About Me

Kent, United Kingdom
I have the perfect family but still struggle to find the light in the darkness of post-natal depression.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

more thoughts, but some of them are positive!

I know it's shocking, but I'm feeling positive today. Don't get too excited; there has been no fantastic job offer, although some things are bubbling away and I'm really hoping they work out. I can't put my finger on the reason for my good mood this evening, and actually I think that's a fantastic thing - in the same way that one of the worst bits about depression is not being able to explain why things look so bleak, it's wonderful to feel good and know it's not due to a specific external factor.
Of course, there are still things for me to brood on, and I thought I would share one of those with you here. It's another of those dreaded reaction-to-comment type moments and I can't work out how I feel about it.
So here goes.
Miss T has been in her "big girl bed" for a few weeks now and mostly it's okay. But there were a few extra bedtime traumas for a while as she learned to go to sleep on her own in a new environment.
I've always been a bit strict about her sleeping patterns because I've heard and read so much about parents who struggle to change bad habits, like babies who will only go to sleep if they are being held/rocked/driven round the block. Anything for an easy life! So right from the beginning she was put in her cot awake and the result was that bedtime was miraculously easy - we put her in her cot, she went to sleep.
Understandably, that didn't happen with her new bed and she needed some extra reassurance. But I believe it's still important she goes to sleep on her own, without someone sitting on the bed or in the room - the consequence of that happening is that each time she opens her eyes during the night and realises whoever was there has gone she starts screaming and insists they return.
Unfortunately, a consequence of that belief is that she cries when whoever is doing bedtime leaves the room.
Mark finds that incredibly difficult and is desperate to go back in and stay until she is asleep and when we were discussing it he said he just couldn't bear to hear her crying.
I can understand that, sort of, and I recognise a physiological response in myself when she is crying - I feel anxious, increased heartrate, etc - but despite that it doesn't actually bother me that much.
I bet you can guess what's coming next! I'm wondering if that makes me a terrible parent, if I'm too detached, if I'm hard and unfeeling. Shouldn't I be rushing in there too, or sitting downstairs in tears as I've seen parents on Supernanny etc do in similar situations?
I know that's ridiculous - and Shoulds are banned in my new post-therapy life - but it's something to think about. I'm tempted to say - and did - that she's not really crying at those times, she's just expressing her anger, which is different to genuine distress, and of course I hate it when there are real tears. And it's never for more than a few minutes, and it's not constant screaming, just intermittent roaring, which does all suggest to me that she is just trying it on to get her on way.
But maybe all of this means I am an extremely harsh parent and she will grow up feeling unloved.
Does anyone else wish there were clear instructions on the right thing to do, or multiple choice options with the choices being the long-term consequences of the actions?

1 comment:

Zoe C said...

Liz, stop beating yourself up on this. There is no right and wrong way as we all have different ideas about how we want our kids to turn out. Even in a relationship you will both have diffferent ideas and that is what gives each child a variety of opinions and strands to their personalities that stops them being a clone of a us.

It is always difficult when we as parents have different ways of dealing with a situation. When you are the main parent in a childs life, you have an different connection and as such instinctively know them (yes I do believe this is you too before you doubt it) and make decisions on parenting without thinking sometimes and usually without consulting the other parent as you become used to doing the everyday things and making those decisions (a piece of cake or a DVD for five minutes peace is the prime example for me!).

Someone once said to me, there is a war to win (bringing up a well rounded child) and there are a series of battles along the way, what you need to decide are the important battles to win and the ones you let slide. Bedtime (and routine) were and are critical battles for me to win as a parent.

I put our daughter to bed on my own 75% of her life, and as such she has been put to sleep the same way yours has. She goes to bed awake and knows when I leave the room. Sometimes I get the lovely "night night, love you, see you in the morning" that we say at bedtime and other times she is not interested and is screaming at me before I leave the room. It is heart breaking (and frustrating as I get used to the calm of the house that follows an easy bedtime) to leave her, but it on the whole subsides within a few minutes and she may be awake in her dark room for 30 minutes or so, but not moaning/crying for more than ten and then chatting to herself and the things in her room. My other half was like Mark and tended to want to go back to her quicker or stay with her when grumpy, but this made life harder for me when he was still working or when he was giving me "time off" as, like you, I can't bear hearing a long rambled on bedtime that can be eaisly nipped in the bud (because yes YOU do know it can be and I see nothing wrong in admitting that). As it was getting to me, we spoke about it. I made sure this was on a night when we had both put her to bed and she had not been a bother. We agreed to him trying my "harder line" approach the next time she started when he was putting her to bed adn we came up with a way to distract him so she couldn't pull on his daddy's girl heartstrings too quickly. I would love to say we haven't looked back, but it is a lot better. He does still want to go back quicker than I will, but that is his own decision, at least now it is well over double the time than before and she has gone quiet a lot more often too.

I refuse to examine the fact that I will leave her too closely. This has grown as she has grown from baby to toddler. I don't come downstairs once she is bed and sit there crying or wringing my hands like on Supernanny, because I have always put her to bed like this and know there is a combination of good nights and bad nights. The supernanny parents of the world are witnessing events for the first time ever and for the bedtime ones they have usually never had any routine and the child is fighting months/years of lack of structure. I know that my little lady is no longer a baby, she definitely is capable of manipulating people around her to get what she wants, this bedtime wailing is another string in her bow. This is clear to me by the increased number of stories or cuddles etc that she tries to sneak in at bedtime these days, and if I am honest I love the fact that she is doing this, it shows she is watching the world and understanding how people work. She is developing her voice in this world and I really do enjoy watching that grow, although most of the time that is in moments of reflection not usually at the moment of her voice being developed (tantrum in the shop, the need to walk *right now*, or the desire to have "it"). Thanks to the war and battles advice I was given, I look at each of these things with that in mind and generally think, if I give in on this now, will it ultimately undermine the relationship, when it won't I let it slide and give in (whether that is to make my life easier or anything else, I do it and don't think about it again), the other times she stays in the pushchair screaming/gets left sitting on the floor while I walk away (and hide round the corner watching her every move) until she works out there is no compromise or winning this time. These are usually snap decisions at the time and I have now decided that I will not reflect on these later in the day/week as they can't be changed, but it does take effort and it moments of exhaustion it is too easy to beat yourself up that you are failing/*should* take more time to explain or console, but in reality you do something because there wasn't the time or energy left and you just have to accept it.

I really do not believe that it is impacting Tash in any way or indeed that you need to have a set of instructions to help you. You can put all the effort into judging yourself every step of the way, or try to accept that you will not be able to determine everything on your childs path as they grow up and all you need to do is make sure they know that you love and will be there for them and support them no matter what. I think if your child grows up knowing they can talk to you and you will listen and help, the occasional bit of chocolate, DVD or leaving them to bawl their eyes out for ten minutes is not going to make any difference in the long run.

Mind you ... I could just be talking rubbish and my daughter will be scarred for life!

Having just re-read this, it is rather large, but stuff it, I can't be bothered to make it shorter.