Last month, I finally got my youngest son to sleep through the night. (Yay!) He has been long overdue for this milestone, but between relentless ear infections and breathing issues, it never felt like the right time. And I didn’t mind, really. This is probably our last baby, so waking up 2-3 times a night to snuggle wasn’t the worst thing. But then a looming work trip was on the horizon, so I dug in deep with my trusty gradual-wean method, and 14 days later (and literally the night before I left for my trip), he was sleeping through the night. Cue the choir of angels.

Except tonight, his big brother needed just one more cup of water at bedtime. And then another. And could I just please "sing, pray, kiss" again? Forty-five minutes after bedtime began, I finally crept out of the room, fingers crossed that I would finally be done for the night.

I am so desperate to be done.

When I first started my reconciliation journey, I was 21. The Civil Rights Act had passed 40 years prior, and even though racism hadn’t been eradicated in those 40 years (or the hundreds of years prior) now that I was waking up to it, the end had to be in sight, right? Surely in my lifetime, this problem would be solved and we could move on to the next injustice at hand. 

I wish I could just blame this juvenile attitude on my age, but I hear this from (almost exclusively) white folks all the time. Usually it comes out in one of the these kinds of arguments:

“I’m so tired of talking/hearing about race.”
“It used to be so much worse. Why aren’t people grateful that we’re making progress?”
“You know, I think it’s actually kinda racist to bring up the inequality—it just further perpetuates division.”

I cringe a little each time I hear these statements. One, they are incredibly unhelpful to the actual conversation about racism, and two, they are so dang unoriginal. 

When you are doing infant sleep training, all the books tell you to land on a literal script for the exact words you are going to say to your child to let them know they can expect that this is the time to go to sleep. My fear with the statements above is they do something very similar. These are not thoughts meant to elicit dreaming of a new day, or open up a dialogue in which someone’s pain and experience can be shared and cared for. They are meant to shut things down, to help someone (the statement-giver) get back to sleep. 

So when we find ourselves in a conversation where a sleepy response is given, we have one of two choices: We can let them go back to sleep, or we can try to wake them up.

jenny potterComment