August 15, 2011

Sleep Training in reverse

You all remember, if you have kids, those first months (or years) where you walked around in a zombie-like stupor most of the day, soaked in the rancid marinade of sleep-deprivation. As a breast-feeding mom with my first child, I even worried about drinking too much coffee to sustain me. The chance it could filter through and keep my infant EVEN MORE awake was worse than caffeine withdrawal. I did get over that fear pretty quickly when it became clear there was no real way, mathematically, she COULD stay awake more. Anna would literally be up constantly. She’d fall asleep attached to me, wake up screaming every 30 minutes or so, then take up to an hour and a half to soothe back to sleep. Then it would begin again. All night long.

Torture. If the government really wanted to get information from someone, they should just strand them with a days-and-nights reversed newborn. A spy would cry for mercy after a week.

Eventually, just as with potty-training or any other life skill babies have to learn, sleep triumphed. For Anna and Silvia, it was about when they were a year old. Jack was six months old, for a very important reason and not just because he is totally awesome (which he is).

I let him cry. After four months of colic and finally overcoming the shock of three kids, I felt a lot less nervous about sleep-training. Basically, my guilt didn’t have the energy to override my need for seven hours of unconsciousness. It took about a week and we were there.

All that time, all those years, all that energy focused entirely of getting my children to SLEEP. Yet today, I walked into my daughters’ room at 6:45 A.M., turned on the light and shook them both awake. I wrestled them into clothing and marched them downstairs. By 7:30 and they were up, dressed and combed (but not fed), despite much protesting.

What the hell?! I woke a child up, broke the cardinal rule of parenting? My mommy-self from years back wants to slap me around the head and lock me in a closet.

Here’s what has happened. School starts in a week and everything is flipped over on its messy-haired head. Anna has to be at the bus stop at seven in the morning, Silvia at preschool (three days a week) shortly after that. Instead of trying to get my little ones to sleep past sunrise, I’m now struggling to get them up before the first glow of dawn.

A whole new journey of sleep-training has begun for us all. In my experience from the last school year, I know it’s also something we’ll have to re-visit again and again throughout the school year, getting harder as the mornings get darker. My kids don’t want to wake up. Six years ago I’d never have believed how annoying that would be.

Fortunately, I can now rely fully on the healing power of that delicious hot beverage (that I seem to mention lovingly every day), coffee. Because the only way they’d get a taste of it now, filtered or otherwise, is if I handed it to them in a brightly colored cup. And as much as I do want them to wake up without a fight... that’s not gonna happen.

I don’t share. That coffee is MINE.


Lea said...

It's so true that having to get up so early after years of sleeplessness is WRONG! I'm enjoying that Asher's preschool starts at a reasonable time, so it's an adjustment but not a huge one. But someday (sooner than later), it's going to suck!

shinybutton said...

Hi Meg! Love your blog. I found it thru the mom's board. It's a crazy, busy time with school getting started, but I left you a pm on the board, with my number, in case you wanted to talk or hang out. I didn't know if you would see it there, since you hadn't posted there in a while, so I figured I'd leave a scavenger hunt clue here. I've been in Texas since I was 2, but I'm still not used to it! My daughter and I went to a sweet concert at Watters Creek, but that was just before this heat wave hit. I can't imagine doing anything outdoors right now, unless it's in a shaded pool. That's where we spent today. Otherwise it's gotta have AC. I'm a wimp, when it comes to heat.