Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the tod life.

So...I have a toddler. I've had a "toddler" for over a year now, technically. But in the past few weeks, my sweet child has suddenly realized that she is supposed to be donning the "terrible twos" phase of her childhood.

She is embracing it well.

When we got back from our last vacation of the summer, about a month ago, our sweet angel started a new phase. I like to call it, "Pull My Hair Out One Strand At A Time". Her nighttime sleep was suddenly becoming sporadic, as were her afternoon naps. Usually for her, this means she is either: a) getting sick, b) going through a growth spurt, c) teething, or d) possessed by a demon. After a couple of weeks of the screaming-out-loud-at-two/four/six-in-the-morning, I took her to the doctor, to rule out "a" & "c". Which we did. And that is good - except it left a big question mark. What to do now? Her doc suggested that she is probably a little too young to be getting afraid of the dark/shadows/whatever. So...the mystery remained.

We decided to put her in a big girl bed, to see if maybe she was just tired of her crib. Negative. Although, I have to say, now that she isn't confined to a crib, she comes into our room when she wakes up, and honestly that is slightly less stressful than the screaming coming through the monitor. It has its pros & cons. Anyway - she is doing GREAT in her big girl bed, and she loves it!!

But, the problem of waking up in the wee hours of the morning remains. During the first couple of weeks of this, I have to admit, I was super stressed about it. We felt blindsided, since our sweet pea has always been such a great sleeper. Take the element of surprise, add to it the sleep deprivation, and then the sinus infection from hades, and I was one frustrated mama. I did not react well. I whined & complained all over facebook & twitter. I probably had people hide me from their walls or defriend me. If you follow me, let me apologize now for my whiny-ness! Honestly. I was worse than my 2 1/2 year old.

Then it hit me. This is clearly out of my control. We tried so many different tactics, with no success. I am such a control freak, and this was something I was determined to FIX. She WILL sleep through the night, and I WILL make her do it. Speaking of a strong-willed child...I may or may not be one myself. :-)

Yes, I had been praying about it. Sometimes out of desperation, sometimes from selfishness, but really - I did pray about it from a legitimate concern for the health of my child. But you see, while I was praying, I was still trying to control it. As I do in so many other areas of my life, especially in the genre of parenting. Control is just NOT the answer.

I now officially give up.

I give up looking for the solution. I give up searching for the answer. I give up trying to MAKE her sleep "correctly". I give up trying to MAKE her behave like a child who doesn't pitch a fit on the floor. I. Give. Up.

No, I don't mean I am giving up parenting. I am still the parent, and she is still my child, and I will still struggle with teaching her to obey me. That is part of being a parent of a toddler. But, I am no longer trying to CONTROL how she acts.

Does that make sense? I cannot CONTROL her. She is not a robot. She is a human being. She has a beautiful spirit, and an independence that will one day make me proud, if it doesn't kill me. :-)

My goals are:

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. ~Ephesians 6:4

It doesn't say, "Make your kids behave how they are SUPPOSED to behave." It says to train your child to obey the Lord. WOWZA. How I have NOT been doing that!

So now, I will change MY attitude, as I attempt to teach my child what an appropriate attitude is. Sleep will come later.

Maybe. :-)

Footnote: For those who are wondering what we are currently doing to get Natalie to sleep at night (although it still isn't uninterrupted), here is our current tactic. We created a new bedtime routine that consists of Goodnight Moon in her bed, a prayer in her bed, and then lights out. She has a new nightlight - the Twilight Ladybug - and LOVES it. One of us stays in the room with her until she falls asleep. We figured out that, for whatever reason, she doesn't want to go to sleep alone. So, every time she goes to bed, wakes up during the night, and goes down for a nap, one of us is in the room with her until she falls asleep. We don't have to rock her, or pat her back, or even be in the bed with her. As long as someone is in the room with her, she's good. Whatever, right? :-) Hopefully this is a transitional phase & she will soon be sleeping like a champ again.


  1. Funny...when I was a kid (and actually older than Natalie) I wanted someone with me as I fell asleep. It helped a lot when my sister got old enough that we shared a room and a double bed. For some reason, I felt lonely and left out and sad when it was time to go to bed, even if I was exhausted. I don't know what my deal was. I think it might be my personality, though, because I still hated going to bed even as a young adult, but now that Russ is there, I don't mind when it's time to go to sleep. Weird, huh?

  2. Do you think it could be bad dreams? I remember vividly as a child having nightmares and going to my parents' room every single night. Avery and Braden seemed to inherit that trait from me. They both have gone through spurts of waking up. Braden's was the worst (right before Bennett made his arrival, which freaked me out because I knew we were already going to be sleep deprived). With Braden, we even resorted to taking turns sleeping on the floor the rest of the night after he woke up because I was determined to keep him in his bed. But there were those nights we did rotate around, Kenny going to B's bed, leaving me behind in our bed with two giant blocks of feet finding their way between my ribs. We finally decided that was doing none of us good, so everytime he came in, we took him back to his bed, stayed in there for a bit, then left. It was rough, as you know, expecting the cries every single night, but eventually, after one night of Kenny threatening him within an inch of his life (we started to sense it was becoming a habit and not a fear), he started sleeping again.

    I say all that to say that there will be an some point. Who knows when though, and I hope and pray that it will be sooner rather than later!

  3. So sorry you're having to deal with this. My mom has always told me (and I find myself repeating it to myself over and over) that "This too shall pass." Hang in there :)

  4. I read your blog post, randomly looking at other peoples blogs, and felt like I was reading about my own childhood between the ages of 4 and 9, 10, maybe even 11. My mother and father would be sitting in our living room after putting my brother, sister and I to bed and then an hour later, they would hear me screaming bloody murder and run to my bedside to find me crying, but unable to remember why.

    I remember at a certain age, waking up screaming and crying and running downstairs to them and sitting on my mom's lap, but not knowing why I was upset.

    Years and years later, as these instances decreased in frequency and became a once a year or twice a year occurrence, I realized what they were when I heard a term for them either in a psychology book or perhaps even on Oprah. Night terrors.
    Similar to having a night mare they are scary, but I was never able to remember what was happening or why I was scared. I began trying to search for the answer about 13-16 years of age but all I was able to do was describe a "feeling" that I had during these "night terrors". Being spiritual and believing in past lives, I thought maybe I had tuned into something from a past life, perhaps my own death? But that's neither here-nor-there.

    I hope I'm not causing you more concern but opening a door to another possibility of why she may be waking upset in the middle of the night. Your story just sounded so similar to mine, waking multiple times and starting when I was just around the late-toddler age. Maybe night terrors are the cause?

    Hope it passes soon, but don't worry about it and get rest yourself so that you can be your best for her!

    Good luck!