Beata, 2 ½, had always been a restless sleeper. It was a challenge to get her to sleep each night, and once asleep she would burrow herself into the side of one of her parents. She woke up screaming inconsolably from her naps each day and many times at night, as well. Sleep training was something that her parents decided they did not want to do, but Scott and Beth were tired. More than that, they knew that Beata was probably not getting a good night’s sleep, either.
It seems that sleep-deprived parents are given two choices: cry- it-out or just wait until they outgrow it. But is there another way? Was my son’s lack of sleep more than just an inconvenience? Was he trying to communicate something to me through his night waking?
In addition to learning how to show love, knowing a person’s love language is also extremely helpful to keep from hurting them. We have taken to calling this, the opposite of your love language, your “Hurt Language” (or “Hate Language” as my son likes to say, since he thinks that describes it better). Basically, if you criticize a person whose love language is Words of Affirmation, reject physical contact from a person whose love language is Physical Touch, or refuse to help someone whose love language is Acts of Service, they will probably feel completely rejected and unloved.
We read during easy times when things are going smoothly and everyone is happy. But more and more, as he gets older, we have moments of misunderstanding, disagreement, and frustration. We feel disconnected and it can be hard to come back together. So often it’s those times where he asks me to read because he knows it will recenter us both.
“I’m scaring my kids,” she said as she sat in my office one summer day. “What scares me the most is that I don’t know how to make this different for me or for them.”
This is a common theme I hear from parents. They’re feeling completely spent, whether they’re going through a rough patch with their spouse, have just begun the process of separation or divorce, or perhaps there’s stress because there simply isn’t enough support to parent effectively.
The baby was only 3 days old when I received the phone call. It was from a dad and I always know I’m working with a great family when dad is on the phone for the new mama who needs breastfeeding support. And it probably also means that they’re in distress.
The new baby girl, Sofi, was chomping at the breast every time she’d nurse. I knew this meant that mom was in pain and that the baby wasn’t getting much milk (or colostrum, which is the first milk), either. I started asking questions about the baby’s birth.
In the other room, a volcano seemed to be exploding. I quickly realized it was my 13 year-old son who had just gotten very frustrated with his iPod and launched it across the room. I was on the phone with a client and my husband was out of town. Seemed like an impossible situation just then. I wrapped up my session and went out to see what had happened.
Everyone wants to find peace. Everyone wants connection. But sometimes that’s just not our family’s reality. Maybe our reality is tension. Maybe there are disagreements and fights. Maybe we find ourselves disliking being around our child or the disconnection just feels bad to us and we want it to be different. Or maybe we’re overwhelmed. So where do we start when we’re far from a place of love, ease, and joy? How can we begin our journey to this seemingly elusive place?
When you give up, it might be too late.
When you lose all hope, it might be too late.
When all you can see is the darkness,
it might be too late.
From the time our children emerge from the womb, we’re bombarded with questions about how well our babies sleep and eat. These questions sound innocent enough, yet seem to seek that deeper question of how much our children depend on us, how needy they are, and how independent they are from day one. It is unspoken, but it seems that the better our answers are alluding to the un-neediness of our offspring, the “better” we are as parents. And new parents are vulnerable. Even if we don’t believe that our children shouldn’t be needing us, doubts can creep in unwillingly to even the strongest parent whose baby is getting up again in the middle of the night at (gasp) 8 weeks old. Or 8 months old. Or 18 months old.