How Practicing Gratitude Reframes Night Time Parenting

Night

It’s 3:38am and the rain is hammering down outside our bedroom window.

My husband is away on business. I’m parenting solo this week. My little guy woke up and demanded all the bed covers come off asking me to hug him and “sing mama”. So I’m pacing in the dark singing to my toddler.

The tug of sleep pulls heavily on my eyelids, but I stand here in the quiet black stillness softly swaying and singing. He is warm and relaxed in my arms, happy to have his needs met, blissfully unaware that mummy needs sleep too.

Here alone, it feels as though I’m the only person awake in the world. Silence wraps itself around me in place of the bed covers I long to return to; the creak of floorboards beneath my feet the only sound I hear above my own voice.

These are the tough times. The moments all parents know intimately. The weary, trying times. Trying in the way you would expect as a sleep-deprived parent, but also an opportunity for me to try a little harder. To dig deep, and be rewarded with priceless treasures.

Because while all I want is sleep and to return to my warm bed this is where the magic is.

The sweet knowledge that I’m the only person, in this moment, who can comfort his young soul. If I withdraw my love and don’t give him what he needs he’ll feel abandoned. Vulnerable. Insecure. And he’ll cry. Or I can choose to provide immediate security and comfort by holding him and singing in my terrible voice.

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This is parenting, pure and simple. The constant test of how far I can push and be pushed, how soft and malleable I can allow myself to become as I bend to the evolving needs of my child. As parents, we need to find the magic. It’s often hiding in the most unlikely of moments. Yet, when we uncover it parenting feels simpler. Smoother. Easier.

So, I choose to see this moment for the fleeting gift that it is. My eyes adjust to the darkness and I make out my faint outline in the mirror across the room. A powerful mama bear and cub bound by our entwined arms as we sway and wait for sleep to return. These fleeting daily connections we can make with our children often feel like chores.

Sometimes it takes a moment of darkness to shine a light on the privilege we are blessed with in being parents.

In challenging parenting moments, practicing gratitude is my savior, flipping negativity on its head. So, I am grateful to be my son’s sole parent this week.

I feel the weight of responsibility. It’s all on me. No backup. No family support. Yet, if things were different; if my husband were here now, maybe I wouldn’t find the magic. Maybe I’d be pacing in the dark resenting him for lying in bed while I sing to our son.

So I carry on in the wee small hours of the morning. If I can muster the positivity and selflessness to keep going, and be the branch bending in the breeze rather than snapping I feel fulfilled, happy and warm inside.

The intimacy stemming from these sleepy quiet hours deepens our connection. And by mothering my son, I’m also nurturing my own soul, nourishing and healing the child within me.

Love truly is a verb. I can’t stop smiling. And then I feel it.

My son’s little face melts into my shoulder. He relaxes and surrenders into sleep. We quietly slip back under the covers together. He nuzzles into me and I listen to the rain outside. I think of all the other parents out there quietly and gently doing the same thing right now and feel comforted. I know I’m not alone.

Claim your FREE Guide: The Lies Surrounding Infant Sleep That You Can Safely Ignore as a New (or not so new) Parent

* This post was originally published on 22 January 2016 and updated on November 6th 2017

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COMMENTS
  • January 26, 2016
    Priyenga

    I was moved by your article. It is such a beautiful moment you have chosen to share with us. I appreciate your honesty very much and also try to find the good in the difficult times. When my three children are making me tired, I will remember your story.

    • January 26, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you so much Priyenga. This post actually started as I paced the room and was texting a friend about what I was doing. Trying to reach out in the dark. I am thrilled it touched you. And in my mind with three kids, wow, you’re an angel. Love to see you here again and thanks again for your comment.

  • January 28, 2016
    Elizabeth

    This was such a wonderful read, it actually brought a tear to my eye. It also made me sad that my nights of rocking my daughter to sleep are now over. She keeps me awake by coming home late from parties now rather than wanting me to cuddle her! Oh, how I’d love to go back to those days. Thank you for taking me there for a few moments, it was a beautiful walk down memory lane.

    • January 29, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you for such a lovely comment Elizabeth and I’m so happy it touched you. I appreciate how you feel – my little man is only almost three and I am wishing we can be exceptions to the rule and somehow freeze time. He melts my heart on an hourly basis and I never want it to end. Parenthood is the best hey. Thanks again and come back and visit Raised Good any time 🙂

    • January 31, 2016

      Yes! This adds another element to her writing. We, as moms, often don’t consider the precious time we have–or better, the little time we have. My only daughter is just eight weeks old, and I’m already so blown away by her growth. I’m sure I’ll blink and she’ll be off to high school. This article together with your comment has me reaching for her heavy, sleeping body, wishing I can pause this moment for I know it will soon pass.

