Friday, March 25, 2011

Mommy Sleeps with One Ear Open

How many of us are nodding, "yes", "absolutely", "definitely", "without a doubt" saying that we sleep at night with at least one ear open and are quick to respond to our child's needs in sometimes a much more quick fashion than our counterparts who remain in bed sleeping and not budging?

This is not a slam to our spouses and partners (okay, maybe just a little); however, I find it very interesting that when our kids wake at night or come into our room from a bad dream, a noise they hear, the need to go to the bathroom or just because they want to be near us, we are often the first to hear their tiny footsteps. We are usually the first to feel their presence at the side of the bed standing over us. We are likely the one's who crawl or bolt out of bed to manage the situation.

There have been many times, in these instances, where fatigue is beyond for me, where I have looked over to my husband willing his eyes to open and to wake up and to take action. I admit that there has even been a time or two or more where I have nudged him to get up as I feel I do the lion share of the night time responding. And, he gets up.

It turns out that my loving hubby gets up more than I thought he did. After telling him about this blog post I was writing he told me that he gets up and deals with Sarah far more than I know. He said, "there are plenty of times where I hear Sarah pad into our room and stand by the foot of our bed. As I get up, she walks back to her room, gets back in bed, and I tuck her in."

It's funny because I was so convinced, and still am, that I do the majority of the waking up when Sarah gets up at night or really early in the morning. It's actually really a moot point. This blog post is not that I do more than Daniel or that he does more than me. I just find it funny that I often wake at the drop of a hat to address Sarah wakings, which seem to happen often.

I publicly apologize to my husband for thinking he was not as much an active participant in this parenting task.

This is definitely a mommy thing, a martyr thing or whatever we want to call it.

As moms, we are quick to react to our little one's needs without a thought. It's not that our partners aren't interested or less concerned. It's that we have trained them too well to know that we will be the first on the scene, most of the time, to react and address the situation.

On a separate note, because of the extreme fatigue we feel at times many of us have fallen into the habit of agreeing to let our kids climb into our beds for the sheer need and desperation to get more sleep or seeming inability to physically get up.

When Sarah is sick I am more willing for her to climb into my bed, more so, so I can keep a close eye and ear on her. Sometimes, and this we do on occasion and only during illness time, we let Sarah sleep on a kid-sized flip sofa (which I love and think everyone should have) on the floor next to my side of the bed where she can crawl in and out of safely and I can be near by to rub her back, tuck her back in, etc.

Please know, I do not encourage co-sleeping with children in the adult bed. It is not safe and can indeed be dangerous. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission they warn against infants and toddlers under the age of two sleeping together with parents. Between January 1990 and December 1997 there were as many as 515 deaths due to strangulation (e.g., bed frames) and suffocation (e.g., blankets, pillows, parents rolling on top of children) resulting from co-sleeping in the same bed with children.

While many of my friends co-sleep with their children, as that is their personal choice, I feel otherwise. What works for them doesn't work for me. Call me selfish. Call me overprotective.

I also need a quality night's sleep and a good rest does not involve Sarah, the wiggler, kicking, punching and pushing me (accidentally, of course) to ends of the bed thankful for the nightstand to help prevent me from hitting the floor with a start.

Even though Sarah is over the age of three it's important for her to learn to sleep in her own bed and find comfort in the space that has been created for her to sleep and rest.

I digressed. Now, let's get back to the topic at hand.

I am just glad that my husband appreciates my willingness to act for the various reasons I have discussed above and for that I can make other requests of him from a parenting standpoint.

Like all parent partnerships, each of us does specific tasks and responsibilities better or more frequently than the other. It is not a contest. One of my many parenting skills just happens to be getting up in a moment's notice, in zombie-like mode, to react and resolve our child's needs as quickly as possible.

Is this one of your skills?

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