The Trifecta

A few weeks ago, we had a pretty big weekend.  First, Grant slept all night.  ALL NIGHT.  Like, ten consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Second, Grant got his first tooth.  Seems counterintuitive to sleeping through the night, right?  But those things happened.  And third, Miles officially learned how to use the toilet full-time.  That was The Trifecta.

But we’ve learned that with all things awesome, there can sometimes be a little catch.  A little something unexpected.  Or expected.  It happens.

The caveats to our trifecta weekend:

Sleeping through the night.  In all of Grant’s time on earth, he has slept through the night less than a handful of times (that’s less than five, people).  It’s no biggie, really, because we’ve learned that after you have one kid you never, ever sleep the same again.  Every sneeze, roll, squeak and meow will awaken you, probably because parents never truly enter REM sleep.  It’s the sort of insomnia in which you can fall asleep just fine, but wake up shortly thereafter, and repeatedly throughout the night.  Grant settled into the routine of waking up once overnight to eat, and he’s kept that same pattern.  Around 2am, I know he’s going to call us to cash in our “ha, you thought you were going to sleep?!” tab.  He’s only up long enough to eat, but I often find myself up long enough to watch three episodes of Roseanne (side note: I can tell you TV Land’s entire overnight programming schedule).  When Grant did sleep through the night, we relished in the uninterrupted hours (although I woke up twice just to make sure I was actually sleeping) but we did know it was probably a fluke.  And it was.  One day, he’ll be a teenager and he’ll sleep all night and then some (right?  please tell me he’ll sleep one day…) but until then, we exhaustingly enjoy our special time at 2am.  Every night.  Without fail.

The first tooth.  Aah, the first tooth is awesome because IT’S THE FIRST TOOTH!  But the first tooth can also make your sweet baby a total asshole.  So, there’s the caveat.  Grant has been an adorable jerk for a week or so now, and this tooth popping up explains it all.

Learning to use the toilet.  This is awesome, right?  I mean it’s one less kid in diapers.  But it is also a weapon to be used against you.  For example, Miles thinks he should get marshmallows every time he poops now.  He also manages to make bedtime last a full 45 minutes longer than usual because he knows that we don’t know if he really needs to go to the bathroom and we will naturally respond to every “Moooom, I have to peeee!” by escorting him to the bathroom half a dozen times until he finally gives up and realizes that 1). we aren’t letting him stay up and 2). you do not get marshmallows every time you sit on the toilet.  Yes, our lives are controlled by this three foot tall dictator.

All of these things are awesome, and we are super proud.  Super tired, but super proud.

boys

I buy Café Bustelo in bulk now.

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Winning isn’t everything (unless it’s bedtime).

The Global Parenting Truth: Consistently easy bedtimes are the unicorn of the toddler universe. That’s not to say bedtime is a never-ending battle of wits (although I’m sure it is for some – and for you, parents of bedtime battlers, I send you wine and chocolate and coffee) but bedtime, at least in our house, is always an adventure.

Bathtime has always been a dad thing. Maybe Dad is the fun bathtime guy because he lets Miles bring 847 Batman toys into the tub, along with every triceratops, stegosaurus, t-rex and other –aurus type prehistoric creatures. Once Miles hit a certain age, he decided that just because bathtime had ended didn’t mean he needed to say goodnight to these metal and plastic toys of bedtime weaponry. Oh no; we needed to bring them to bed with us.

So my husband is sort of a pushover when it comes to things like this. He’ll admit it himself (LOVE YOU, HONEY). The nightly challenge of choosing two toys and two toys only to bring to bed began. And, as with any toddler negotiation, this easily escalated into three, four, five, and then seventeen thousand toys. I’m positive there was a night I asked Miles if he would just prefer sleeping in his toy box with a pillow because clearly that’s the direction in which we were headed. (Note: don’t ask toddlers questions like that, because the answer is always YES)

But it wasn’t enough to bring all the toys to bed; oh, no…we had to bring the toys with pieces. Legos. Guys who wore hats. Dogs with construction trucks. Do you know what happens to a toddler’s world when his Lego guy loses a hat before he falls asleep? CHAOS.

Miles: “Mama! Daddy! Mama! Daddy! Come in! Quick!”

Me: *running because clearly this is an emergency* “Hey buddy, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Miles: “Ryder fell off his motorcycle.”

Me: “…”

For those who aren’t as “with it” as parents of toddlers are, you should know that Ryder is on Paw Patrol. He rides an ATV and leads dogs around town to save the day. I could give you a more detailed explanation but A). It’s sort of weird I know this much about Paw Patrol and B). It’s even weirder that I really like Paw Patrol and could write an overly lengthy thesis on it because C). I was like a NO TV EVER mom and now I’m like an “Okay, some TV is fine if it means I can cook dinner and go to the bathroom without worrying about you climbing on the dining room table.” What were we talking about?

