A friend of mine recently shared with me her struggle with sleep training. After four days Baby's score was FOUR, Mom's score - ZERO. I well remember those days. As a new Mom I spent hours trying to figure out (and control) Katelin's sleep schedule. We all struggled through those first few months. There was so much screaming, soothing, rocking and more screaming. In the midst of this, we moved across the country -- away from the helping arms of family (who gave us a rest from the screaming once in a while). Through it all, I tried to control. I tried to win.
The problem is, when your kids lose, it is impossible for you to win - in the long run. Katelin and I often have little battles. I should know better, but I just forget. These battles begin when I say, "Katelin will you _________? "(Fill in with any small random task). Sometimes she complies, but often the simple request is met with strong words. Fighting words. In my weakest moments, I engage and the battle begins. In the end, I may get Katelin to comply with my request, and I might feel like chalking this up as win. But the reality is that I've actually lost. I can't really count it as a win, unless I have figured out a way to get my five-year-old to work with me happily. Without a win, more battles, and therefore more chaos, will follow.
Even without the battles, motherhood is chaotic. It is a baby refusing to sleep - but melting down in tears from the exhaustion, a three year old drawing circles with marker on your carpet (even though he should know better), a five-year old angry because you still haven't played Go Fish with her, and in the midst of all of this, sometimes it feels like your kids really are out to get you. It feels like they are purposely trying to make your life miserable. Like they are trying to win...but they aren't.
They are just being kids. They're just learning. Turns out, the baby is teething and she is in a lot of pain. The three year old is just fixated with writing and takes any chance he can get to practice (good preparation for school, right?). The five year old is feeling ignored and needs just five minutes of your attention. In this situation the only way to win is to do the best you can to help them. You give the baby tylenol, a teething ring and hold her as much as you can. You give the boy some paper, some washable crayons and then you show him how to draw a stick figure. You sit down, with baby in arms, and attempt a game of Go Fish.
At the end of the day, you probably won't have your laundry done, your baby may still not have had a nap, you might be eating crackers, cheese and grapes for dinner, but everyone will have won.
And if it still feels like you've lost, at least you've all lost together.