I’m not sure how many times I need to read Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese in order to deal with change a bit more effectively than I do, but I can tell you that 3 times is not enough. My parents still live in my childhood home which they purchased in 1977. I was in the same school district from kindergarten through high school graduation. When I visit my parents, I sleep in the same bed I’ve had since 4th grade. My drawers still contain the programs from my high school musical days. Needless to say, my childhood was incredibly stable. Certain parts of my life have remained the same for 40 years. I feel fortunate and blessed to have so many consistencies, but because of that, change of any kind is almost impossible.
As a parent, it’s ALL change. You go from not expecting to expecting, newborn baby to baby baby, baby to toddler, toddler to child…. I mean- it’s constant and then there are all the changes that occur within those stages. It’s always changing. Today, in 10 minutes, my daughter went from wanting turkey for lunch to hating turkey, “I don’t LIKE IT…I DON’T LIKE IT..I CAN’T… I CAAAAANNN’T!!!! Yesterday, she wanted to watch Frozen, then she didn’t want Frozen; she wanted Inside Out. “I WANT INSIDE OOUUUUUT!! NO ELSA NO ELSAAAAAAAAAA!” Um what? What in the actual HELL is happening? Sometimes I think I work in a psych ward.
Lately I have been overwhelmed with how quickly time is passing with my baby girl. I remember conversations with friends when she was a newborn saying to enjoy every minute… and… I did… and I am…but they only sleep in that little part of your neck for so long…sigh…. It was just a few months that she was in a little cradle next to our bed before she went into her crib. I remember getting a little bit sad everytime we had to lower the crib because it looked as if she would climb out. Well, now it’s happened. She jumped out of the crib. The DREADED moment. Here it is. It took just one jump for my husband to convert that crib to a toddler bed. A bed. My baby is in a bed. My baby that came out of me that fed from me is in a BED! (And yes, I will always think of that…Never does a day go by that I don’t remember every second of labor and the sheer wonder and magic of it all. I am crazy that way and I like it.) However, besides the sentimentality of time passing and all the warm and fuzzy nostalgic feelings of missing my pregnancy and all the delightful first baby moments, there is the reality that she is free to move about now. It’s over. She’s up. All. The. Time. We went from a having a child who slept 11 hours a night to one who is up 4 and 5 times a night. She used to wake at 6:30; now it’s 5:00… Or 4… or 3 …. Wowza. (And lets not even talk about the wild card known as Daylight Savings!) It’s like having a newborn again without the delicious newborn part! If you are going to be up all night, then I better be able to cuddle you and stare at you adoringly and albeit bleary-eyed for hours on end and then swaddle you up so you can sleep in your swing for 3 hours! But this…noooo… this is not cool… I am exhausted and…mean. Oh… I feel like I’ve become so mean and I have no patience with her. And that’s not really fair because she’s just going through an adjustment, right? Or am I spoiling her by being concerned for her going through this adjustment? Is she going to be a terrible teenage because I’m patting her back to sleep? Surely I’m not spoiling her, right? Am I ruining her?? It would take longer than 2 years to ruin her right? Yes, I’m sure at this point we are still on track to have a fully functioning, self sufficient, caring adult child. We are good. We are fine. But seriously, am I supposed to let her work it out herself? How? She can walk around. She can put on lights and open drawers and scream next to my face! I have no choice but to get up and sit beside her bed and pat her little back and tell her it’s going to be ok. That’s my job. I’m Mommy. This is my time to shine. This is my moment! I remember asking my Mom to pat me to sleep and if you could bottle and sell that feeling of comfort, I would buy a jar right now.
Twice, (probably more), I have caved and grabbed her and put her in bed with us because I just physically could not muster the strength to practically sleep walk back to her room. But I must. I MUST. She needs me and… I need it too really. (I would prefer it weren’t the middle of the night, but this is the gig). So here I am, I’ve made it to her room, Mommy’s here. I put her back in bed and cover her up all cozy and pat her little back, my head starts to get heavy and I sort of just curl up on the floor keeping my hand on her back pat, pat, pat….. Do you know what she does? She jerks her head up and cries, “No Mommy lay down!! No Mommy lay down!” I mean….who IS this child? What does it matter if my head is down whilst your back is being patted…How dare you?!! It’s so infuriating to be yelled at by a 2 year old! I have no choice. I am TIRED. I yell back and say ,”Mommy is tired! It’s the middle of the night! I can put my head down if I want to!!“ Yikes. I sound like a child…. I know, I need to just leave the room…but… she will follow me. She’s free now. This is torture, but those who have been here before me say it will change. And you know what? I welcome that change. I actually cannot wait.