The Moments…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 15, 2014 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Each day I start by reviewing my Facebook feed. As shallow as that may sound, there is intention to it. Because in between all of the more mundane updates from colleagues, friends and family (which I thoroughly enjoy) there are nuggets. I find that almost every day I “need” a nugget to help me along with this parenting gig and thanks to the Internet, I can usually get it. This morning I got a big one. It made me tear up as a Mom shared her conflicted feelings about sending her daughter off to college and reminiscing about where all the time has gone. She went on to say what every single other parent says, IT GOES FAST. When you’re in it, it doesn’t always feel that way – in fact, it often doesn’t. The days can be long, exhausting and hard at times. But, when you begin to look back, you wonder where the years have gone, whether it be 3, 6 or the full 18. At some point you’re launching a young adult into the world and you’re just praying that you’ve taught them everything you wanted to and meant to and that they’ll be OK. Somehow you go from having a child attached to you to being grateful when they choose to spend a night home with you instead of being out with their friends. And, then, poof, just like that, your baby is gone.

If you wonder why I consider this a nugget (as opposed to getting myself upset early in the morning), it’s this.

Last evening before bed, Ellie was being a pill. For anyone who doesn’t quite use or remember that expression (I know I heard it a lot in my house growing up), let’s just say she was being a pain in the butt. She’s 7 – it’s going to happen. She’s learning and there’s so much more to learn. She’s also testing boundaries which is her job too. And, as her parents, it’s our job to reaffirm where those lines are so they’re not habitually crossed, to sit down with her and discuss how to be a good friend and asking her what she thinks that looks like as she navigates situations with her best friend. And then there’s just general lack of cooperation and a sassy attitude to boot. So, when the time comes finally for bed and she tells me that she wants me to snuggle with her in her bed, I have to tell her NO. Not only because it’s now past 9:00pm on a school night but also because I fear it sends a wrong message. I explained to her that she’s not being very kind and right now it would feel like snuggling with a porcupine and I didn’t want to get poked. She actually thought this was quite funny.

She went to bed and fell asleep in no time but the situation weighed on me because in that moment, I knew I just lost a chance to snuggle with my girl and you never know when that chance won’t come again. It’s a constant fine line to walk.

This morning I was up way too early thanks to a rare heat wave and a loud upstairs neighbor. I tried to return to slumber to no avail so I just laid there until I heard some creaking on the hardwood floors and turned to see my husband carrying in our 7-year-old half asleep. This has become our routine as of late as I’ve been home recovering from surgery and not having to rush to get up and ready for work. He drops her down next to me in all of her 52 pound 4-foot glory with her “blankie” and carefully selected stuffed animal and I pull her close to me to grab those 10 minutes of snuggle time before the always-rushed school morning routine begins.

Having just read about the Mom who is feeling nostalgic about sending her daughter off to college, I am so grateful for these moments with my first grader. I know they are fleeting. I study the profile of her nose and marvel at how it’s changed, I notice her top two permanent teeth that inch their way in bit by bit each day and look in awe at her long eyelashes that flap like a butterfly’s wings as she blinks away the bright light in the bedroom.  I take in the fragrance of her hair that still smells strong of fruity conditioner from a previous washing.

The frustration of the night before has gone, naturally, because that’s how parenting a kid is. Your love is so big, so unconditional, that even though you HAVE to discipline and teach them right from wrong, and they make you crazy and hurt your feelings, the love supercedes it all. I think about my “morning nugget” and I hold on tightly – so tightly. 

 

 

Saying goodbye to first grade…

Posted in Ellie with tags , on May 3, 2014 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I can hardly believe Ellie is edging up on the end of her first grade year. I know this is a common parental refrain but there’s a reason for it. Time flies. And, as your kids get older, I swear it goes even faster. It’s amazing to me that when I first wrote in this blog, it was the year 2009 and I had a toddler. And, now I’m almost welcoming a second grader into my life.  HOW CAN THIS BE?!

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It’s been an amazing year. Ellie moved into a new school and had to adjust to new kids and a much more rigorous academic environment. That was really hard for her initially but she never stopped working and trying. Although she still gets stomach aches over math, she never gives up. She can now read like a champ and is like a sponge when it comes to learning new words. It’s truly amazing to see the progress she’s made over the year. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Her after school program has been terrific as well. She gets to swim and dance and be in an environment that is incredibly fun and loving. I feel great EVERY night I pick her up here and feel SO good that we made that really hard decision last summer to move her from one school to another.

