Lily is a terrible sleeper. Still. At 18 months old.
She cannot fall asleep on her own. She wakes up multiple times a night.
It’s Howard’s and my fault. He lays next to her crib and holds her hand until she falls asleep. We both run in there whenever she whimpers or cries. We sometimes (ok, a lot of times) give in and bring her into our bed.
Everyone tells us we have to let her cry. My parents, who by the way NEVER let her cry, even tell us this. We’ve been told that she wakes up in the middle of the night, like most people do, but she can’t get herself back to sleep because she has never had to teach herself how. We’ve been told that she falls asleep remembering someone is with her and then wakes up scared because she is now alone.
We have to let her cry, we’re told.
So, tonight we are trying it. She is screaming and calling out our names. I had to walk outside so I don’t hear it.
How do we make ourselves not go in there when she is crying and calling for us? Are we cruel not to? Are we really doing what’s best for her? Or are we doing what’s best for ourselves because the lack of sleep is finally catching up to us? Is she really learning how to fall asleep or is she learning that she can’t count on mommy and daddy to be there for her when she’s sad?
I often wonder if it is really that terrible to rock our toddlers to sleep. If it’s that horrible to stay in the room with them until they fall asleep peacefully. They won’t want to or need to be with us like that for much longer. Are we wasting precious minutes of bonding time with them?
As I walk back up the stairs to my room, I hear silence. Lily fell asleep on her own. But she fell asleep upset and crying.
Howard says to me, “See it works.”
I should feel good. I should feel accomplished because I followed through and “did the right thing.”
But I don’t. It feels so wrong. I feel like I let her down.
I feel heartbroken.