I think there’s probably only one or two things you can be really “about” as a parent, at any one time. For me, with my sleepless baby (and former sleepless baby), I have to be all about not leaving them to cry, and structure my mothering around that a lot of the time. So I co-sleep with Secondborn, because otherwise I’d die of being tired. I have no plans to nightwean him just yet, because he goes to sleep when I breastfeed him and I don’t have the resources to do any soothing that involves standing up. Preferably no sitting up, either.
So I do get a bit fed up with being told that “if I had a baby like [insert description here], I’d leave them to cry.” No, I didn’t with Firstborn when she took hours to go to sleep. I don’t with Secondborn when he wakes every hour some nights. I believe that babies do not cry unless they are distressed. I believe, and my experience with Firstborn bears it out, that when a non-CIO’d child sleeps, they sleep securely, and I’m prepared to go through some hell to get there. I limit the circle of hell I’m willing to descend to these days, though, and so I’m a co-sleeping, feed-on-cue freak.
Is it true that you need to look after yourself in order to look after your children? I don’t think that holds true for a value of “look after” that’s meaningful to someone who’s not a mother, not when the children are small. Craving little bits of time; craving a solo trip to the toilet or a cup of tea drained to the bottom before it’s cold; craving half an hour where nobody needs to use your body for anything: that’s not how other people live.
Gosh, I really don’t know where I’m going with this. Non-tired me would have. She had connected thoughts all the time.