kids, this year, I'm resolving to practice a kindness that starts from within.