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Your Kids Don't Sleep? Neither Do Mine!

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Your Kids Don't Sleep? Neither Do Mine!

Hey, have you heard?  My kids don't sleep.

Yeah, I already know.  Because I talk about it ALL THE TIME.  Because it consumes my days and dominates my nights.  It causes me ridiculous amounts of stress and grumpiness and, well, sleeplessness.

OK, it's not that they actually won't sleep - more like, they refuse to fall asleep, won't even dream of staying asleep, and make it VERY CLEAR to me that they would prefer to stay up all day and be miserable than enjoy a peaceful nap in a cool, darkened room with the whir of a fan lulling them to sleep (seriously, what is the deal - who wouldn't want to take a nap like that!).

A rare moment that, even in the haze of the newborn days and moving, I was coherent enough to capture because I knew it would probably never happen again.  And I was mostly right.
When Jack was a baby, sleeping fitfully and waking frequently, I remember thinking, "It will be better soon!"  Surely, he would be sleeping through the night by the time he was a year old, right?  No?  OK then, by eighteen months...there was no way he'd still be waking up at eighteen months.  No?  OK, two?  Three?  FOUR???

Because he's three and a half now and still wakes up at night and wants his daddy to lay with him while he falls back to sleep.  And we oblige.

In part, because it's just easier than fighting it.

When we moved, we set up Jack's new room and made a big fuss about him having his own bed, in his own room.  He never slept in it alone though, because we were moving to a new house.  And he had a new sister.  All within a just a few days, his little world was turned upside down.  And that just didn't seem like the time to suddenly institute the "Sleep On Your Own, Kid" law that I always imagined we'd enforce.

And then there's Claire.  She sleeps with me.  Oh yes, she might take the occasional catnap in the crib.  But  for the most part, it's just easier to tuck her in next to me when I'm ready for bed.  Most nights, she wakes up several times to nurse.  Some nights, she's up so frequently I'm not even sure I slept when she decides to waken for the day (always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, no less!).

And naps?  Ha!  Naps are...rough.

But for all the complaining I do about sleep (specifically, *lack* of sleep), I know this is temporary.  Jack waking up at night and needing some cuddles to fall back asleep is nothing compared to the frantic night-wakings and non-stop night-nursing of his babyhood.  And Claire, for all the stress her napping issues cause me, is far easier than Jack was - and for this I am grateful.

When Jack was a small baby (maybe six months), I had this dream.

I dreamt that I had nursed Jack to sleep and was sitting on the couch watching a show when all of a sudden I realized I'd been watching TV for over an hour and I didn't have the baby monitor with me (in real life, I carried the baby monitor with me everywhere I went if the baby was asleep).  I panicked - practically having a panic-attack in my dream - and ran back to my room, where I had left him sleeping peacefully in the middle of the mattress, surrounded by pillows.

But my baby wasn't there.  

In his place was a ten-year-old boy, my own baby grown up, crashed out in his parents' bed after a long day of doing whatever it is ten-year-old boys do.  And I felt my heart slow down and thought to myself, "Wow...he grew up fast."

And I think of this dream often.  But even then...even though I *know* they're growing up faster than I can blink, and that someday I really will miss these days (probably when I'm too old to remember how tired I was, but still!)...I still get cranky and stressed out over sleep.  Sometimes, I need a reminder from someone other than myself that this is just a flash in the pan compared to the rest of this Parenting Journey.

A few days ago I was reading "How Yoga Works," when I came across this passage:

And as I read this verse about yoga while I rocked my sleeping baby, I thought, "Oh!" and these words spoke to me.

I always whine to Charles that I just want these kids to sleep, already! - but the reality is, they will.  I won't always be rocking this sweet baby girl to sleep, and before I know it Jack will be a teenager and I'll be begging him to get out of bed so he can mow the lawn (yes!).  As my days run together and I wile away the hours tucked in bed next to my darling girl thinking about how this feels like it will never end, it's already happening.

It's not lasting.  It's hard to see it while we are living it, but the kids are growing.  Every day, Jack is one day closer to teenager Jack (and I'm guessing he won't want his parents sleeping with him when he's a teenager) and one day farther away from baby Jack.

And I guess that is the whole point of this post.  To remember that this is temporary.  The exhaustion, the crankiness, the kids who don't sleep - before I know it, the kids will grow into some opposite versions of themselves I barely recognize and I'll be reminiscing about the days when all I had to worry about was who needed a nap.

So for now, I'll keep complaining (I'm not gonna lie), but I'll also keep this little nugget of wisdom in my back pocket for those days when I am really, really down - Things that cannot last, seem to us as if they will.  And hopefully, these words can see me through the next three years - SURELY Claire will be sleeping by then...right?!

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