Go Tell The Spartans

November 30, 2009

I give up. I surrender. The battle has been fought. It has been lost.

We have tried everything, pretty much, to get Jasper to stay asleep in his own bed. Which is to say, we have tried everything within the limits of our physical and emotional endurance. We made a final push this weekend, a cry-it-out effort to hold the pass of our bedroom door and defend the peace of our bed, but to no avail. The boy found his way around our defenses and, like Leonidas at Thermopylae, we held our ground, we tried to hold our ground, but our forces were no match for his cries and his pleas and his Dadda Dadda Dadda Dadda MAMA MAMA MUM! And so we fell, and so we give up.

The problem is, we’re no Spartans. We’re sleep-deprived, exurban parents with neither the strength nor the will to withstand our children’s cries, and Jasper can cry with all the force of ten thousand Persian Immortals. We are outmatched. We are outmatched. We were outmatched, and so we cede the battle. The pass is his, our bed is his, until such time as he retreats of his own accord.

I suppose that we could abandon our bed and leave it to him, empty. We could retreat to safer ground and rally our strength and then, like Themistocles, meet him in another battle. But we are not warriors, and he is not our enemy and – notwithstanding anything that any philosopher has ever said about the nature of children – he is not out to conquer us, not really. He is not out to defeat us. He does not bear arms; he wants arms. Ours.

So, our arms he shall have, for however long he needs them. And I will find ways to find my sleep under his regime, and I will remind myself that this, too, shall pass, and that when it does I will not look back on it as a battle lost, but as a laying down of arms, a giving over of arms, a wrapping-up-in-arms, a bringing-together-of-arms that I will one day miss. Terribly.

This, then, is not failure, not defeat, not self-sacrifice, but a kind of surrender, a kind of necessary surrender that does  not lack courage or spirit or strength, the kind that simply recognizes that maybe it wasn’t so important to hold the pass in the first place.

darius jib

Go tell the Spartans. And then maybe put on another pot of coffee, and pour me a half-dozen cups, straight.

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    { 84 comments }

    Jennifer Martin December 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    My daughter Clara (she is the youngest)who is now 4 used to come into our bed almost every night. About 6 months ago she grew out of it. I really miss hearing her say “Mummy, can I snug with you” in the wee hours. I am now learning that my kids are little for a short period of time. Enjoy it now.

    daysgoby December 1, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I’m surprised at the number of commenters saying ‘this is beautiful, and my, won’t you miss this’ – because isn’t the problem that he *hurts* you? That he won’t settle, and snatches you bald?

    I would find it very hard to enjoy that. Kudos to you, C, that you can find peace while a small determined person is doing owie things.
    .-= daysgoby´s last blog ..george foreman’s sweater =-.

    Her Bad Mother December 2, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I don’t enjoy it. I’m trying to balance my NOT enjoying it with the other things about co-sleeping that I DO enjoy – the snuggling, the baby smell, the fact that someday he’ll not want to snuggle me and have me huff his head.

    It’s a trade-off, of sorts. And a surrender.

    Glamour Girl December 2, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Oh lordy I feel your pain. As I sit here at 6:20 in the morning and have already taken half a klonopin (sp?). Motherhood is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. I’m calling BS! And calling BS NOW….
    .-= Glamour Girl´s last blog ..When Faced With a Life-Altering Decision… =-.

    Janeen December 2, 2009 at 8:57 am

    My older was out of the crib at age 2 1/2. He’s now 4, about 18months have umm.interesting. Not wanting to sleep alone, wanting to be with us. But we did say from the get-go he may NOT sleep in our bed. If he wanted company so badly, he’d creap in the middle of the night and sleep on our (carpeted) floor. Which we didn’t like but we figured he’d tire of that really quickly. He didn’t, he loved it. So then we found ourselves enabling him, with a pillow, and a blanket so he’d not look so pitiful on the floor, or chill overnight. About a month ago, we called it enough on that floor thing and if he didn’t stay in his bed overnight, we’d put up the baby gate. I gave him a baby monitor and said if he needed me, he could just talk into that and I’d come for him. It took about 2 nights and we haven’t looked back- has stayed in his room and slept the whole night.
    Also interesting- when he goes to sleep at night, he tosses and turns in his bed and takes him awhile if left to sleep like that by himself. But if we let him fall asleep in our bed (Carry him into his own later when we come to bed) – instantaneous! He just loves to be among our sheets, covers, pillows. Apparently it’s his happy place and he’s comforted enough to relax and sleep much better. So, this tells me it isn’t so much a sleep thing as it is the separation/yearning to be with us, or at least our bed linens. Good luck!
    .-= Janeen´s last blog ..A Patron of the Arts =-.

    Shanna December 2, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    My baby went to a daycare we “fondly” refer to as Baby Jail (see the fondly in quotation marks?) That cured her of not sleeping when she was put in the crib. This woman could make a fortune with just the kids who’s parents commented here. ;) Now that the girl goes to a nice babysitter she is starting to want someone to lay down with her at night time. She will be 2 in January. Maybe it is just my kids as my son slept with me until he started Kindergarten at 6. But then he was at a similar Baby Jail until he was 18 months.
    Boy, reading through that sure makes me look like a great mother who can’t pick a daycare for her kids. They weren’t hurt and are stronger for it now, at least that is what I keep telling myself to get over the guilt. ;)
    Seriously though, anyone in SE Wisconsin need a sleep trainer let me know and I will hook you up with Baby Jail lady, she is looking for more kids to watch as 4 of left for greener pastures. Isn’t that one heck of a recommendation?

    Ingrid December 3, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Oh, I feel for you, and we made the same decision that you’ve made. Our girl’s 6 now and falls asleep on her own, usually in her own bed, and comes to ours in the middle of the night. There’s a recent post on bedtime routine at Are So Happy: http://aresohappy.squarespace.com/home/2009/11/30/the-bedtime-post.html, and while it’s very Waldorf-oriented, it offers much to think about.

    amy December 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I just stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago…and I LOVE this. It is so beautifully written and it was our struggle, too, until our surrender. I am right there with you!

    Redstocking Grandma December 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    We made the same decision when the oldest of our four daughters was 18 months old and never regretted it.

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