  • January 31, 2016

    I have to say, this is my first time stumbling upon your site, and I’m glad I did. This seems the perfect blog to follow. Not only does it look beautiful, but it offers honest, intimate, personal experiences that every parent feels but may not be able to express… to be able to read of another person’s parenting and be able to relate, clinging on every word…that’s also magic.

    • January 31, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you so much Melissa – I’m thrilled you like my site. And very kind words about my writing, I really appreciate it, especially in these early stages finding my way. Motherhood is such a life changing experience full of joy and magic so I hope to keep writing about the small moments that mean so much. Thank you again and happy to connect 🙂

  • February 02, 2016
    Iris

    As a Sinatra fan I was intrigued by the title of this post, not knowing what to expect. And let me tell you, it blew me away. I’m not a parent, and yet I understood every emotion you shared. There is so much beauty in this small, quiet story. Wow.

    • February 02, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Iris – what a lovely comment. You made me smile. I’m so happy the title caught your attention and that the post connected with you. Thanks again.

  • February 08, 2016
    Elizabeth Blake

    How lovely, Tracy! I especially loved your beautiful description of those moments with words like ‘quiet black’ and ‘silence wraps itself around me’…so beautiful.

    It reminds me of my own moments with my children and how exquisite yet excruciating they could be. It is through the self-sacrifice of motherhood that I am able to recognize those places in my soul that need transformation.

    I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for my children and I am forever grateful to them for that. Thank you for sharing your inspiration!

    • February 15, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Elizabeth and so happy you enjoyed the post. You are so right – I love your words “It is through the self-sacrifice of motherhood that I am able to recognize those places in my soul that need transformation” These little guys are sent to teach us I’m sure. To make us into the best people we can be. They shape us in ways nobody else can and make us dig deeper than we ever thought possible. Thanks so much 🙂

  • February 11, 2016
    Sarah McRae

    Love this article’s message, it has really resonated with me. Every time I am having ‘a moment’ like this with my daughter I think back to this article and it really empowers me. Sarah xx

    • February 12, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Aw, thank you Sarah. I’m so happy the post connected with you. It came from a very honest place as I paced the room soul searching and allowing myself to be happiest in the most unlikely of moments. Thanks so much for your comment – means a lot.

  • October 01, 2016
    Medlan

    I’ve just discovered this blog (thanks to my amazing hubby), I was tired and had just announced I was off to bed with our sleeping 4month old in my arms when he asked if I’d been reading your blog, he had stumbled upon it and assumed I knew it as he recognised many of your views and opinions in me. 3 hours later, I’m snuggled up in bed with the baby still peacefully sleeping in my arms wide awake enjoying catching up on your posts having finally found a parenting blog that makes sense!! Thank you (I think it helped him to realise we’re not alone in our methods too). I look forward to catching up on more during those sleepy feeding/napping cuddles.

    I had a moment similar to this a month or two ago, little one was particularly grizzly in the evening and nothing seemed to comfort him, I had a fleeting moment of wishing he’d just settle followed by overwhelming guilt as I reminded myself that he too presumably wanted to settle and was merely trying to communicate his upset to us. He did eventually calm and I sat up with him most of that night to keep him settled. Not quite as enchanting as your tale but a moment I remind myself of it on those occasions when your trying to do a myriad of tasks/chores and the baby is grouching, that he’ll be small for such a short period that every second is a blessing… even at his young age he seems to sense it!

  • November 07, 2017
    Amanda

    Thanks Tracy 🙂

    Yes I’m in the middle of waking nights and I’m in a country where the first question always asked of a mum is “does he/she sleep through the night yet?”. It’s tiring to say the least… Your post was deeply encouraging to me on a day when I really felt down. It made my heart warm, brought a smile to my face, and made me realise again how worth it and sweet the tough times actually are.

  • November 07, 2017
    Corinne

    As always, thank you. I needed this post right now. My Little is almost 17m. I have been reading your blog since his first few months and it helped me then, and it helps me now. I am tired. I miss sleep but I appreciate this gentle reminder to be grateful for the cuddles and not longing for my bed. My son has always done sleep his way. Now that means he starts his day at 430 sometimes. Which throws off my day. I know it’s not forever but in those exhausting moments it seems so overwhelming. Thanks for a reminder of the shift I’d like to make in those moments. <3

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