So, last night Husband and I put The Moo to bed at her normal time with our usual routine of one story, two songs, plenty of hugs, kisses and “I Love Yous” and then into the crib.
After a few moments, I heard cries. Uh-oh. Even though she had done this at nap time a few days ago, this was still unusual for The Moo.
I immediately went in. Turned out, one of her beloved pacifiers (or “bops” as she has always called them), “Old Blue,” was on the couch next to her crib and out of her reach.
I was relieved. A problem I could solve. I handed her the bop, gave her a kiss and headed for the door with a happy exhale.
I started humming the Peg + Cat tune, “Problem solved… the problem is solved. We solved the problem. Problem solved,” when…
WAILS! SCREAMS! SHRIEKS!
I took a deep breath. Ok, she just went in a few moments ago, I’ll just continue the nighttime routine, read an extra story while I hold her and act like the crying, missing bop and my return never happened.
- Yes… I did another bad, bad thing.
I let Little Moo snuggle into my arms as I read her a “bonus” story, but when I went to put her back into the crib, the cries continued. “Don’t go!” “Mommy, I NEED you!” “Don’t leave me!”
One of the reasons people sleep-train around 3-6 months old is probably because their child cannot yet talk.
The pangs of guilt were upon me.
I had to think fast.
I didn’t want to revert to the days before she could self-soothe, but I wanted to make my little girl feel better. She needed me! She told me so!
I held her. I told her everything was ok. She had her bop and it was time for bed. I told her that I was going to hold her for another minute and then it was time to go into the crib.
After the minute, I tried to place her back into the crib, but she was affixed to my chest. I had myself a baby barnacle. I told her that if she went into the crib, I would hold her hand for a while.
I did. I eventually let go. (No easy task. Emotionally. Nor physically). I told her I was still there and I’d stay with her for a bit, but that it was time to go to sleep.
She again asked to sleep in our bed.
As much as I probably COULD have fallen asleep at 9pm, I knew I didn’t want to continue to feed this habit. It just wouldn’t be good for anyone.
I sat next to her. Every 30 seconds or so she would call out, “Mommy,” to make sure I was there. I would reply with a reassuring, “I’m here. It’s time to go to sleep.”
Then the calls came every minute and my reassurance continued. Eventually she would mumble, “Mommy,” and if I didn’t respond, she didn’t get upset. So, I waited for the next mumble, didn’t respond and again there was no reaction.
I took this as my cue to leave. As I rose, the floor creaked.
I sat back down. More creaks. And the cries crescendoed.
The nosiest part of any house is the few feet between a child’s crib and her bedroom door.
I again reassured her, “I’m here. It’s time to go to sleep,” and we began the cycle over again.
The cycle repeated about five more times. I tried starting the cycle with the bedroom door already open. I tried standing in the doorway for a faster getaway. But she knew. She knew I wasn’t right there at her crib. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, but she could tell I was headed for the door.
I had no idea what time it was. There was no clock in the room, and I dare not look at my lighted phone.
Had it been hours? Just a few minutes? I had no concept.
I sat, staring at the outlined shadows I could make out around the room and listened to the whir of the sound machine and thought… will I have to re-sleep train my toddler?
Was this the beginning of a sleep regression taking us back two years?
I couldn’t handle the prospect and, after what ended up being over an hour of dancing in the doorway (definitely not as fun as I imagine dancing on the ceiling would be), I did a Band-aid… I tore myself out of there hoping a quick getaway would be less painful.
I hoped that she was just so tired that after a few more squeaks, she’d fall asleep.
The wails were louder than ever. She kicked so hard the crib bounced. (Easy there… it’s a portacrib, she’s not The Hulk.)
I was at a loss. I was frustrated. I was broken. I was failing.
My daughter needed me and I couldn’t make everything ok. That’s my job as a Mommy. That’s what I DO! It’s pretty much my THING!
Husband went in and within 30 seconds she was quiet. And within 10 minutes, she was asleep.
I guess sometimes when you think you need Mommy, you really just need Daddy.
I was thrilled that he was able to calm her so quickly. But a part of me was jealous that I wasn’t able to do it (as Moo says), “all by myself.”
As parents, we often have to make split-second decisions. Should I stay or should I go? If I’m picking my parent/child battles… is this one to pick? Should I raise my voice? Do I guilt my kid into doing something? Should I make her eat three more bites or assume she’s just not hungry? Should I try positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement? Do I give my kid snacks to prevent a tantrum even if though she didn’t eat lunch? Do I cosleep with my child when she’s upset?
Day in and day out we make these decisions. And sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes we’ll truly never know.
We just have to continue to try our best for our children, (hopefully) learn from our mistakes, apologize when appropriate and never give up on our kids… or ourselves.
And while we sometimes feel like we have to be these super beings with all of the answers… parents are, after all, only human.
Something I hope I can eventually believe for myself.