Gone are the days where my sweet, sweet, little Alice would drift peacefully off to sleep and slumber undisturbed past eight in the morning. Once she started teething, she started to remind me of her brother’s sleep habits… He just started sleeping through the night just past the age of three, and we still wake to find him snuggled in bed with us every now and again.
Though she quit sleeping through the night in August, she would still go to sleep easily for me. Yes, I still rock her to bed, and no, I would NEVER judge those of you who have trained their children to put themselves to bed all by themselves. Good for you, you have great resolve, or awesome kiddos, both or whatever. I am just one of those moms who feels like it is what Alice needs – a little extra bonding time that I am more than happy to give her.
When I say “more than happy” I mean it in the sense that I am “more than happy” to have Lilliput boogers on my shoulder or that I am “more than happy” to clean poop out of a bathtub full of water. It isn’t glamorous or my idea of a good time, but it goes with the territory. And I am perfectly at peace with that.
Lately, though, Alice has been a bear to get to sleep – much like Finn has been since he was born almost four years ago. Since she still takes a morning nap (thank god) and an afternoon nap, and wakes frequently at night, I am spending about an hour and a half to four hours of my day getting her to sleep. I’m not gonna sugar coat it for you; it kinda blows.
This is a typical round for the two of us:
Circle One: The Snuggle Bug – This is my favorite stage; she is tired, happy to be in my arms and ready to fall asleep. We are getting to the point where she’s about ready to be completely weaned, so she still snuggles, but I’m feeling like that’s about to change. Beware, though. Even though it seems like nap time will be easy this time – it is a ruse. Alice has other plans…
Circle Two: Denial – Just as she is all happy and snug as a bug in a rug (and I’m totally thinking that this time is going to be different), she realizes that I am trying to put her to sleep. I’m postulating that her thought process is a little something like this: Oh, Mom, I love you. Let us cuddle all day… It is so nice and warm here, and you are smiling, and – WHAT? What are you trying to pull, lady? You think you are going to get me to fall asleep this way; oh HELL no. This was a trap, I know I shouldn’t have drunk that roofies-laden breast milk! I will fight you to the death, I’ll cut a bitch, just so you know. I will NOT go down without a fight. And somehow, she goes from being a twenty-five pound feather-weight to having the strength of an ox. I’m not sure what voodoo she works, but she is apt to kick, push and even bite.
Circle Three: The Wide-Eyed Wonder – She finally gives up the kicking, and now just lays there, eyes wide, thumb in her mouth, quiet and still. Which would be nice, if only she would just close her eyes and GO TO SLEEP. This is by far the longest stage; she’ll just stare at me for what seems like hours. The only way this stage gets any more frustrating is when she fights to keep her eyes open. You know, where you try desperately hard to keep your eyes open during another dull all-staff meeting, but your head just keeps lolling around on its weak, rubbery neck. Only with Alice, it seems she never submits. She doesn’t care that the Finance Department has twelve other spreadsheets to go over – she will keep her eyes open like she’s watching Ryan Gosling undress at a snail’s pace.
Go The F*ck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach
Circle Four: Asleep… Just Kidding! – Many a time in my rookie years, Finn would fall asleep, only just asleep, and I would make the mistake of putting him down, only to start the process all over again. This is the point where Alice looks like she is asleep, but she is pulling a Grandpa Tom and “resting her eyes.” She is still sucking vigorously away on that thumb, hoping that I’ll fall for her charade and place her ever so gently into her crib.
Circle Five: Self/Mom Mutilation – I’m not sure why on earth humans have evolved in such a way that our bodies wake us up just as we stand on the precipice of sweet slumber. Instead of doing that giant flinch when you think you are going to fall off the bed when you are half asleep, Alice starts to poke and scratch at herself or me. She’ll poke herself in the eye, pull her hair, scratch at her face, or even more frustrating – she will do it to me. I love paper-thin baby nails scratching away at my armpit as much as the next guy, but it is better than her fifteen-year-old-boy-radio-knobbing my nipples. It is even more uncomfortable now than it was way back then. I’ll gladly take a toddler-sized index finger up the nose over her manhandling my poor little ninnies.
Circle Six: The Home Stretch Flail – After she is done maiming herself and me, she starts flopping around like a fish out of water. She is barely asleep, but her tiny body writhes around hopelessly. It is much like wrestling a pair of Siamese twin, twleve pound alligators… One of them desperately wants to catch forty winks, but the other JUST WANTS TO DANCE, BEYATCH! Bring on the leg warmers and big hair; Jennifer Beals aint got nothing on this little lady.
The Inner Circle – DEAD TO THE WORLD – The thumb falls out of her mouth. She is snoring a very un-ladylike snore, and I am ready to hoist myself out of the rocker and put her to bed. Unfortunately, the world has other plans. Finn has just finished pooping and “NEEDS TO BE WIPED, MOM!!” The doorbell rings; Nathan’s newest gadget needs to be signed for. The dogs notice a little, old lady shuffling down her driveway to get her mail – She must be a threat to our existence! BARK, BARK, BARKETY BARK, GROWL! And all my time has been wasted. I must proceed back to the first circle, only this time, Alice thinks she has just had a nap (even though it was only 12 minutes long), so she is ready for the world!!
This, by the way, is really just one long excuse as to why you have been hearing so little from me these days. And really, as much as I HATE the Cry It Out method, I’m almost to that point. The good news is that this is just a phase. If she is anything like her brother, Alice will be sleeping by herself in… Wait for it… Two and a half more years.
Sure, I can handle that. Sigh.