When I think back to the first week of first grade and Ellie saying that she just “can’t do it” as she sobbed outside her new classroom door or the many many mornings where she clung a bit tightly to me and looked sad at the prospect of parting, it’s hard to believe and wonderful to watch how confidently she carries herself at her school now — and in general. I love walking to school together in the morning and holding hands. I’m so glad she still lets me do this. But, she’s definitely becoming more independent and snuggles come much more on her terms these days.

Seven is a really terrific age. Of course it comes with its challenges, but, mostly, I’ve really loved it. I guess every stage is terrific in its own way but seven is truly a winner.

I continue to embrace these moments with my beautiful daughter as I know they will continue to fly by and I don’t want to miss a thing.

 

Taking things in stride…

Posted in Ellie, Mommy stuff on September 9, 2013 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Parenting is hard. And rewarding. But, so hard. Each day I get up, especially if it’s been a rough night the evening before, I say to myself, “Today I will do better. Today I will…” fill in the blank. It might be, shut down my computer and be more present with my child or not get too frustrated when I’ve asked for the umpteenth time to get dressed, etc., etc.. I sometimes feel guilty when I lose my patience but then I also remind myself that you can’t HELP but lose patience with your kids.

For example, when we got home this evening, I discovered that my six-year-old had once again left her homework at her after care. Last week she brought home her homework but forgot her folder. She can be very absent-minded. I never have to worry that she’s not living in the moment. She’s ALL moment. I got pretty upset with her and explained that it’s VERY important for her to remember her homework at the end of the day. I was clearly not happy and she asked me if I was angry with her. I said that I wasn’t angry but that I was disappointed. She then got upset and threw her lunchbox and homework folder (minus the homework) on the kitchen counter and said she was really angry because I was angry with her and started crying. I felt REALLY bad that I made her cry until I found out that the reason she was crying was because she was worried that I wouldn’t let her play with her friend downstairs now that she forgot her homework.

In the end, I let her play with her friend for 30 minutes (I’m such a sucker.)

As I was writing yet ANOTHER note to her very strict first grade teacher(who I’m certain thinks we’re not on top of things)I began to wonder if I’d been too harsh with her. After all, she’s only six and she’s kept it together all day long and beyond. Perhaps there’s a better way to work WITH her to help her become less absent-minded but it’s hard to know what that is — especially when I’m not with her all day.

In the moments, I feel as if I SHOULD be upset that she keeps forgetting things but then we lay in bed together and look at book picks for her school’s book fair in a catalog and chat, I wonder if I should be taking this all more in stride. I know it’ll serve her well not to be forgetful as she goes through school and ultimately life, and I don’t think I should stop enforcing the importance of this but when I look into her sweet sleepy face and feel her soft skin and see her vulnerability, I think about the fact that before we know it, there won’t be night time snuggles and leaving homework at the after care will be the least of our worries. I know this is not a good reason to stop enforcing rules but it sure makes me want to sometimes.

And then there was first grade…

Posted in Ellie with tags on September 4, 2013 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I can’t believe I’ve let an entire year (and change) lapse since I posted. Last time I wrote I had a graduating preschooler and now we’re jumping into first grade. What a difference the last year has made. I can barely remember what it feels like to have a preschooler. Ellie has grown by leaps and bounds. My first and only born who always tended toward the 25th percentile is off the charts in height. Her little six-year-old dresses look like mini-skirts. She runs at lightning speed and talks about as fast. Her questions are endless which speaks to her intense curiosity of the world around her. It’s becoming quite clear that she’s an extrovert, wanting almost always to be around and engaging with other people. She continues to sing and dance and laugh with abandon. She is a good friend.

Although I never got a chance to write about it, kindergarten was a year of growth for Ellie. It wasn’t a perfect year (as if there is any such thing) and the transition was not an easy one. No tears but a lot of clinging. In the end, it took about 10 months for her to really “move in” to that school mentally and socially. But, she got there — as always, on her own time table.

