I was invited to dinner with a bunch of influential supermoms in the baby industry a while ago, which provided a platform for some interesting conversations. As with all informal chit-chat, the conversation quickly turned to a “what do you do for a living” refrain as the group of entrepreneurial women sussed out who to build future connections with.
“You do WHAT?” The sexy blonde with the oversized head band asked as I explained to her that I am in fact a sleep coach. Her untactful outburst was heard just as the table’s conversation lulled, so suddenly eight middle-aged women all stared at me in silence. “I am a sleep coach,” I replied calmly – as this reaction did not come as a surprise to me. “I help moms and dads who have babies, toddlers and children who struggle to sleep”. “Oh….” said one mom… “You are a sleep TRAINER!” The atmosphere in the room suddenly became so tense, you could cut it with a knife.
Somewhere in our journey as adults, the heated debate of sleep-coaching has made the words “sleep training” barely worse than the dreaded F-word. This alarming (and at times judgemental reaction) boils down to the blatant fact that as parents we never give each other any slack. We judge. We criticise. We gossip. We blast our opinion on how one parent’s parenting ability is CLEARLY damaging another parent’s child’s brain development. When did we all believe it was admissible to become so nasty to each other? When did it become acceptable to be fake, hypocritical, obnoxious women (some even with oversized headbands!)? Most of the time, our opinions are unfounded and not well researched. It might come as a shock, but not everything that is shared or trending on Facebook and Google is true….
To the haters (who’s gonna hate hate hate) I’d like to place you at another table with the single mom who phoned us in 2012 with the sleeping pills in her hand, wanting to commit suicide because she “just couldn’t do it anymore”. On the one side of the table I’d like to put Lucy* who cried next to me on the couch for the 90 minute consultation because her anxiety was causing her to lose it, and sleep deprivation was a large contributing factor. Next to her I’d sit Amanda* who was busy sleep training her child when she found Good Night, but we educated her on reflux and how she could help her baby get out of pain. I would also invite Andrew* who cried when he spoke to me on the phone as the sleepless nights were wrecking their marriage. And I’d include the pediatrician Ntombi* who was trying to help babies get better and yet working with them on only 2 hours of sleep because she could not find the golden nugget to get her own little nunu to sleep.
What would the haters say, when they look into the eyes of these parents? Would they tell them that modern society has transformed their thinking negatively and that they chose to become parents and they should just “suck it up”? Would they tell them how the problems lies with them – that they are selfish in wanting to function normally?
At my imaginary table I’d also have Mary* – A very influential clinic sister and baby “specialist” with her own practise, who encouraged me to rather choose another profession when I visited her a month after gaining my qualification. In her opinion “This sleep coaching thing is just not working for most moms”. I am so thankful that I did not listen to her that day. And that it has worked for the 1890+ moms whose lives Good Night has influenced.
Back at the breakfast of so-called supermoms, I smiled as I pick up my Chardonnay (it was a late brunch)….. The debate is still going on… “I read that….”…. “You know MY baby…” … “On Facebook the other day….” …It’s exhausting to listen, but I do. And I stay quiet. Because as with all things parenting it is not my place to take a position where I am not being asked for my input. And you – beautiful mom with the oversized headband – you continue to rock your role as a parent, even with your ridiculous uninformed opinions.
I’ll just shake shake shake it off. Cheers.
*Names changed…. Obvs.