Wee hours

Yesterday was a really tough day for Peanut, and though he’s been sleeping much better…wait, I need to address that:

Attention sleepless moms: don’t let the books and the advice fool you. Some kids just don’t sleep until they’re two or three. No matter what you do. They’re just too mentally or physically active to stay asleep. And abandoning them at night just sends mixed messages but doesn’t “fix” them. [Please don’t email me to tell me how to get my kid to sleep. And please don’t email to tell me cry-it-out isn’t cruel. It is. And I do know how tired you are and I do know why you felt you had to try. I’m not judging your desperation, I’m just not going to use your method. I’ve read every book and talked to everyone who has an opinion, story, or child. Most books don’t address our situation. And my child goes to bed easily, happily, lovingly. He falls asleep by himself because he always has and prefers it that way, but he can’t stay asleep more than 3 hours at a time. Not his fault. Not habit (and don’t you think that if habit was a successful way to wake up that alarms would be obsolete? Not sleeping is not your child’s fault. I know you don’t want to hear that you may not sleep for a while. But you might now. At one point I asked my pediatrician to swear on his life that he didn’t have any eight-year-old patients who didn’t sleep through the night. He promised. I was desperate, desperate, painfully desperate for 18 months, then hysterical for 6 months, then resigned for six months. And at 2 1/2, there it was. A full night. And another. And another.

In other cultures, parents don’t expect kids to sleep until two or three. What’s hard here is that they’re “supposed to” and, therefore, either they or we are failures if nights are regularly, if not frequently, interrupted. I mean, I know Americans have some good reasons to think they’re awesome, but do you really think you’re so awesome you give birth to superhumans who sleep better than the rest of the planet? Come on.

My resignation to my fate doesn’t mean I haven’t almost lost my mind to sleep deprivation. But I know lots of really good parents with really good kids who didn’t all sleep through the night until three years had passed. And I’m surrounded by parents who made it through and parents who are struggling to get there, and we’re in it together. Except at 3 a.m. Because nothing is lonelier than caring for a wailing child at 3 a.m. Don’t care who you are, it’s tough to feel that alone.)

Back to the story.

Though he’s been sleeping better lately, yesterday was really hard for him, so nighttime was hard. The day was filled with sharing (his current nightmare of choice) and playdates and hitting (he’s getting it back now and doesn’t like it) and infrequent snacks (the child is more calorie-dependent than even his mother, and that’s saying a lot) and a timeout; so he was just guaranteed a difficult night. He tossed and turned, he yelled in his sleep (mostly, “No share! No share no hit!”), he woke every few hours. He needed help a few times, including one justifiable need for the potty. It was dark, I was half asleep but carried him silently to the bathroom, helped him, and redressed him. He went right back to sleep. Three hours later he called me through the monitor:

“Mommy! Underpants! Mommy, underpants! Mommy. Underpaaaaaants.”

I’m irritated, thinking we’re having a “I need to choose another pair” moment as we do in daytime. In the light of day that nonsense is fine with me. Control what goes in your own pants. Fine. At night? No way.

So I go to him and he says “P*nis stuck.”(“I’m sure it is,” I think, “since you never leave it alone. Probably caught it in the waistband, didn’t you?”) I lift the waistband and let gravity work its magic.

“There you go, Mommy fixed it.”

“Mommy no fix it. P*nis stuck.”

“Okay, stand up. I’ll try again.” I reach to help him up and get a handful of cheek. Nude.

I had put both his legs into one leg hole during his late night peebreak. He’d slept three hours hanging out the side of his unders.

Nice work, ma.

I fixed my error and asked, “Is that better?”

“Yeah.” Lies down, sleeps.

When do they learn to walk down the hall to take care of that themselves? Probably before he regularly sleeps through the night, right?

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