Leah has never been the kind of child who wanted or needed to be rocked to sleep. As a baby, she was always happiest, and went to sleep best, laying down drowsy with her thumb and soothing herself to sleep. However, since graduating to a toddler bed, bedtime has literally become a nightmare. With rare exception, she is put to bed no less than 5 times a night before she stays put. Even at 2 years old, she is a master of bedtime bargaining – she needs more Sippy cup, she wants kisses from Dad, she requests to sleep with her brothers, asks to watch TV, etc. More often than not she is in tears and I am beyond frustrated before she is finally in bed for the night. It’s a downright crappy way to end the day.
Tonight was no exception, and was compounded by the fact that she was *exhausted*. We have been transitioning out of naps this week, in hopes that she would be tired at 8:00 every night, instead of 10:00 or 11:00. We had also spent the day at the waterpark, where she did “big jumps” into the pool, swam like a fish, and went down the big slide over and over again. We finally left, mid melt-down, because she was just worn out. When bedtime came, I thought she might actually go quietly, because she was sooooo tired. Unfortunately, I must have waited just this much too long because when we started our bedtime battle, Leah was a mess from the beginning. She started crying right away, smacked herself in the lip with the door while attempting to peek out, wailed that her Sippy cup was too empty, and on and on. We did this for almost an hour (which I know because her lullaby cd was over and it runs for 45 minutes) and I was just DONE. Brian suggested I bring her into our bed and settle her there, but I refused. (At some point I would like a child-free bed, and we won’t ever get there if I keep giving in.) So back in her room we went, but this time, Leah wanted to rock.
When Leah was born, my mother gave me her rocking chair. She had rocked me in it when I was a baby, as her mother had with her. Both of my boys loved to be rocked, yet we had never had a good rocking chair, and she wanted me to have it for Petunia. Up to this point though, it had seen most of its use when I was still nursing, and since then has held clothes or blankets, and occasionally Leah when she “reads”. Tonight, it creaked and squeaked as we rocked, but my little girl actually started settling down. She lay for several minutes, curled up against my chest, fighting sleep as her lids got heavier and heavier. Finally, I leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Mommy’s got you baby, go to sleep”. Her eyelids fluttered once, then shut for the night.
These are the moments I live for as a mother, for several reasons. First, I love to hold my children while they sleep, to watch their little chests rise and fall, and wonder what they dream about. My babies are so active during the day, to see their little faces peaceful in sleep is almost reverent. However, I also love moments like these because they ground me, and remind why I became I mother in the first place. I love my children. Fiercely. They are the first things I think of when I wake up, and the last things I think of before I go to sleep, and a million times in between. Moments like these make me slow down, and amidst all the other hubbub and drama in life, they remind me of one simple truth. These small, beautiful, amazing, precious children are gifts entrusted to me from my Father in Heaven, and nothing else matters so much as what I do for them, and with them.
If I will just slow down and be patient enough, my children will show me the kind of mother they each need me to be.