Parenting has a humbling effect

As an old Chinese proverb says, ?Arrogance invites ruin, humility receives benefits.? And there?s nothing like parenthood to deal out humility in large doses.

Just when I think I deserve a big pat on the back for a job well-done, another misadventure?most often in the shape of one (or both) of my daughters?hits like a rock. And knocks me back a peg or two in the process.

For instance, say I?m walking through a store, making my way through a lengthy list. My daughters are happily riding in the cart. And then, a couple aisles away, I hear a child let loose. ?Thank goodness MY kids are being quiet,? I think, and I quickly return to the business at hand.

Then, as we are in the checkout line, my youngest starts in with a full-fledged, I?m-tired-put-me-to-bed-NOW scream while the oldest does an obvious potty dance, exclaiming, ?No, I don?t want to go potty, I DON?T WANT TO.?

Meanwhile, the cashier is oblivious to my distress, and continues to make small talk with me. I?m aware of the daggers being shot my way by other customers. And there?s no place to run and hide.

Instead, I take the bitter medicine without my spoonful of sugar and walk out the door with my head held high?albeit with a red-hot face.

For me, another invitation to ruin came in the form of sleep training. For those who spend time on my blog (, I?m sure you noticed a theme a few weeks ago. I was tired. I needed sleep. My then 10-month-old wasn?t sleeping. Therefore, I was a bleary-eyed terror.

I?d never been an avid supporter of sleep training. I suffered through the first year of my oldest daughter?s life as a martyr of motherhood. I thought I just had a baby who wouldn?t sleep. I thought with No. 2, things would automatically be better. It was worse?at least where sleep was concerned.

There are many sleep training methods. I?m sure they all have valid points. But when you?re that tired and frustrated, who wants to spend hours poring over books? Instead, I Googled. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Dr. Richard Ferber, aka Ferberizing.

In my pre-sleep-training mind, Ferber was a bad guy. What kind of doctor proposes letting baby cry and scream for hours just to get some sleep? Turns out, I had him all wrong.

Ferber suggests incremental cry/comfort periods. I followed his advice. (To read a play-by-play of our training nights, visit my blog under the March section). I got some sleep. My youngest now falls asleep within minutes (sometimes seconds) of being placed in her bed. And, she sleeps until the early morning hours. And my dark circles have diminished.

Standing ovation, right? Well, maybe for a couple nights. Then I found myself saying words I never thought possible, ?I wish my oldest would go to sleep like my youngest.?

Oh, the Mayan-ruin.

But, as any good parent knows, having children isn?t all bad. In fact, it?s not even mostly bad. I mean, how else do you develop overwhelming compassion for a mommy or daddy trying to divert a shopping disaster, or for the family who doesn?t get more than three hours of rest at a time?

Sure, arrogance invites ruin, but humility receives the benefit of a huge network of parents, all trying to make it through the day, one monster-under-the-bed strategy at a time.

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