At 9:37pm last night I hit my breaking point. I was exhausted, hungry, blurry-eyed, on the brink of a migraine and my child was fighting sleep. She had been fed, bathed, changed, rocked, nursed and had been up and down, screaming, for the last hour and a half.
And that’s when I decided, for the first time, that WE needed to cry it out.
I kissed her forehead, placed her back in her crib and walked away, leaving the chorus of her cries behind me. I shut her door, sank to the floor, and cried with her.
We cried it out together for the next 3 minutes, which felt like hours. And, although we cried for different reasons, in many ways they were exactly the same.
We were tired, we were lonely and we were confused about exactly what we were supposed to do.
We are both going through this together and there is some comfort in that. She is still figuring out how to be a baby and I’m still figuring out how to be a mother. She can’t understand why she needs to sleep and I can’t figure out how to take care of both of us without having enough of it.
Do those 3 minutes of tears make me a bad mother? I’m not sure. They made me feel like one. In fact, I have never felt worse. My child was crying and I didn’t know what to do. But I did know enough to realize that I was at my breaking point, and the best thing for both of us was for me to put her down and walk away. Because getting frustrated with a toddler doesn’t solve anything. Telling someone to go to sleep that doesn’t quite grasp what the word sleep means yet is pointless. So I walked away, and it broke my heart, but I have no regrets.
But as I sat on the floor, my ear pinned to her door, and listened as her cries subsided and her breaths deepened, I realized that it was just the first of many nights that we were going to end up crying it out together.
Over the years we are going to shed many tears with eachother. From her first fall, her first failure and her first heart break. She will cry because it hurts and I will cry because she’s in pain.
Because we are in this together. Her and I, mother and child. Through the tears, the frustration, and the pain, I know that for the rest of her life I will always be metaphorically sitting outside her door and crying with her.
Because no one has all the answers. And that’s ok. Last night I couldn’t tell her that she was crying because she was exhausted and she would feel better when she falls asleep. And 15 years from now I won’t be able to tell her that the first boy who broke her heart is irrelevant compared to the man who will eventually hold it together. Because explaining sleep to a toddler will be exactly like explaining heartbreak to a teenager. Or curfews, or the value of good grades, or why she can’t ride her bike in the road.
She’ll think I’m mean and she’ll cry because she hates me. Just like she cried tonight because I left her in her crib. But what she won’t know is that for every tear she ever sheds I can promise that I will shed two more.
Last night was the first tears of many, but I hope one day she will know that when she cries, so will I, and when we need to, we will always cry it out together.
Heather Anne Naples is a mother, a wife and a writer. She lives in Orlando, FL with her husband, their 4-year-old daughter and their 4 rescue dogs. An ongoing health battle changed Heather’s perspective on life and inspired her to use her voice and her passion for writing as a platform to encourage others to love the life they have been given. Find her on her website, on Facebook, and Instagram.
Girl I’m with you! The first time I decided to let my daughter cry it out I was a MESS. There are so many options on this, but you do what works for you!
What a beautiful story. I’m not a mother yet, but this is definitely inspiring!
This is a great piece! Becoming a mother for the first time is so difficult and everyone has their opinion on “how to do it” You just have to do what works for you and your family.