...A good night's sleep,In my next life, I'm going to come back as a millionaire.
A good night's sleep.
Gee, if I could only have a good night's sleep,
Then I could wish you merry Christmas!
Well, actually, first I'm going to come back, then I'm going to write a know-it-all parenting book, and THEN I'm going to be a millionaire.
Seriously, this parenting-book racket is huge. Even I -- who am totally on to the fact that it's a racket -- have invested some serious currency in it. At one point a couple of months ago, I was going to pile all my books into a stack, then have Rusty stand young Master Sam next to it and take a picture to post here. You know, so you could see how big he is... expressed in parenting-book units. I don't know why I didn't do that. Probably too busy reading parenting books, I reckon.
For those of you who don't have kids, this is how the publishing industry sucker-punches you:
They know that, no matter what you're doing with your baby at any given moment, as a first-time parent you're secretly convinced you should be doing the opposite. Is your baby sleeping? Then you're concerned they're not getting enough stimulation. Or that they're developing flat head syndrome. If you're reading to them, you're fretting to yourself that maybe they should be getting more tummy time.* If they're happily playing by themselves, you worry that you're not giving them enough "quality time." If you're in the house all day, are they getting enough socialization? If you're out of the house, are they getting too much stimulation? Are they eating enough? Or too much?
And then there's sleep (though, when I write my bestselling book, I'm going to do what the pros do and use the terms "sleep issues" and "sleep solutions").
Which brings me to my point: here at Casa Doppelganger, we are experiencing "sleep issues." Fortunately, there's a wealth of literature purporting to offer us guaranteed "sleep solutions." Unfortunately, most of this literature directly contradicts itself.
Let me tell you something: these sleep experts are a bitchy, back-bitey crew. They rarely mention their opponents by name, but will snidely comment on the other camp's techniques using that camp's specialized jargon (in quotation marks, of course). This is meant to create a feeling of solidarity among their readers, and thus discourage bandwagon-hopping. (We first-timers are a fickle, edgy lot.)
Let me give you an oversimplified tour of the baby-sleep-theory arena.
Over here in this corner, you've got Dr. Sears, proponent of something called "attachment parenting," which recommends "the five Bs": "babywearing," "bedsharing," "breastfeeding," and two others that I forget. Um, boondoggling? Butterchurning? No... those don't sound right. Anyway, opponents of Dr. Sears consider attachment parenting nothing but hippie, pinko, overly permissive parenting that breeds spoiled monsters.
And over here in the opposite corner, you've got Dr. Ferber, for whom the term "Ferberizing" was coined. Ferberizing is not, as you might have guessed, a deviant sexual practice involving stuffed toys and a vacuum cleaner, though I can totally see how you got there. It involves letting your child cry in his crib until he learns to "self soothe" and fall asleep on his own. This doesn't sit well with the Dr. Sears folks, who consider this approach -- commonly known as "CIO" or "crying it out" -- tantamount to child abuse. They would advocate that you "parent" your child to sleep in the "family bed" where you all "co-sleep" together.
The problem with these approaches is that they're too polarized. One skews hippie, the other type A. But what about people like me, type A hippies? What the hell are we supposed to do?
Oh, and don't even get me started on the advice of the well-meaning know-it-all non-experts you run into in your day-to-day life, who conclude their theories with a confident, "Well, that's how I was raised, and I turned out okay." No offence, but no, you didn't. Don't take it personally, but you're not okay. Frankly, I don't know anyone who is. If I did, I'd just call their mom and ask what she did.
And I'm certainly not saying I turned out well, either. I'm a raging insomniac. Fortunately, now I know whom to blame. Though I have a feeling that if I go home and ask my mom if she attachment parented me or Ferberized me, she'd just look puzzled, smile kindly, and ask if she could fix me a fried bologna sandwich.
What REALLY gets my goat is that it's not enough for these so-called sleep experts to make you feel like an incompetent boob: they also love to tell you the horrific long-term psychological damage you're doing to your child if you don't follow their teachings. According to the Ferberites, if you don't "sleep-train" your child, you're setting her up for a life of poor workplace performance, depression, and reliance on pharmaceutical sleep aids. No one wants that, right? But if the Searsians are to be believed, Ferberizing your child will leave him with a virtually untreatable psychiatric treatment known as "reactive attachment disorder"... essentially a sociopath but minus the violent tendencies.
How I long to go back to my third trimester of pregnancy, when I'd read a few baby books but didn't yet have a baby. I knew everything then.
*For the uninitiated, "tummy time" is a concept that was invented by childcare experts for the sole and exclusive purpose of driving new mothers absolutely nuts.