The dim blue of the white noise machine that is currently rolling ocean waves through its speakers is the only light piercing the darkness in my son Corbin’s room. Sponge Bob is there staring at me from the corner, in front of the rest of his toys that are frozen, poised ready to leap to life from their respective bins the moment he wakes up. It’s 8:30 or so, and this is the first time he’s woken up tonight. Right now I’m practicing shushing meditation.

He wakes up 6-8 times a night, and my wife Alex and I have decided to try the “cry it out” method to break him of this habit that he’s formed. 11+ months of no sleep has turned us into bitter, angry night people. I’ve let him cry for 5 minutes, and now I hover over his crib, shushing in sync with the ocean waves. I rock back and forth, backing away from the crib inch by literal inch. It is a process that is laborious, boring, and mentally demanding. After 10 minutes or so, I’ve backpedaled to the door and make my exit; silent except for my continued, rhythmic shushing. The door closes and I head to the fridge to grab some juice as all the shushing has severely dried my mouth and depleted my saliva reserves. It’s then that I realize that I’m still shushing. Hmmm.

A couple of hours later I’m swimming in the ocean again, rocking side to side and shushing. Now I’m thinking of earlier and my trip to the fridge. The shushing had focused my attention on my movements. No commentary from my mind. Just shushing, and movement. Now I begin to wonder why all this seems like such a chore. Why is it that I would rather go out in the living room and finish watching Weeds with Alex? Isn’t this moment just as special? Then the switch just flips. It becomes easy. With the effort of a passing thought I made a determination that this subtle moving and shushing alone in the dark with my son was the better of the two options. And it became easy. Now I felt the comfort of my own shushing. My son stops stirring. Time to start sneaking backwards. Slowly. Carefully. Purposefully.

When I return to the couch I un-pause Weeds and the noise and light from the TV assault my senses. This is no longer the desired escape from reality it was a few hours ago. I’d rather go back in and sit down in front of Corbin’s crib and just sush. But then Alex leans over on my chest and I wrap my arm around her, and the calm and comfort return.



Filed under Buddhism, Parenting

7 responses to “Shhhh……

  1. I feel for ya, brother! Our little Samsara Toddler has not slept a full night since we got her. She is almost two now and I believe she has slept through a full night 3 times. I know this since it was just last week for two and last night for the third.

    My wife tried some Australian method that consisted of her slowly transitioning herself out of the baby’s room.

    I would carry ours all night, walking kinhin around the living room, barely awake while she wailed. It is a hell of an experience.



    • Australia gave us Ray Comfort, Foster’s, and Mel Gibson. I don’t trust anything they have to offer.

      And yes, it is a hell of an experience. Thanks for sharing.


  2. buddhasbrewing

    I guess we were lucky it only went three months for us. My son is a sleeper. He still naps for 1-2 hours and he just turned five yesterday. He’s been sleeping through the night since 2005. So…but I see what you are saying here. I’ve come to the same conclusion with bathing my son. He’s noisy and boisterous and happy. At the end of a long day these things can be very unerving, mostly the noisy. However, you just have to be mindful and present.

    The world is your zendo. Life is your practice.

    • I hate you.

      “The world is your zendo. Life is your practice.” Yes, I’m finding this to be true (very) little by little.

  3. That’s beautiful, and hits home. My little one is nearly 21 months and starting to sleep through the night more often. Sleep deprivation is a mind-altering condition and tests the mettle of one’s patience and willingness to pay attention, just be there and help the child.

  4. My son was not a sleeper. He started sleeping just before he turned five. I did enjoy the time we spent on the couch together though, in the night. It was quiet, and just us.
    As they get a bit older and can be reasoned with, bribery (stickers, money, treats) works well 🙂

    My heart goes out to you and your family!