I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. My little one is teething and has a cold which makes for some pretty sleepless nights. I don’t like it, but so far I have been able to put aside my needs (for sleep) in order to give him what he needs (cuddles, milk and being walked in a sling).

But in the early hours of this morning I suffered an excruciating cramp in my calf muscle. I woke up in agony and unfortunately, in my haste to sit up and start rubbing my leg, also woke up the baby who was sleeping alongside me. The cramp subsided after a few moments but left me with a very sore leg and all I wanted to do was keep it warm, gently rub and stretch the muscle, and generally nurse myself back to sleep. But the little guy had other ideas. He wanted milk – fine, I lay down to feed him. He wanted a new nappy – fine, I got out of bed to fetch a nappy and change him. He wanted to be rocked and cuddled back to sleep – not so fine, walking was painful, the cold air on my leg threatened to set off another cramp and I was afraid to move too far from the bed in case I needed to suddenly put him down if another cramp started.

Our needs were in complete conflict and the end result was I was in tears of frustration, he was grumpy and unsettled and no-one was getting their needs met. How is an attached parent supposed to deal with this?

I think this kind of situation calls for the advice given here by Scott Noelle. I’ve been subscribing to his Daily Groove emails for a while and generally find them interesting but a bit beyond me. However this one has struck a chord. Particularly this bit:

In other words, you are more likely to get it ‘right’ if you feel free to get it ‘wrong.’ This is almost identical to how unconditional love works.

Even simpler, when you claim your freedom to choose, there’s a good chance you’ll discover that you don’t mind fulfilling your child’s “demands”; you just didn’t like the feeling of no freedom.

So if I am understanding this correctly, if I accepted my freedom to ignore my son’s cries while I tended to my own need to care for my leg, then I would feel better about meeting his needs before my own because it would be my free choice? Hmmm, interesting idea, wonder whether it would have worked in practice. I really hope the exact same situation doesn’t arise again any time soon, but I’m sure there will be another opportunity to put his theory to the test. Just need to get my head around it properly first…

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