Parenting is About Seasons. Not Quick Fixes.
Aspen was one. She was a decent sleeper until about 6 months old, and then something shifted in her, and she turned into an all night partier. She would wake for as much as one to three hours most nights. I will admit, it’s getting old. But it’s not shocking. All of my kids have been crappy sleepers, and Aspen, sadly, isn’t the worst. With my oldest, Tristan, I was lucky to get four hours of sleep most nights, and he would only sleep if someone sat up, and held him in the hook of their arm, like a football.
It was horrible.
Getting up in the night with any child is horrible, but it just seems to be the way of parenting. At least for me.
The co-worker with a baby mentioned how grateful she was that her child slept well.
The two ladies in the office without children suggested that I see a pediatrician.
“They must be able to do something,” one said.
“They will tell me to do sleep training. Basically, let her cry it out. I tried that with my son, and I found it really difficult… emotionally. I don’t plan on doing it ever again.”
I’d heard this before, “go see a pediatrician.” As if something could surely be done. But I suppose this is one of those, “mother knows best” sort of things. Or in this case, “father knows best.” I have three children and all of them didn’t sleep well in the night until they were two. This is not to say that we haven’t tried things. We’ve read parenting books. We’ve adjusted schedules. We’ve put in white noise, bought swaddle blankets, and lavender, and so on and so forth.
Nothing worked. They just had to grow out of it.
I made the same assumption my coworkers made before having children, “surely something could be done.” But there are certain things, with parenting, that you just have to accept. Irritating habits, strange personality quirks, behavioral issues, that will only change with time. I know that my daughter not sleeping is a phase. She will, in time, grow out of it. Just like I know that eventually my son will stop eating his own boogers and farting on his friends (or at least I am optimistic that it will stop).
I know that my 5-year-old daughter will finally figure out how to buckle her own seatbelt without throwing a fit, and how to pour a bowl of cereal without spilling it all over the table. So much of parenting isn’t about immediate change. It isn’t about finding some magic pill that fixes the problem. It isn’t ever about problems and solutions.
It’s about seasons. Kids change, and as you wait for one thing to pass, you start to discover new challenges. It isn’t always glamorous. There isn’t always a surprisingly dramatic turning point. But it will get better.
This is not to say that I just sit back and do nothing. I work with my kids. I coach them. I tell them to change this or that. Sometimes they listen. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I have to get mad, and things change for a short time, then they revert back to their old habits.
I suppose what I’m trying to get at here is that when people say parenting takes patience, this is what they mean. It means working with a child a million times, over and over, and hoping that all their weird, irritating, quirks get ironed out, and eventually, they will grow up to be a normal, acceptable adult. Sometimes it’s just something gross, and other times it takes the form of really long nights with a one-year-old squirming in your arms, rocking in a glider, and watching the sun creep in through the windows.
None of this is strange or unusual. It’s just parenting. It’s sitting, and watching, and correcting, and hoping.
So much of parenting is difficult to explain. It has to be lived. Very little of it has an immediate solution, because it never really is a problem. It’s just life. It is neither bad nor good. Parenting is about challenges and coaching and hoping and praying that your kids turn out okay.
I thought about all of this as I spoke to my coworkers. I hoped to be able to help them understand. But honestly, that is the really challenge of human experience. Unless you live it, it’s difficult to relate.
I chatted with my co-workers some more. They went on, helping me try to find solutions outside of just waiting for this difficult stage to pass. And eventually I said, “Sure. Yeah… I’ll take her to the doctor.” Because I didn’t know what else to say, and I just wanted the conversation to be over.
This post was written by Clint Edwards and used with permission. Clint is the creator of No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog and the author of “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”
You can find Clint’s work here.