Why I rock my children to sleep

Husband and I were never really keen on the whole “sleep training” schtick. We tried it a bit with our DD1 (the bear) because we were new parents and “everyone” said that a baby, by 10 months, should be able to fall asleep on her own and should sleep through the night. Afterall, that’s what good babies do, unlike those bad babies… knockin’ off liquor stores and the like. (Tee Hee.) Needless to say, overly connected parenting instincts won out and “sleep training” was pretty quickly abandoned for the old reliable stand-by: for mama= nurse child to sleep; for daddy= rock child to sleep.

It’s been 3 years since we had our first child and we have since added a second daughter (the dragonfly) to the mix and we are still parenting our children to sleep. The Bear weaned at 30 months, but she still gets rocked to sleep… or a least to very, very, very drowsy (then she’ll ask to lay down in her bed) and the Dragonfly, at 10 months, is still nursing to sleep. (Actually, since she snoozes in Mama and Daddy’s big bed, she nurses most of the night. But hey, that’s kept Auntie Flo at bay since her birth.) There are days and nights that it can be frustrating at how long it’s taking for one of the girls to go to sleep, or in the case of the Dragonfly, stay asleep, but I try to remind myself that those moments of nursing and rocking are “Mary” moments in my “Martha” day. (See Luke 10:38-42)

We are such busy, busy, busy people that we sometimes look at “downtimes” as a waste of our time. Instead to relishing quiet moments, our minds are a-buzz with “everything” that could be done while we are just sitting there. But for a mom, especially a nursing mom, those times of nursing and rocking and sitting provide the needed breaks and recharges that one might not take for themselves.

You hear from varying parenting “experts” about the importance of kids learning to fall asleep on their own at an early age. But for me, it’s hard to do because I know one day…

… I won’t be able to rock my babies to sleep anymore.

What are your recharge moments in the day? Do you take “Mary” moments in this “Martha” world? What parenting “rules” do you love to break?

Pax Christi!



Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, life, mothering

7 responses to “Why I rock my children to sleep

  1. tina

    Don’t you just love today’s Gospel. Tonight I played Martha and made an amazing dinner for my family, sat in the dining room, with the fine china and even kid wine and then sat back as Mary did and soaked in every moment, every word, every facial movement of my children. What a blessing not to worry worry worry! We all need more Mary moments with our children. As Father said today, neither Mary or Martha were wrong, just one a bit better than the other.
    God Bless You Karianna!

  2. Melissa

    We (OK, I) parent our 8 month old to sleep and generally break all of Grandma’s anti “spoiling” rules because, as a friend’s husband so brilliantly put it, making our child cry unnecessarily is not one of our parenting goals.

    It was a struggle to let go of all the “important” stuff I “had” to do in order to stop and meet his needs. Now I realize that this time when he needs me so much really is short and I am soaking up every minute.

    • Hi Melissa!
      Thanks for visiting! Whenever Grandma’s talk of spoiling kids by attending to them, I think of what Dr. Sears has said: Fruit on the counter spoils when you DON’T pay attention to it, not when you do. Hope you are enjoying your little boy!

  3. Kimberly

    karianna ~ i was with you. i could never let them cry it out. i always rocked my babies to sleep and loved every minute of it. eventually they laid down to go to sleep on their own. but if they cried in the middle of the night i would sleep walk into their room and rock away! i was rocking teagan when i was in full blown labor with kammy. water broke shortly after i laid him down!! mine are too big to be rocked anymore, although not to big to cuddle with me. savor every moment. i have two well adjusted children who sleep just fine. enjoy!

  4. OK, I am not Catholic (or even religious) so I don’t get the Martha reference, but I definitely get the urge to hold and rock and PARENT your baby to sleep. You don’t get to stop parenting just because the sun is down, it is your job to comfort your children. Mine is 2.5 and sometimes he still wakes up in the middle of the night and crawls in bed with us, other times he sleeps through the night, but he is ALWAYS parented to sleep, either nursed by me or snuggled by daddy.

    • Thanks for visiting, Elita! The basic thought behind Martha and Mary: Jesus went to visit Martha and Mary. When he got there, Martha started buzzing around, getting food, drinks, basically everything needed to make a guest feel welcome. Her sister, Mary, copped a squat at Christ’s feet and listened to him and chatted with him while her sister worked. Martha got irritated and asked Christ to tell her sister to help her out. Jesus acknowledged that yes, there was work to be done, but Mary has chosen the better part because she chose to spend time with Christ rather than worry about everything else.

      That particular Gospel tends to resonate with moms… mostly because we have so much to do in the day that trying to fit prayer in can seem a burden when it should be the forefront of our actions.

      And, of course, you know I heart your blog, so I am honored that you visited AND commented!

  5. I’m with you on this one! My DD is only 6 months, but she rocks and nurses to sleep every night.

    I love what Melissa said, about crying unnecessarily not being one of her goals because that statement is SO true in my life. It breaks my heart to see a baby crying for a need that isn’t being given to them. They are little for such a short time and giving them unlimited love isn’t going to spoil them. My daughter has fallen asleep without nursing quite easily when she’s with my DH and a few times with me as well. Honestly, I don’t often give her the chance to do that yet. 🙂

    Not to mention, why is it such a big deal for children to sleep through the night? I don’t usually sleep through the night…I wake up to go potty or get a drink. Why shouldn’t they?

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