Now she’s in first grade at a new school and I’ve been amazed that three weeks in, she seems to have the confidence that took her 10 months to develop in kindergarten. Building blocks of growth, indeed. And, perhaps this really is the better fit for her. She comes home every night animated with lots of stories. She writes and takes spelling tests.  She has new friends. She rarely mentions her old school or friends. Six-year-olds are amazing. I was told that this transition to a new school would be infinitely harder for me than it would be for her but you project so much of your own emotions on to your children imagining how they might feel that it’s hard to believe. And, yet, three weeks in and she’s doing great. This morning as she was getting dressed she said to me, “I’m not going to miss you today.”  I never thought I’d feel so relieved to hear those words.

The Graduate!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

The Graduate!

Pomp and Circumstance…oh how I love her so.

Graduation Day…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Tomorrow you graduate preschool. Some folks scoff about the significance of this. Graduation from preschool? Really?!  I, however, am so grateful for the pomp and circumstance. I need a ritual to help mark this transition — the one from baby to young girl. Even though I find myself marveling at where the time has gone, it hasn’t really gone that quickly. It’s more feeling the impact that it’s just gone.

Look at you with Mommy on your first day:Image

Full of smiles, carrying your brand new lunch box for the first time. Look at your cute pink leggings bulging from the pull-up you were still wearing underneath. I marvel now at the baby fat sweetly padding your face. Three years later and you’re all legs and arms – much taller than most 5-year-olds. You’re potty-trained and sleep all night in a big girl bed. You run around your preschool as if you own it – because you do. Although you occasionally cling when we say goodbye, there are no more tears. Baby – you’re all grown up.

This morning I dropped you off for the last time. It felt like any other morning but of course it wasn’t. I hope you’ll take a nap, holding your “stuffy” tightly – embracing that ritual for the last time. I hope you’ll take in every bit of the specialness of the day knowing that it is your last. I know you won’t, of course, because you’re 5 and you’re sooo excited for what’s coming. This makes me happy.

But, as your sentimental Mom, I hope you’ll let me take it all in for you. You are my first and my last and my love for you is bigger than you can ever imagine.

And tomorrow, at graduation, know that I will be crying and cheering and feeling so proud of all you’ve accomplished these last three years – and for how you’ve grown into this amazing little girl. And, when it’s all over, we’ll walk out hand and hand just as we’ve done so many times before – only this time will be our last. Forgive me if I don’t walk as fast as you’d like me to as I may need to turn around one last time and take it all in.

And then there was vacation…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

At some point in everyone’s life is uttered the all too common phrase, “I really need a vacation.” I need to say that phrase more. Do it more. I realize that I just push myself and push myself and push myself until I’m beyond burnt out – until I’m completely fried. This has never been truer than the past few years. Oh, I have plenty of good reasons for not taking vacation, but, really, those reasons are excuses. And, they’re legit, but, they don’t really matter.

A few months back I finally put my foot down and declared that we were going on vacation and going to Disneyland. This, of course, was met with an overwhelmingly positive response by the rest of the family. I’ve been wanting to take Ellie to Disneyland but wanted to wait until I thought she was old enough and wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of people, rides and I also wanted to avoid any potential freak outs from seeing live Disney characters. And, you know this can happen.

Since my husband is the master at vacation planning, I let him run with most of the vacation plans. Once we decided that we were going to drive down and do the coast thing on the way back, we needed to find a couple of good accommodations that would comfortably fit three of us. And, as usual, he totally scored the best accommodations — a darling cottage one block from the ocean in Hermosa Beach and a place called the Fog Catcher Inn in Cambria–also beachfront–which would be our stopover on the way home.

The ride down was pretty easy. The 5 may not be sexy but it is direct. We made really good time and were so happy to have our feet in the sand by dusk. This is one family that just absolutely loves the beach. Fortunately, I have some family that love the beach too and we spent a wonderful first day with my beloved Uncle and Aunt picnicking on the beach all day. Ellie just loves them and they love her too. There was football playing…

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And I managed to get this wonderful picture of Ellie with her Great Uncle and Aunt. God bless my nifty fifty. I took this with the Aperture setting and the lighting was perfect.

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As it worked out, Mother’s Day also fell during our vacation. To celebrate, we had brunch with my oldest and dearest friend, Gloria, her daughter, Fiona, who is exactly Ellie’s age and her Mom, whom I’ve known my entire life. It was pure bliss.

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After brunch it was off to Disneyland! It was a short drive from the beach and before we knew it we were checked in to our hotels and at the park. I have not been to Disneyland in many years and it was every bit as wonderful as I remember. The weather could also not have been more perfect. But, most of all, watching Ellie experience it for the first time made me so deeply happy. She and Fiona walked along together holding hands and chatting – and thanks to Fiona’s Mom, they had matching dresses too!

