Sunday, June 05, 2005

An Apology Letter to My Son – June 2005

Today, I became the worst mother in the world. I know I am not the first, nor will I be the last, but I was not strong enough, and I failed you. Unfortunately, I know this will probably not be the last one of these types of letters I will have to write in your lifetime. Some would say that I won, but it sure as hell doesn't feel that way. How is it winning to feel like my soul has been completely shredded? I was so so very tired. And I was so so very frustrated. And I was so tired of being frustrated. But those no longer seem like good enough reasons.

Tonight, I let Luke cry himself to sleep.

There are innumerable schools of thought on this matter. Some people are out there right now saying "good for you for not spoiling your child." Others are saying "you heartless bitch, how could you not go to him when he needed you?" Many, I imagine, are some where in between. Those of you who have children, I'm sure you at least understand the impulse to allow such a thing, whether you ever actually did it or not. It's what many parents and experts suggest. It's what our own pediatrician suggested, via the Ferber method. But those no longer seem like good enough reasons.

This was the second time he'd gotten up tonight since going to bed. This was about the 50th night in a row (no exaggeration) that he's woken up at least once, usually around 2 AM. We started letting him cry a bit to see if he'd calm himself about a week ago. Maybe it's gas. Maybe it's his teeth coming in. Maybe he's on the verge of a physical milestone. Maybe he's scared. Maybe he's lonely. Maybe not putting him down to fall asleep on his own is finally catching up with us. Maybe we are being punished for going to him every time he cried at night up to this point. Maybe he's sick with an ear infection or something and I don't know it (he already has a well baby appointment for Tuesday). Maybe he's the most stubbornly willful child on the planet (gee, I can't imagine where he got that from). But those no longer seem like good enough reasons.

It took exactly 20 minutes to cry himself into exhaustion. I had already held him for 10 minutes while he cried, so I put him down and left the room. I can be screamed at in bed over the monitor just as easily as I can be screamed at while holding him. I laid there and listened while he continued to scream, wondering where we were, trying to understand why we weren't coming. After 17 minutes, the screaming turned to whimpering. After another 3 minutes, the whimpering stopped. DH is about to go check on him to make sure he’s really asleep and not dead.

He's still breathing. He fell asleep in a sitting position, with his face having fallen forward to his knees. DH laid him over on his side to make sure he continues to breathe. I wonder what he's dreaming about. Probably loneliness and fear and abandonment. And me, who never came back to get him, to care for him, to love him. He used to smile in his sleep. I am afraid that will no longer be the case. He used to smile when he saw me, because I was his mom and he trusted me. I am afraid that will no longer be the case.

The ultimate irony? I am now wide awake.

I keep telling myself that I did this because I had tried almost everything else. I was tired. I need sleep. And he needs sleep. He's been sleeping through the night since he was about 6 weeks old. Is this my punishment for thinking myself so lucky then? I don't know what changed a few weeks ago. He needs to (re?)learn to go to sleep, stay asleep, and put himself back to sleep, all on his own. He needs to go back to being a good sleeper. But those no longer seem like good enough reasons.

Apparently, it is now my turn to cry myself to sleep.

It is now after 3 AM on June 5, 2005. My mother turns 51 today. Happy birthday, Mom. Today, I broke your grandson's heart.

Currently feeling: shattered

1 comment:

  1. thats so sad but i must say i have been there!!!!!!!!!


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