People used to laud Lily on her sleep habits. “Oh,” they said, “How wonderful that she’ll sleep anywhere!” “How fantastic,” they said, “that she sleeps through the night.” “She,” they said, “is a great sleeper.”
Then she turned two and a half. Suddenly, she started waking up in the middle of the night and refusing to go back to bed. For a time, she decided 4:45 a.m. was a reasonable time to wake up in the morning. She held hour long bedtime standoffs and decided naps could be grounds for a battle as well.
Everything I read and everybody I talked to said the phase would be short. “Be consistent and sleep habits will go back to normal,” they said. But months and months passed, and on more than one occasion, Jake came home and found me tear-stained and prostrate on the floor of a quiet house because it was the only way I knew to decompress the terribleness that was bedtime.
But sleep isn’t what this essay is about. It’s about the real problem with kids which, if you ask me, is this: They convince you that they are good at things and then they decide to stop being good at those things.
Or more plainly, they constantly change.
Lily was my champion sleeper. And then, she up and realized she could have her own opinions about things and changed the whole ball game on me. I wasn’t ready for it. She blindsided me and there was no fancy Daniel Tiger jingle to convince her otherwise (believe me, I tried all the things).
Right now we seem to have reached a treaty–a season of bedtime peace–and I’m learning to enjoy these times because I know they are bound to be short-lived. Surely there is another regression in our future which will shake up our rhythm and force us to find a new beat altogether (if Norah stops inhaling all food as she threatened a few months ago, so help me).
It can be defeating. For me, it always seems like my girls hit a regression or make a change just as I’m feeling pretty good about things. When I feel like I have it all together, I’m always reminded that I actually don’t.
As parents, I think it would be easy to live in constant frustration that nothing ever stays the same. It’s in these moments though that I am reminded of the power in my own insufficiency. I’ll never have it all together, and I’m thankful that constant change reminds me of this. Regressions in parenting are a thorn in my flesh, but there is joy knowing that my responses to these frustrations can give room for Christ’s strength if I let them.It doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it worth it.
And so, I’d like to dedicate these thoughts to my sleeping babes. To Lily who has learned that the sleep-time battle isn’t worth fighting and to Norah who hasn’t yet figured out that there’s a battle to be fought. May the beauty of her ignorance be long lasting and may we have patience, wisdom, and plenty of coffee the moment she figures out otherwise.