I feel like so much of how my day goes is dependent on how much sleep I get. And how much sleep I get is mostly determined by how my kid is sleeping. Becoming a parent, I knew what I was getting myself into, and I was so very grateful when infant Abby began sleeping through the night so early on. I should have known better than to rejoice about this accomplishment. Because over the past two years, sleep has been a huge problem and I wonder if said rejoicing caused all the jinxing to unfold.
In October of 2011 I wrote all about the sleep woes of Abby from 15 months to nearly 2 years-old and how this working mom found herself as a part time co-sleeping parent who ended up getting her kid a floor bed. However, Abby still wasn’t falling asleep on her own, so last summer, as Abby was 2.5, I decided it was time to re-sleep-train her. I waited till I was out of school for the summer to do so because this working momma needs her sleep and wasn’t ready to take on this monster while my 5:30am alarm always awaited me. (NOTE: I totally get how lucky I am as I teacher that I can wait for said breaks to take on the task of sleep-training. If I wasn’t, I know I’d figure it out just like so many of you do.)
In just a week’s time, my kid was finally able to fall asleep on her own, and stay asleep throughout the night. Then just after she turned three, the sleep problems began again. It was during winter break when both my husband and I were off of work that Abby began waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to climb into bed with us. Over and over. Some nights we’d put her back in bed 4-5 times. We had thoughts of keeping her door closed as we do have a kid proof handle on the inside of her room for those tough time-outs that happen occasionally, but my husband and I knew it wasn’t right for us, especially as Abby’s room is down the hall from ours and we have no video monitor to keep an eye on her.
We decided that if it was 5am or later in the morning when she came to us, we’d just put her in bed with us since we’d be getting up sooner than later. But still, I’d have my nights where I was waking up every 2-3 hours to her trying to climb into our bed. We thought about the sticker chart again, but my three year-old didn’t care about that. At night, as we tucked her in and asked, “Who’s going to stay in her bed all night?” she’d reply, “Not me!” My kid, the comedian, would then giggle.
So for nearly 2 months now, we’ve settled into this new routine. Begrudgingly. At least that’s how I’ve felt. I just want to sleep the whole night through. One of these nights.
A couple weeks ago, though, I read a Huffington Post article by Sheila Quirke called, “The Hole in the Middle of the Bed,” and then I had some perspective glaring right at me. For Quirke it was all about allowing her son to climb into bed with she and her husband after that circle in the middle of her bed was left empty after her daughter died of cancer right there. It was a comfort to her whole family.
Amongst the tears I held back as I read her article, I thought deeply about my daughter and why all of a sudden at three she had this desire to sleep with us again. Was it separation anxiety all over again? Was she having bad dreams? Was she just doing it because at three her big thing is to do what mommy and daddy ask her not to do? What was the comfort she wanted? Needed?
Whatever it was, I began to wash away the negative thoughts I had about how much my sleep sucked. Because when I really looked at a night’s sleep, I realized that Abby was no longer a flopper. We could totally get a good night’s sleep once she settled in and slept with us. It was all the walking her back to her room over and over that I hated. So I said to my husband one night that the first time she groggily makes her way down to our room, instead of me walking her back to sleep (Yes, it always had to be me. My girl always wants her mommy.), that I was fine with her just coming to sleep with us. He was shocked because he was always OK with her slipping into bed with us at any point in the night.
You see, this new perspective of mine, well it comes through the veil of being a working parent. Quirke talks in her post about how this extra time snuggled up with her kids in bed is and was more time she got to spend with them. More time she got to spend with her daughter Donna after being diagnosed with cancer. She wrote:
The way I see it, we got hours and hours and hours of more time together with that shift in sleeping locations. When your life is measured in the number of years that can fit on one hand, hours really do make a difference.
Maybe as a working parent, hours is the way I need to perceive my day. I’m always saying to myself that there are not enough hours in the day to get all the things done. But if I can have a few more hours with my daughter, I’m happy, even if those are sleeping hours. Because you never know what life might throw at you. Perspective.
So this is our life now. Abby goes to sleep on her own, which I’m so grateful for, and then at some point in the night she makes her way down to our room. Sometimes it’s at midnight. Other times it’s at 4am. But the best part of this new routine is that as I tip-toe out of the bedroom in the morning, Abby rustles around in bed and calls out to me, “Mommy, you forgot to give me a hug!” And getting to hug my kid goodbye in the morning, tell her I love her, hear “I love you too mommy,” sans tears about me leaving her, well that is the best way to start off my day. No regrets. Perspective.
Have you ever made concessions as a working parent? Do you find yourself doing things you swore you’d never do? Compromises?