Why Aren't You Sleeping?

I always see it.  "Moms, when did your kids start sleeping?" An inevitable post that seems to have a zillion answers and zero answers all in one, the most popular being "never" and a slew of discouraged sighs from all of the new mothers out there just beginning to question their own survival skills.  I think because of this I actually overinflated the sleeping issues long before I had children, and thus it never seemed all that bad to me, give or take a few episodes of hand, foot, and mouth and the great baby escape period, but those were short stints over years of motherhood, so I realize I have nothing to complain about.  Overall, my kids have been pretty awesome sleepers.  Still, there's always a reason to wake up.  And every time we seem to nip one reason in the bud, another one pops up.  And every single one of them has been a natural progression in my kids growth.

When I first had them, that was probably the worst... and they weren't even home yet! I spent the first 2 months home alone and since they didn't even have a swallow reflex developed yet, I HAD to pump every 2 hours in an attempt to get my milk going and have enough to put through their little feeding tubes.  My alarms looked something like this: 10 pm, 12:30 pm, 3 am, 5:30 am, 8 am... and going around the clock 24/7, without any actual humans.  Just me, myself, and Medela.  I'm sure there are plenty of you out there nodding your heads at this knowing exactly what I'm talking about.  It's a lonely life, but one filled with noble purpose as well.

Eventually things began to change.  I wasn't pumping so often (and sadly gave up after 6 months when the pumping demands and my full time work schedule simply could not coexist any longer).  Relief right?  Wrong.  So enter the days of constant sickness (what can say? BOTH parents are teachers), teething, and getting stuck in the corners of our crib.  That is UNTIL they find their own mobility and boom... they're thrusting themselves over the sides and onto the floors to discover on their own terms.  Talk about terrifying and why their room still looks as sparse as possible and will remain that way for quite some time.  My point being, it's a constantly evolving battle that never really goes away, it just changes forms.

Today my kids can get themselves in and out of bed.  They can fix their own blankets and pick up their own animals.  They even soothe themselves to an extent if they wake up and are pretty good at getting back to sleep.  But don't worry, we were still up today.  In the darkness of early morning I hear a little voice telling me she needs to go pee pee.  She's already waiting at the door for me to open it and help her get onto the big potty like the big girl that she now is.  I go out to help her, take off her still dry diaper, and celebrate with her as she made it to the right spot, at the right time, even in the darkness of the night without Mommy or Daddy to remind her.  We're so proud, but we're also not going back to sleep now, so here we are watching Max & Ruby well before the sun comes up under blankets with sister in tow (because naturally she had to wake up too).

As I look to the years ahead, I know that one day they will help themselves to the potty without me, but there will always be SOMETHING.  Bad dreams.  Sniffles.  Separation anxiety when we start school and a desire to get more time with mommy...  Worries about something posted on social media that will require counseling and reassurance...  Slumber parties with girlfriends and me eavesdropping through the vents to hear the secret conversations...  Staying up all night worrying about them as they are out with friends, just waiting for them to get dropped off safely...

I'm not naive.  I know how quickly we got here and how quickly we're going to get there, and all I can do is watch it happen and be there.  In the middle of the night and early in the morning.  For all hours and for all time.  For every age and every stage.  Sleep can wait.  Right now I'm happy to wake up in the middle of the night and race to the potty.  It's exactly what I always wanted to wake up for and it's as wonderful as I'd ever imagined.  Did I mention she says "Mommy I love you" about a hundred times while she's doing it as if she's making up for inconveniencing me somehow?  Honey, you're not inconveniencing me, but you can go ahead and keep saying it, because I love you a hundred times over as well.

Motherhood.  It's why I'm not sleeping, and it's the best reason ever.

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