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Controlled crying featured heavily in another book I bought when Sonny was a little baby. It was something that I was desperate to try; not because I was desperate for order and structure and routine and normality, but because I was getting a bit disheartened by the number of conversations I seemed to have which suggested that Sonny shouldn’t be falling asleep on me, whilst I lay on the couch, and that at four months I should be putting him into a routine.
Living without order and structure and routine and normality as I had done for so many years, and with tons of success, I was happy with the set up. In fact we all were; I got to look at his beautiful little squashy face, and also at the telly, both at intervals of my choice. Ed became butler because I couldn’t get up from my position as human mattress, and what man isn’t happy when he’s serving his wife cups of tea and sandwiches. Sonny was happy because he got to sleep on a human mattress. We were all happy. So it stood to reason that we were doing something wrong.
The book provided step-by-step instructions as to how we could fix what was working perfectly for us. Never one to trust my instincts, stick with my gut, or be confident in my own opinions, I read the book cover to cover, convinced that the method was the right thing to do and in doing so, I could become uber mother, and nail parenting quite literally by the book.
At 7pm we put Sonny in his cot. I did my best singing, and leaving his light up lullaby on, we left the room.
The crying began more or less instantly. I waited outside the door for the requisite 2 minutes. With each gear change that Sonny’s lungs took, my anxiety moved up a level too. After 120 seconds, or eons as they felt, I flung myself through his bedroom door as if fleeing a contaminated gas vacuum. Perhaps it was the surprise of this fevered entrance, or just a well-timed lung-break, but Sonny stopped crying at this moment and began breathing as if asleep.
I nudged Ed.
‘Ed’ I said. ‘Is he asleep’? T’was dark by this point, you see, and I was terrified to put the light on in case Sonny was asleep, in which case, I’d wake him up.
Ed grunted. Could have meant anything. I felt around in the cot until I touched something human. It was a foot. I tried to feel for a pulse through the foot and into my thumb, thinking that if I could find one, and if it was regular and steady, it might mean that he was asleep and that controlled crying worked and that I was a controlled crying success story, a bedtime routine legend; an uber Mum.
None of the above was true, I found, as Sonny began crying again. Instinct kicked in and I picked him up. He stopped crying. Ed informed me that I’d broken the first rule of controlled crying, just three minutes into our first attempt at it.
I thought about trying again. Could I suffer even another three minutes of controlled crying? When it distressed my son so much? When it distressed me? When we were probably less than one minute away from the season finale of Ashes to Ashes?
I carefully put the book back on the shelf, next to the one about weaning*.
In my house we don’t often talk about controlled crying anymore.
Till next week!
Uber Mum. X