Cry It Out
Excerpt from I Know This Much Is True
I sat on the floor outside his bedroom door, tears streaming down my face. He was 15 months old, and we were finally going the cry it out route. We had been living in an apartment previously, so I did everything I could to make sure we didn’t wake the neighbors with his every two hours waking and wailing. But now that we had bought a house, it was time for me to get a full night’s sleep, especially with the new baby coming in January.
It took 4 nights, and he finally slept. It was the most heart wrenching sound ever, hearing the baby that you dreamt of for your whole life, wailing for you to hold him to sleep.
A month later, we moved, and he didn’t sleep through the night again until he went to kindergarten.
And here I sit, 16 years later, tears streaming down my face, anticipating him crying himself to sleep. Thinking we abandoned him. Thinking we hate him. Thinking he hates us.
When he was 15 months old, he forgot those feelings by the time he got older, or so the cry it out experts say. He’s not going to forget this so easily. He’s not going to forgive this so easily, especially when the reasons he’s going aren’t so black and white. He’s not a door-slammer like I was. He doesn’t yell at us or call us names. For the most part, he does what he’s supposed to…when he wants and deems necessary. He has a job, and they love him. Adults are always so impressed with how well-spoken he is.
Being a self-proclaimed Hippie Mom, I thought it was important to give my kids a voice. To let them speak their mind and always feel like they were important, and their opinion held value. I never felt that way growing up (no offense, Ma), and I wanted to do things differently. I thought I was doing things better. I tried to parent with grace, looking at their actions and mistakes like I thought God looked at mine. How could I ask a child to do something the first time I asked, when I knew full well that as an adult, I didn’t do a lot of things that God asked? I wanted so badly to be like Jesus, full of forgiveness and understanding. Go and sin no more, seventy times seven, and all that.
But the thing that is supposed to go hand in hand with God’s Grace is that we are supposed to be grateful for that grace, and make the choice to try and abide by the boundaries He set forth for us. Grace and forgiveness isn’t a once saved/always saved deal, where you are covered regardless of what you do, and thus you can do whatever you want. Grace and forgiveness is a gift, and an opportunity to do better.
I’m not sure children really understand that the same way adults do. I was parenting from an adult point of view, from my end of the street, thinking that if I forgave and overlooked and made excuses, that one day, it would all be appreciated, and it would click.
19 months until graduation, and it still hasn’t clicked. I’m not expecting him to have his whole life planned out by now, or be a straight A student, or star athlete, but I do expect him to be an example to his sister, respectful to others who are unlike him, have a love for others, and try to live up to the potential that I know he holds within. There’s no glimmer of even one of those things, nothing I can really grasp onto in hopes that one day soon it’ll click. 19 months left to try and make sure my child doesn’t end up homeless, or an addict, or on a slab, or regretting not trying.
That’s the biggest thing. What will I regret more: him being angry at me for what could be a very long time but a higher chance he’ll be the amazing person I know him to be; or letting him stay on this path that is 100% unknown where he will end up?
So I’ll let him cry it out, hoping that someday soon, we will all sleep better.
Sitting outside this door is the second most heart wrenching thing, ever.
The forgiveness came sooner than I expected. What I didn’t expect was my regret of the decision I made, just three short yet long years ago. When I started on my deconstruction journey, this was one of the first things that made my heart sick…sending my child to military school for normal teenage actions. This is the cancer of fundamental, toxic church: extreme measures for human natures. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity for reconciliation with my child, there are many parents and children who don’t have this chance, whether it be due to stubbornness or fear. This is what keeps so many of us oppressed and hopeless: the inability to trust our own intuition, our God-given internal holy spirit, and the guilt that comes with just being what we were created to be: HUMAN.