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Our two days at Disneyland were pretty much perfection. Being with old friends, watching my 5-year-old take on a kiddie and adult rollercoaster, meeting Minnie Mouse, seeing the Fireworks, going on It’s a Small World, meeting princesses…could life be any better?!

It was so hard to say goodbye to our friends and Disneyland but the teary goodbyes were worth all of the memories made in just two short days. And, it also gives us a great reason to return.

“Then Again”…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Been thinking a lot today about Diane Keaton’s memoir, “Then Again”, which I just finished last night. I loved it. Upon finishing, I decided to hop onto Goodreads to see what other readers were saying about it. I don’t know why I did that exactly as it’s not something I ordinarily do but I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to read what I was sure would be similar ravings. I was surprised and taken aback to see how many mediocre reviews existed. As I began to dive in to read them, I noticed a familar theme throughout several of them – betrayal.

These feelings of betrayal shocked me. All of these women were expressing their disappointment in Ms. Keaton for being insecure, self-deprecating and seemingly nothing like the image she has portrayed all these years–independent, irreverent, one of a kind (when does the name Diane Keaton not conjure up an image of a man suit and black hat?). Nope, Diane was just like one of us – uncertain, insecure — even bulimic at one point. She felt inferior around many of her boyfriends (shall we keep in mind that they were the likes of Warren Beatty, ladies) and never felt pretty enough.

Now, I’m no Diane Keaton. I’m not even a writer. But, I do aspire to commit to my blog again. The thing that has kept me away – even more than lack of time – is fear. I can’t write because I’m afraid to tell my truth. I’m afraid of the words that will come out, who might read them and what they might think. Reading those reviews last night tapped into all of my fears about telling my own truth – about putting my real feelings out into the world. The ugly stuff. Stuff that may make those who know me step back and say, “Whoa – this isn’t the woman I know at all!” Worse, is they’ll hold this against me. Judge me. Just the way Diane is being judged.

When I started this blog, I aimed to be funny. I think that was mostly because when I started this blog, I was able to see humor in a LOT. These days, not so much. I find that I’m rarely laughing – at least not nearly as much as I used to. In fact, I’ve noticed that I feel like crying a lot more than I feel like laughing. Or, maybe more that one day I feel like laughing and the next like crying. This kind of up and down scares the crap out of me. I have NEVER felt like this before. I mean, sure, I’ve been down and I’ve definitely been up. But, this up and down rollercoaster of emotions is not something I’m accustomed to.

It seems like everything is wrong – all the time. And, yet, nothing at all. My doctor tells me it’s my hormones. She’s been telling me that for three years. I recently broke up with my doctor. I was tired of hearing over and over that every physical symptom I’ve had is related to hormones.

But, if not that, then what? Am I depressed? Burnt out? Have I just been in limbo too long? Do I need to re-examine my childhood? My marriage? Have another kid? Start a gratitude journal?

I’ve examined my feelings from many vantage points. I’ve reviewed and re-reviewed every plausible scenario and I’m still not sure how to fix it. To fix me.

Then again, maybe I don’t need fixing.

 

 

 

Coming out of the darkness…

Posted in Tiny spaces on March 14, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

If I’m not mistaken, I started this blog in 2009. Or, was it 2008? I do know that I have not posted in almost exactly one year. A year that has had a bit more than its share of hardships. A dozen times I stopped to write a post – be it about something funny, sad, revealing – but then I couldn’t muster the energy for it. Or, fear stopped me in my tracks. Fear of who might read what was really there- behind the facade of the spunky girl at the office or about town.

After this past year’s events, I’ve learned that darkness can come without an invitation and it can stay longer than you’d like it to – many seasons, not just winter.  I’ve learned that you really can walk out the door one day and get hit by a bus, except in my case it was a bicycle. I’ve learned that people you think you know, can take their life without warning.  I’ve learned that the people you most rely on, can let you down. I’ve learned that in the end, you have to be your own best champion.

I’m a year older. I’ve taken stock. I’m working toward acceptance and renewal.

And, perhaps for the first time, I feel measurably wiser. This life thing is hard. And, yet, I find myself once again feeling hopeful, despite myself.

