Seriously, stop asking me how my son sleeps.

I wrote this in March when my son was seven months old.  He’s now almost 1 year old.  I find it curiously odd that people have not asked me how he sleeps in a while.

My son sleeps in 2-hour increments at night and does not nap much during the day.  I consider myself eternally fortunate when I get a 3-hour stretch, and I do all I can to maintain my patience on the up-every-45-minutes nights.

Overall, I am ok with this.  I didn’t get into the business of motherhood expecting restful 8-hour nights of sleep and endless amounts of me-time.  I like my life how it is, and I don’t stress out over the sleep I’m “supposed to” be getting.

What pisses me off to no end is when people ask me how he’s sleeping.

Every person who asks my son’s age usually follows with “how’s he sleeping?”  Every.  Fucking.  Person.

I’m touchy about sleep training.  I literally cannot have a balanced conversation about it because my feelings are too intense.  I recognize this.  I don’t impose my own beliefs or emotions on others because of it.

Because I’m touchy about sleep training, it follows that I don’t like to get involved in discussions about sleep.  My son does not sleep in a crib, he sleeps with me.  I do not put my son down when he’s “sleepy but not asleep” so he will learn to “fall asleep on his own.”  We go to bed together and he nurses to sleep.  I take care of him no matter how much he wakes in the night and don’t expect him to work things out on his own.  I am delighted by this very culturally unpopular arrangement.  I also don’t like to advertise it because it is my business, and I’m not interested in hearing any unsolicited advice about it.

So it follows that being asked how my son sleeps is a hot button.

My usual answer is:  “I have no complaints.”

This works… sometimes.  With people who don’t have children, and only about 0.05% of the ones who do.  The other 99.95% of parents who do have children are never happy with that answer.

“How many hours does he sleep at night?  Is he sleeping through the night?”

And then they proceed to tell me what torture it was for them to have their precious sleep broken by an inconvenient infant.  HOW DARE those little bastards be developmentally unable to take care of themselves when their parents so desperately need their 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep or they will suffer from anxiety attacks over the fact that they are not getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I had the worst encounter ever with my dental hygienist.  I claim partial responsibility by not saying my usual “I have no complaints.”  I was tired and she was scraping my teeth with that painfully sharp object.  So she asked how he slept and I kind of shrugged because you can’t say much when someone is scraping your teeth.  Then… “Is he sleeping through the night?”  I told her no, but thought I saved myself with a “but it doesn’t bother me.”

So then… ugh… she told me about how great here three kids slept.  Except for her youngest, who slept great until she was 12 months old.  So, apparently, she “read all the baby books.”  I jump in and mention something about a growth spurt at 12 months.  She concurs but then goes on…

“So we took the ‘tough love’ route.  We Ferberized.”  And then she went into exact detail about how she sleep trained her daughter.  How she let her cry, went in after a few minutes, didn’t pick her up or talk to her but just put her back down and patted her back, then left again.  And it took three nights for her daughter to realize her needs were not important that she could go to sleep on her own.


I kept quiet and seethed.  I stopped engaging.  What can you say to someone who is wielding sharp objects?

I come to find out later in the conversation I couldn’t escape that her youngest daughter was adopted from China when she was 10 months old.  So basically, she slept great those first two months she was with her new family, and then, as she was still building trust, her adoptive parents decided that their sleep was much more important than continuing to build trust with their new little daughter.

So you see why I avoid these conversations?

And why I can’t seem to find a way to avoid them?

About Jennifer

Middle-aged working mother of a little guy. Also a Barefoot Books Ambassador. Prone to cooking, ranting, fiction writing, and musing.
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