The Battle for Bedtime

You have never been a good sleeper, my child.  Always afraid you might miss something, you would do your best to keep those pretty hazel eyes wide open as long as you possibly could. As a babe your naps were so short I was often overwhelmed at the lack of nap time I could use to try to accomplish tasks.  It seemed like as soon as I barely laid you down in your crib I would take a breath and start a task and you would be awake.  If you slept for forty-five minutes at a time, I was ecstatic and was unsure of what to do with myself.

As bedtime would roll around, I would be exhausted and you would be seemingly full of energy.  I tried every trick I could think of to help get you relax and fall asleep but the length of time until your eyes would close only seemed to grow longer.  We walked miles through the house while I patted and sang.  When I wouldn’t walk anymore I would place you in the swing and hope the rocking motion would lull you to sleep.  That worked a few weeks until you figured out if you kicked your feet and leaned forward you could stay awake.

I would nurse you until fell into slumber only to have you awaken when I would remove you from my body and place you in your crib.  We would then start the process again.  When you were older and my milk had dried up I would hold you while you had your bottle, then walk, then lay you down, then pat you, then walk some more and sing, and try the process again.  I would grow so frustrated at the process of putting you to bed.  It would take an hour, sometimes two and by the time you were finally asleep I would be so exhausted that I would fall asleep soon after, missing out on any evening adult time.

Your father in frustration asked why other people children would go to bed at seven while we were lucky for ours to even act remotely tired by nine.  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I was frustrated also, as I was the one in battle with you trying to make an unwearied boy fall asleep.  I cursed the mothers with the easy children and almost lost my cool when a friend, also a first time mother, dared to ask me how old you were when I first “let you sleep through the night.”  After texting her a horrible response with lots of cursing and accusatory tones, I deleted my frustrations and responded with “We still don’t sleep through the night.”  You must have been about 10 months old at the time.

It wasn’t until past your first birthday I stopped fighting and getting frustrated at the battle for bedtime. I finally realized you were just a high energy child who had to find a release for any pent up energy still stored in your body before your little eyes would close and your body would be still.  I would lay with you and let you wiggle next to me until you wiggled all the energy out and finally would fall asleep.  I learned to get rambunctious with you in play and to make sure you were allotted plenty of outdoor play or inside physical, rough and tumble, run around the house, screaming, bouncing, crazy play after dinner to make sure we could work out as much energy as possible to make those bedtime wiggles lessen ever so slightly.  The less I fought you and just resigned to the fact that you would never be an early to bed child, the easier it became and as you’ve grown the battle for bedtime has become easier.  You still have nights where the wiggles seem to never end and I fall asleep with you as I wait for your eyes to close and your body to still, but now it seems less like a battle and I even get in a few hours of adult time regularly in the evenings.

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