The Family Bed

Posted in Mommy stuff with tags , , on March 9, 2011 by talesofanunfinishedmom

If you told me two years ago that I would be co-sleeping with my child, I would have told you you were crazy. After all, I am the Mom who brought in a professional sleep trainer when my daughter was 3 months old (and I was on the verge of jumping out a window) to help me figure out what to do to get my infant to sleep more than two hours at a time.  I was pretty much out of my mind and so sleep deprived that I thought I had developed a case of postpartum depression. Additionally, I was returning to full-time work in one month and couldn’t imagine how I would function with only a few  hours of sleep a night. 

A sleep trainer may sound extreme but a good friend of mine had used this trainer and said that she pretty much “fixed” her family life overnight. Well, maybe not overnight and maybe not fixed as she got divorced a few years later–but, I digress. The bottom line is I was desperate and there was no way I was going to be able to allow my child to cry it out (which seemed the only alternative) without someone talking me off a ledge 24 hours a day. So, I talked with my pediatrician and we agreed on a plan that made sense. I still felt guilty, but, also knew that 1) I could fire the trainer five minutes after she came into my house and 2) knew that my mental state was hurting enough that this was probably not only good for me but good for my child. A depressed sleep-deprived mother does not a good mother make.

I will admit that five minutes after the “trainer” entered our home, I wanted to tell her to get out — you know, like, in that scary Poltergeist voice. But, after listening to her “plan” and having her there to hold my hand, it actually didn’t seem so outrageous.  She suggested that my 3-month old didn’t need to be swaddled anymore. WHAT?! Not swaddle. Well, maybe this actually made sense since my daughter hated the swaddle and pretty much kicked out of it every night. I was also told that we had to get rid of her pacifier. That wasn’t really a problem since I was still trying to train my kid to keep it IN her mouth. She would always suck and then spit it out which was hilarious but didn’t do much for her self-soothing. Then the sleep trainer told us that our daughter would have to move out of the bassinet in our room and into her crib in her own room. This was where my head nearly popped off. OUT OF OUR ROOM? OUT OF THE BASSINET? ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE APARTMENT? (Mind you our apartment is only 900 square feet.) Just as I was about to kick the “trainer” out of the door, I thought again about how my daughter’s previously good sleeping habits had reverted to such minimal stretches that NO ONE, including her, was sleeping well. And, hey, what did I have to lose by trying it for one night? We were also lucky in that since we live in such small quarters and her room is a windowless 10X12 box which occurred to me may actually be MORE comforting to her — more womb-like — than sleeping in our big master bedroom.

Well, long story short, the sleep training was actually a great success. I didn’t actually follow everything the “trainer” recommended (like ignoring my daughter’s request for a feeding at 4:00am–um, hello?!) but I followed enough that I felt OK with it. Frankly, it was easy to be OK with it because my daughter responded beautifully. And, I think if she could have talked she would have said THANK YOU for getting me out of that suffocating swaddle and into a real bed with a real mattress and into this nice dark quiet room that takes me back to that incredibly cozy place I lived for 9 months.

I would say the rest is history but, as you know, history is always rewriting itself.

My daughter did remain incredibly happy in her crib for 3 1/2 years. She LOVED her crib. She took incredible naps, slept amazingly well at night (NEVER woke up unless she was sick) and it wasn’t until she was about a month shy of turning 4 that I decided to move her into her big girl bed. It may seem unlikely that someone who sleep trained her child at 3 months would keep her in her crib for so long but my feeling about these things is if it’s not broken, why fix it? And, it really wasn’t broken. 

What I didn’t anticipate was the pressure I would start to get about moving my child into a “big girl bed.” I ignored it for a long time but when my daughter started to approach four, I did start to cave, thinking that I wasn’t doing right by her–especially since she was on the verge (finally) of being potty trained.  The thing is, my daughter never ASKED for a big girl bed. She knew what one was — she saw big girl beds at friends’ houses — but didn’t really seem especially interested in moving to one. She was that way about potty training too – no interest. I believed it was important to work with her cues (within reason) and had heard disastrous stories about potty training that backfired because it was pushed too early. So, again, hard to believe that the Mom who sleep trained her kid at 3 months allowed her child to almost turn 4 without being potty trained! As luck would have it and my instincts told me (in between the fears) my daughter became fully ready and engaged in potty training about one month before her 4th birthday and she was trained in about one week — all on her own.  

