A little [embarassing] fact about me. I used to think I was an awesome speller. But then I noticed that I always spell "independence" "independAnce." Maybe I thought it made the word more fun?
Which leads me to my next point. Teaching my kid independence has not been as fun as I dreamed it would be. (Actually, I don't think I thought about it much until recently.) At least at this point. Currently, we're attempting to teach her to be independent of us (me, really) in falling asleep. In the past 7 months I have been vehemently against letting Elle "Cry-It-Out" (CIO). There was something that curled up and died inside of me as a mom in not soothing my child when she's crying for me. I couldn't and just wouldn't handle it. I researched articles and studies that proved why letting Elle CIO was harmful for her. (There's not much... if you're interested.) So, for awhile, even though I had to RUN to her every couple of hours to prevent the cry from escalating to supersonic levels, I stuck by my stance of not letting my child cry. It was too painful for me and for her. And while rocking/nursing your cuddly, ever-growing-and-changing-not-a-baby-for-much-longer baby to sleep really is as wonderful as it sounds and I would do it every single night if I could, it's the constant waking and crying because they don't know how to calm themselves back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night that is absolutely exhausting. Not just for me. For Tyler, too.
After a series of somewhat heated discussions on the topic, I realized my sin in this area. I wanted absolute comfort in raising my child. Even if that meant losing sleep. I didn't want to hurt for her. I didn't want to even think that she might be in pain. This is motherhood, though, right? We want to keep our kids comfortable and happy and snuggled up safely in our arms, even if that means we never get any sleep. Even as I'm writing this, I'm fighting the urge to think, "But that's so noble of me! To give up my rest for the comfort of my daughter! What a great mom I am!"
But is our kids' happiness and comfort really the appropriate measure of success for us as mothers? I think America would like for us to believe that it is. But if I'm looking at parenting through the lens of who Jesus is and what He has created me for, success in parenting would be to usher my child into an independent love and worship of her creator. I don't want her to be a woman who says, "Yeah, my mom really loves Jesus" when asked about her faith. Or even the, "I was raised in a Christian home" answer that most of us utter when asked what we believe.
Thus began the first of many adventures in teaching Elle to be independent. Letting her cry. It has been every bit as hard as I thought it would be (though, not quite as intense and awful as it was the one time we let her cry when she was only 4 months old. If you're thinking of doing it, I would wait until 6-7 months-ish. It makes such a difference that I know her different cries.) I haven't let her cry for more than 10 minutes at a time at this point. (about 4 days in) And I do pick her up and sometimes even rock her a bit if she's super worked up. Maybe this will prolong the process, who knows? But I'm leaving room for that ever intrusive motherly instinct that some books tell you to squash in the name of efficiency. And, I will tell you that it. has. worked. She has actually put herself to sleep a few times. And last night, she even slept until 6 am. 6 IN THE MORNING, PEOPLE! Without making a peep after going to bed. (Well, after the crying...)
[Subsequently, it should have been the best night of sleep I've had since she was 2 months old when she slept 8 hours at a time... but I woke up every hour wondering when she was going to wake up. Go figure. Still! It was a win for the David family!]
However, there is something so so sad about letting your sweet child cry herself to sleep. But, there are going to be lots of those moments, I'm sure. Encouraging her to go to overnight camp even though she is terrified... Teaching her to love and deal with mean kids at school... Disciplining her for making foolish choices... None of these things will be fun. I will probably cry. I will probably hurt for her. I will probably want to swoop down to save her, and I will on occasion! Afterall, God swooped down to save me, and that is what grace is, right?
But, right now, I am embarking on the first of many journeys in teaching Elle to be independent. (Not indpendAnt.)
For the record. I tried lots of other methods in my opposition to letting her cry. Pick Up/Put Down from the Baby Whisperer being the most successful. It just was not sustainable overnight. BUT, this method did help Elle not to be dependent on nursing to sleep and if you have an iron will and a husband with an iron will, then I say DO IT! It's a great alternative to letting your kid CIO. Despite what some doctors and authors say, letting them cry isn't the only way, but other ways just didn't work for our family. The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg is a great resource and is by far the best and most moderate (in regards to attachment parenting vs. putting your kids on a strict schedule) parenting book I've read. Which, I really value.
And, what kind of mother would I be if I didn't leave you with a little picture to oogle? :)
And, just because she's even cuter awake than she is asleep :)