When All the Sleep Books Lie – 3 Truths for Tired Mamas

I have a 13 month old and a 4 year old. It’s not really a secret for anyone who knows me that I think it took about 2-3 years for my now 4 year old to sleep consistently and without waking up. Even now he has weeks where he conjures up some reason to wake me up – so much so that I recently rigged a cupholder to his bed frame, keep a potty in his room, and programmed a toddler alarm clock to tell him when it is “safe” for him to get out of bed. 

I remember crying at night when I was pregnant with Brooke and feeling so worn down because my oldest child was still waking up. I remember one of my lowest moments when I screamed “I can’t do this anymore” in the middle of the night after hearing screaming from my child’s room only to be met with complete silence. It was as if I had scared everyone, my child, my husband, and even myself because I had seen a whole new side of myself that I didn’t like.

People would see me and I would have conversations with them – hoping to feel better or get something out of it. Out of pity they would comfort me by telling me that my second child would be a sleeper. People recommended new books and approaches. People shared their experiences and what worked for them.

I consumed it all. I prayed. I hoped. Then I had Brooke. While she is overall better than Eli at going to sleep, she still wakes up during the night quite a bit. Early on, she was a baby-wise baby for a hot minute. But then that ended abruptly, we entered a phase of constant sickness and teething – and it reminded me that even though I think I am in control, I am not.

It still at times feel unfair for me to be in this sleep desert, to stay in a period of life I desperately want to move forward from- while others seem to magically have babies who sleep through the night at 2 weeks or hit the milestone at the seemingly magical 6 month marker, or who love to travel places with their children without fearing the repurcussions involved with their children refusing to sleep in unfamiliar territories.

This place can feel pretty desperate. When you can’t easily go back to sleep after being woken up you end up Google searching questions like “what to do when your 1 year old is still waking in the middle of the night from teething”, looking for anything that could be a solution – or you are just desperate to find others in the same position you are.

I have learned forums are filled with conflicting advice. Sleep books don’t account for all the variables. Parents either forget or have completely different children. Life circumstances also play a factor that we can’t always control.

So I am personally done with trying to fix this period through sheer willpower. I am done crying and whining about it (fingers crossed). Instead I want to remind myself of some of the truths God has been pointing out to me in this process, and hope it will encourage others. If you are friends with me, please also remind me of these truths every chance you see me 🙂 

  • God will use this desert. The people of God were brought into the desert for 40 years, Jesus willingly entered the desert before he started his ministry , so we can clearly see that God intends to use desert times for his glory. He promises that this time and this struggle is not in vain. It may be really hard to know why it has to be this desert, why it has to be this long – but he knows us individually and he promises that who we will be afterward will be more beautiful than who we were at the start.
  • Get on with your life, with grace. It can sometimes feel like these daily struggles put us in a holding pattern: and our job is to simply wait for the storm to die down before we become intentional about our lives and callings. But since it’s more about Jesus and what he has already done we can in this time of weakness practice accepting things we don’t deserve, we haven’t earned, and we haven’t strived for. Let’s hold onto this most simple application of grace and see how we can move forward with this and this alone. When we don’t get as much accomplished in a day because we can’t think straight? It’s ok. When we are extra emotional and don’t know why, let’s admit our human weaknesses and ask him to help. When we are weak, he promises to be strong.
  • You will be delivered. The whole story of the Bible is a story of deliverance. So knowing we worship a God who delights in delivering, let us ask for deliverance – with the assurance it will happen.  Let us not doubt or go down the rabbit hole of despair (guilty as charged 🙋). Let’s open up our bibles and pray over the words of hope, and start believing that God wants to deliver us from our current struggle and can help us see his goodness to us in it.

So, all you other tired mamas out there – I see you. God sees you. Run to Him each and every day your feet hit the floor, relying on his strength, the freedom you find in his grace to get you through each day, and praise him for the wonderful gift from above that is coffee 🙌.

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