Once the potty training was underway, the big girl bed became more of a topic of conversation. Well-meaning relatives were telling my daughter “next time you visit us, you’ll have to sleep in a big girl bed” and well-meaning friends told me that now that she was nearly potty trained that I would be setting her up for failure by keeping her in a crib.

So, online I went. After much searching — and against my better judgement I bought a brand new beautiful white toddler bed complete with girly bedding and decorative pillows (decorative pillows people – I mean, does a 4-year old need decorative pillows??!!). 

I remember the night we put it together. Except by “we” I really mean my husband. I remember the 4-year-old’s excitement. “Yay! Big girl bed!”  By this point, she seemed REALLY excited about the notion of having her own big girl bed. In addition, getting that big ‘ol crib out of her room gave her more room to actually play in her little space.

Well, wouldn’t you know…the idea of the big girl bed turned out to be MUCH more appealing than the actual big girl bed.  And, so, yadda yadda yadda — it’s been four months and my daughter has NOT slept in her bed all night.  Not ONE time.

At first I was sufficiently on edge about it. After years of putting my daughter to bed without issue and retreating to my sanctuary (otherwise known as the master bedroom)  to be lulled by her steady breathing on the baby monitor while I read my book; I was not prepared to have a visitor in my bedroom every five minutes!

Everyone said that was normal and that after a few days or a week she’d get used to it. She didn’t. And, I tried everything to make that room welcoming (did I already mention decorative pillows??). Tinkerbell pillowcase, fairies on the wall, nightlight…NOTHING was keeping her in that room.

So, I finally retreated to the good ‘ol internet in search of advice for getting your kid to stay in her big girl bed. The advice seemed pretty consistent. Every time your kids comes into your bedroom, you walk her back to her room without getting upset or giving in to any kind of conversation. I was pretty good at the first (after all–this was all new to her–it didn’t seem fair to get angry) but not so good at the latter. I was especially bad in the middle of the night so I had my husband take responsibility for taking her back to bed. From everything I read, it should take no more than TWO WEEKS to train your kid to stay in her bed but you HAVE to be consistent. You HAVE to walk her back to her bed EVERY TIME she comes into your room — no matter how many times it happens. You should remain calm and not engage in conversation. Consistency is key.

It was REALLY hard. Sometimes during those first few nights she would cry as my husband carried her back and we felt AWFUL. I recall my husband telling her over and over again that she was safe and that Mommy and Daddy were in our room if she needed us. But, it didn’t seem to sink in.

After about 10 days, we started to weaken. Most of all, we were just so DARN tired and were losing the energy to walk her back to bed throughout the night. I knew if we weakened that we would lose the battle but we just couldn’t keep it up. I asked a couple of friends for advice and a couple of them said they put gates up to keep their kids in their room and it was quite effective. I began to threaten that we’d put a gate up and while my 4-year-old wasn’t crazy about the idea, with no gate in sight, it seemed an empty threat and not effective. I finally borrowed an actual gate and showed her how it would fit in her door and she was none too pleased. I explained that if she could stay in her big girl bed, we wouldn’t have to use the gate. I even went so far as to buy her presents — a new pair of sassy pink sunglasses to be specific. I offered that all she had to do was stay in her bed for three nights in one week and she would get the sunglasses. She loves the sunglasses. But, she loves Mommy and Daddy’s bed more.

About this time, I began to get used to having my daughter in bed with us. I couldn’t bring myself to put the gate up, envisioning her waking up in the night and panicking that she was trapped in her room (even if we could hear her every move on the baby monitor) and imagining the therapy bills later.  It started to occur to me that maybe she was really scared in her room. Even if she had loved it for all those years, perhaps things were different now. How could I force her to stay somewhere she didn’t really want to be?

And, perhaps, even more than all of this, I began to get used to sleeping with her — to waking up next to her warm sleeping body throughout the night and listening to her rhythmic breathing. I never have to think of checking on her because she is right next to me. If she happens to sleep in uncharacteristically late, I don’t panic that maybe she stopped breathing because I can feel her breathing next to me. Our unexpected family bed has turned into an unsuspecting source of comfort.

Like I said, if you would have told me two years ago that I’d be co-sleeping with my 4-year-old, I wouldn’t have believed it. If you had told me I’d be co-sleeping and actually enjoying it, I’d have told you you were insane.

I’m finding motherhood is like this–an array of constantly shifting paradigms. I’m even beginning to accept it.