Monday, November 4, 2013

My two cents on CIO

Following on my last post on Childism, and in an attempt to end all kids/parents-related hate out there, please allow me to tackle a sensitive topic.

I have been struggling to write this one. Because I know people I care for might be offended or just saddened and I do not want that. Please try to keep an open mind and I apologize in advance for the ranting sometimes but I guess I too am getting offended, saddened and tired by some unnecessary speeches (for lack of better terms).

Besides, the more I encounter issues of the same sort (and I do on a daily basis) the more I feel it is important to talk openly and frankly and without prejudice.

One of these issues is CIO (Cry It Out).

Every time I think about it, I remember Mad About You. It is one of my favorite TV shows actually and I find it smart and funny and very well done. But there is one episode I will never forget for totally different reasons: The Conversation.

When I first watched it, I was so impressed because the whole episode was shot in one take. No editing. No cuts. No mistakes. Pretty much like a play. All 20 minutes filmed in one single uninterrupted take. It was amazing because it added to the reality, the weight and the pain of these parents trying to "train" their baby daughter to sleep. It felt like it was never ending. Like in real life: no breaks, no breathers, nothing. Just one, long, heavy process.

This episode aired on December 16, 1997. I can't remember when it was that I actually got to watch it but I do remember back then, I wasn't married yet, let alone a mom.

But there is one line I can never forget. At the end, when baby Mabel finally stops crying, Paul asks: "Okay, so it worked?" And Jamie to answer with the most devastating voice: "We broke her heart". 

This goes to show, you don't need to be a mom or to have maternal instincts to know deep down, CIO is heartbreaking. I was hardly a young adult then and I knew it. So much in fact, I can't ever forget that episode and Jamie's line.

"Now she knows we won't always be there for her"

What I could not understand then, and still can't today is why would anyone want to be the first person to ever break their child's heart?

The nice packaging of "training your child", "teaching your child to be independent", it's all very nice but deep now, I think we all know CIO is all about the parents' comfort. I do understand parents need their sleep to keep some shred of sanity. Believe me. I do.

But just as a child cannot be trained to eat or walk or pretty much do anything by themselves in the first months of their lives, why would we expect them to become emotionally independent around that same time? Independence is a full-fledge achievement. It all comes together, as one whole.

Parenthood, it's inconvenient. It is difficult. It is exhausting. And yes, sorry to beak it to you like this but you did sign up for all this crap when you decided to have a baby!

A baby who since the beginning, has known nothing but the safety of a womb and who is suddenly "forced out", scared and helpless and who looks desperately for the only sense of safety they used to know. A mother. A voice. An embrace to feel wrapped and safe.

But no, all of a sudden, instead of that, we are supposed to train them to become emotionally independent.

Just saying it out loud, it sounds and resounds ridiculous!

God Knows it is hard enough for experienced adults to reach emotional independence, let alone a baby who spends days completely reliant on parents.

Why should the nights be any different? The baby's needs are the same, day and night. Why would the parents be available during day time but at night, and without any explanation, suddenly disappear?

What kind of insane, unreasonable and completely schizophrenic mixed message is that?

I have heard so much preaching.

I have even heard so much blaming.

For God's Sakes, parents need to quit preaching parents, mothers need to quit looking down on other moms and people in general need to be more sympathetic and kind, not condescending and hurtful.  

So apparently, I was the one at fault for being exhausted. I heard it so many times, from friends, from relatives and even from mere acquaintances who all felt they had a right to teach me how to be a competent mother.

Researches have been done, books have been written, and experts have spoken. Who am I to stand in the way of "science"? How can I be so uneducated and ignorant?

Why wouldn't I train my child? Don't I want to sleep and be all ready for a new day in the morning and ultimately be a better parent?

Of course I did.
Of course I do.

But do you know what I also did some times?

Cry. All alone. In the dark.
And it bloody sucks.

And "science", well it's not so clear-cut when it comes to CIO. Actually, it's still debatable and research goes both ways. Many have also proven how damaging it can be for a child and later on the adult that child becomes, to feel so terribly abandoned at such an early age. To feel so painfully let down by those he or she loves the most. The only ones they know and can rely on for mere survival but also for affection and love.

I will even dare to take this research argument one step further: just Google what happens to lonely children in orphanages. Some simply give up on life and let themselves just die. As ridiculous as it may sound, they die of sadness. No seriously. Of sadness and loneliness. It's absolutely horrifying but it just proves that emotional stability and love are as necessary as food and water. I think there's so much harshness out there, it is terrifying. And unfortunately, misery likes company and those who are supposed to care for these children are simply not qualified or emotionally able or paid enough and they just quit caring.

If you feel like I am exaggerating, why don't you try it? Yes, CIO. Go head and try it. On yourself that is.

At a moment of need, when you find yourself alone, or scared, or both, don't reach out to another human being (God Forbid). Just stay there, wherever it is you are (preferably in the dark). Just sit there, all alone. And cry it out.

See how it feels.

Sure, you'll get over it. Sure, your skin will grow thicker. But so will your bitterness. You will find it harder to trust someone will be there for you when you need them.

You will learn to be independent, sure. But you will also learn you are so incredibly alone, lonely and sad.

Why would you want to inflict all this weight on a baby?

Why would you want to inflict all this weight on anyone for that matter?

I am sorry but it is not a valuable lesson as some might like to claim.

Life is not so sad and lonely and it is not right to make a child believe this is how life should be.

Don't worry, pretty much like they will learn to talk, eat, dress and go to the toilet by themselves, they will also learn to become independent at night, with time, at their own pace.

Childhood should be about happiness and love and peace of mind.

Not about worrying and loneliness.

It's too much sadness and at the risk of being labelled the worst mother on Earth, I will never, ever convey to my children that I am not there for them. Life will bring so much shit their way soon enough anyway. They don't need their mom, the one person they rely on for safety and support to do that to them first.

Who knows when I will actually physically stop being there? Only then will it be acceptable that they learn to live with that loss. Before that happens, I am here. I am so here. I may be sleep-deprived, grumpy and sometimes mad, but I am so damn HERE.

You believe in CIO, fine. Do it.

But quit passing judgement on those who don't. Because your condescension and patronizing are a reflection of your person. Unlike you'd like to believe, they definitely are not a reflection of my competence as a parent.

Mamma Mia + Jad

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