I'm feeling really betrayed today, mamas, and I need some support. Either some righteous indignation on my behalf or some sort of "let it go" response would be welcome. 's
I just started rehearsals for a play, my first play in about 3 years. I'm an actor and director, and I have really missed doing shows since having kids. I am also craving something of my own after so much time being a stay-at-home. My wonderful partner has been uber-supportive, and enthusiastically said he would be in charge of feeding our 3 yo DS and 15 mo DD and getting them to bed the 4 nights a week I'll be gone. Wow. Kind of a lot to take on after working a full day, but he has been insistent that he can handle it.
I came home early from rehearsal last night. As I walked in, I heard my DD crying forlornly, but in a muted way. I heard music playing on the computer. The whole house was dark. My partner was sitting at the desk, and said "She still awake." Yeah, I gathered. I walked toward the sound of her crying and saw that the bedroom door was shut. She was in her crib, in the dark, crying! She was shaking all over, and listlessly laying there, sobbing. It was heartbreaking! Our DS was asleep on the couch, not in his bed (also in the one bedroom.)
We have agreed since before our DS was born that we do NOT cry it out. We have always been in agreement that it breaks trust and hurts the child. We tried it once with him, and were horrified 5 minutes into it. Our DD has been harder to get down lately, and she has always been more vocal than DS was, but that doesn't mean you leave her alone in the dark to sob!
He has hinted lately that maybe that's the only way to get her to sleep - every kid is different after all. I have disagreed with him, and when we have tried putting her down to "self-soothe" I have sat with her and been close so she knows she's not alone.
I have 6 weeks of rehearsal, and we have been talking about me taking a 48 hour trip out of town in a couple of months to see a play I co-wrote produced in NYC. I really want to go on that trip, I really want to be in this play. But I am concerned about what might be happening at home without me, and it feels awful to not trust my DP to do the right thing by our kids!
We did not talk about it last night. He was so obviously ashamed, and I was so obviously angry. I emailed him after he left for work this morning, telling him I'm distressed, but I also understand being pushed to a point where it might be better if you aren't around the kid. I forgave him, and pleaded with him to please talk to me about this so we can decide together how to make this work.
Oh, I'm just so sad. I know one night of CIO won't do serious damage, but I also don't want his relationship with his daughter damaged. Any thoughts out there? Thanks for listening!
Wait until you talk to him before you decide how you feel about all this. I know sometimes my DH gets really stressed and the baby crying just does him in. I'd rather have him lay the kid down in a safe place and take a breather to collect himself than get pushed past his limits and start yelling or screaming at the baby. If you both agree that CIO isn't how you want to parent, trust that he had a good reason for putting her in the bedroom and that he's not turned into a callous monster all of a sudden. Crying for 15 min. is, IMO, less damaging than having an adult who is giving off super-bad vibes or yelling at her.
Does he have tools to help her go to sleep? My DH uses the Ergo carrier a lot if I am not home (not my ideal place for baby to start his night, but it's better than a wakeful kid and grouchy papa). I always leave pumped milk. He will sometimes lay in the dark with the kids telling stories and the 17 month old will eventually pass out. I have a friend who swore by a CD of gentle piano music - her daughter still listens to it at age 6 to go to sleep, so I think it made for a pretty powerful sleep cue. Papa's need to have their own "bag of tricks" (not like me, the one-trick pony, who relies on nursing to do the job).
I would also say to really look at the trade-offs you make to get a little of your own life back. One of those is that you cede some control over some of the parenting style/methods. The DH's way is never OUR way, but he and the baby will find a relationship that works for the two of them. Give him the space and support he needs to find his way through this new responsibility without feeling like you have to fix it or micromanage it. Maybe on his nights, he puts the kids in a double stroller and goes for an evening walk and they stay up a little later, or they go for a drive, or there's a little bit o' TV watching, or you come home to two kids who are still awake, but you get to go do your thespian activities. You will all survive this transition, and it will actually be good for all of you if you return to doing these things that feed your soul.
Wait until you talk to him before you decide how you feel about all this.... If you both agree that CIO isn't how you want to parent, trust that he had a good reason for putting her in the bedroom and that he's not turned into a callous monster all of a sudden...
...Give him the space and support he needs to find his way through this new responsibility without feeling like you have to fix it or micromanage it.... You will all survive this transition, and it will actually be good for all of you if you return to doing these things that feed your soul.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I wish I'd written here for advice before I emailed him this morning. I realize I wasn't trusting him. He's an amazing father, and we are almost always in agreement about our parenting choices.
You asked if he has the tools he needs, and the funny thing is - he usually has been the tool! Up until recently, he was the only one who could get DD to sleep. She wouldn't nurse down; she only wanted daddy's arms. Lately, though, she screams the minute I give her to him. And screams, and screams, and screams. Clearly, she needs a lot of mama at the moment. Bad timing for starting the play.
He tends to put her in a sling to help her go to sleep on him, but maybe I will suggest he try the Moby or the Beco - I have had success with both. It's also great advice to just let it be different with DP. If I get to go do my thing, I'm totally ok with coming home to an awake 15 mo. She is a night owl, no doubt, and when we just let her stay up, she's generally delightful to be around. DS is another story, and I could totally see the need to keep them separated so he can crash out.
Thank you to everyone for the empathy and advice. It is going to be a tricky transition, but I have faith things will be all for the better.
I would have had a really strong reaction if my DH, or anyone, let our DD CIO too. CIO does permanent neurological damage that causes adult stress related diseases. Here are a couple of articles http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/1998/04.09/ChildrenNeedTou.html and http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/linda_folden_palmer2.html . I'd have trouble trusting my DH if he did that. Of course he knows that CIO causes damage. We've talked about the specifics. Have you had a conversation with your DH about why CIO is a bad choice? It's ok to "let it be different" with each parent as long as that doesn't include abuse or neglect.