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Macy Robison

June 13, 2012

We sat with my pediatrician at my daughter’s twelve-month checkup. My daughter had been growing and was right on track, progressing the way a little girl should. But I had a pressing question for the doctor: Will I ever sleep through the night again?

At about six months, my daughter started sleeping through the night. This went on for a few blissful weeks, until she suddenly started waking up screaming at the same time every night. My husband and I determined she was going through a growth spurt, and started giving her an extra feeding. Then she developed the habit of waking up for that feeding every night—even when the growth spurt was long over. We tried letting her cry it out, but she’s a very determined little lady, and she wore us out. The feedings continued. We were exhausted.

The pediatrician was our last hope. And mercifully, she had a few great suggestions—keep her bedtime music on all night long, put a few extra binkies in the bed with her, and let her figure it out.

Let her figure it out. That’s hard. It’s hard to listen to a baby cry.

When my daughter was a newborn, my husband and I would drop what we were doing and go right away when she would cry. She was so little and inexperienced. And we knew she was crying because she really needed something, and because  we knew we could help, we came to her rescue.

But as she’s gotten a bit older, we’ve learned that helping her right away when she cries isn’t always the best thing for her. The nighttime feeding episode made that abundantly clear. So, now we let her cry sometimes. Because sometimes (especially in the middle of the night) what she wants isn’t what she needs. And in those times, even though we still hear her, we are helping her the most when we don’t run to her rescue right away. We are helping her the most when we let her figure things out for herself.

It’s interesting to me that in the scriptures, prayer is often referred to as a cry. In Alma 34, for instance, we’re specifically instructed to cry unto the Lord. We are to cry in our fields, over all our flocks, in our houses, and over our household at morning, mid-day, and evening. (That seems like a lot of crying to me, but perhaps that’s just my perspective as the mother of a toddler talking.)

When I was small, I remember that my cries to the Lord were almost always answered. As I’ve grown and gained experience, sometimes my prayers feel like unanswered cries in the night that no one can hear. But I’ve learned that isn’t true. My cries are always heard. My Heavenly Father always hears me. And because our Father in Heaven is perfect, I know that my cries don’t tire him out like my daughter’s earthly cries tire me. As His daughter, I need to remember that just because I’m not getting the answer I want, it doesn’t mean I’m not heard. It just means that maybe the thing that I’m crying and praying for isn’t coming to pass because it isn’t the best for me. Or maybe I need to wait a little longer. Or maybe I just need to figure it out for myself.