BEDTIME.

So, Ryder fell off his motorcycle. And guess what? I put him back on. Then at 8:17p, he fell off again. He fell off at 8:23p, 8:35p, and 8:52p. Like good hippie parents, we want Miles to have his things in his space, but we had reached the point of needing to stop this incessant Ryder falling off his ATV thing. And so, we instilled A LIMIT. Dun dun dun.

Miles: “Mama! Mama, come quick!”

Me: “Yes, Miles?”

Miles: “Mama, Ryder fell off AGAIN. He’s so silly.”

Me: “Okay Miles, I will put Ryder back on one time, and one time only. If he falls off again, you will need to either learn how to put him back on yourself, or let Ryder sleep without riding his ATV.”

BOOM. Limit = set.

The following night, Miles wanted to take his entire menagerie of rubber insects to bed. And this time, we introduced yet another limit: two toys, and two toys only. And the nightly process of choosing which two would stay began again. Just like that, the limit was set again.

But of course a child can’t just take a toy to bed and go to sleep. No, toys are to be played with, and we both understand and expect that to happen. The reality is that none of us just lay down and fall asleep. We read, we watch TV, we think about the day, but we need some time to unwind. For Miles, that time involves our nightly routine of bathtime, jammies and the longest Dr. Seuss books he can find, but even then, he’s not necessarily ready to sleep. And so he usually talks to his stuffed animals or toys after we’ve said goodnight.

The occasional chat with his four teddy bears or Thomas the Train turned into what sounded like a demolition derby through the monitor. Certain toys – ones with wheels – must be played with on top of the dresser. WHO KNEW?! And so, another limit was introduced: no toys with wheels. Something along the lines of, “Fine, Mom” was the response, but I ignored this because I’m not ready to have a teenager.

Miles would still get a little rambunctious with his bedtime companions, and so I reminded him that if it was difficult for him to fall asleep with the toys, and that if he felt the need to play instead of just putting them to bed with him, we would need to say goodnight to our toys in the tub. He nodded in understanding.

And now…NOW, I was winning. The next night, we had our regular routine. Miles chose his two favorite Batmen of the day. We put on jammies, we read The Lorax and Little Blue Truck and Goodnight Moon. We snuggled and talked about the day. We said goodnight. I closed the door.

Standing in the kitchen washing the days dishes, I noticed how calm and peaceful and blessedly quiet it was in the house. No one was asking me to put some guy back on an ATV, or put a hat back on a Lego, and no one was mashing buttons on a damn Thomas the Train that can’t stop telling me he has big important jobs to do (JUST GO TO SLEEP, THOMAS). I was winning!

I washed dishes. I put on my PJs. I sat down to read. I silently patted myself on the back and congratulated my ability to set limits and talk to my child and come to a mutual agreement. For the love, I actually knew what I was doing.

Then my husband got home, and asked why Miles’ bedroom light was on, since it was now 8:30p.

‘Scuse me. His light is on?!

I walked down the hallway and as sure as the sky is blue, there was a sliver of light peeking from beneath his door. I opened it, and found Miles playing very, very quietly at his train table, with soft toys that make no noise.

“Mama, look how quiet I can be!”

And I laughed, because he’s cute, and he’s also much smarter than me. You see, our discussion had frequently involved the fact that bedtime was a quiet time. Well, here he was, being quiet. Who am I to argue when he’s truly doing the one thing I was asking him to do?

The truth is that I am consistently outsmarted, but in the most adorable way. You win some, you win some.

PS – It’s important to know that as I sat here writing, I was summoned by my tiny dictator to come to his room so he could tell me that his new big trucks do not, in fact, fit behind his headboard. IMPORTANT. Kids are so weird.

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JUST TIRED.

When you become new parents, you enter into a new level of tiredness. Before you have children, you are accustomed to awaking only at your own needs; you sleep until 8am if you’d like, then spend two hours enjoying your coffee while you catch up on celebrity gossip and work the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. You take naps – half an hour, two hours, six hours, any length you choose – on the weekends at any time. If it’s your prerogative to spend seven hours on Saturday reading, you are free to do so. You are rested and refreshed more often than not, and if you’re feeling tired, you can generally do something about it.

But when you become a parent for the first time, you come to terms with the fact that your sleep is no longer your sleep. In the very early months, you exist in a world of naps, and not actual “sleep.”  Life is lived three hours at a time.  As babies grow older, they eventually find their routine, and you do get more consistent(ish) sleep…but it’s never guaranteed. Additionally, you will find that no matter how old your children get, your sleep will never be the same as it was before you became a parent, because now you’ve been given the gift of super sonic hearing. Every little noise, while not always requiring your attention, will surely awaken you.

Then you have your second child. You are so adjusted to the new normal, that you really don’t feel too tired (probably because it’s no longer the “new” normal – it’s just regular normal with a dark roast extra bold kicker at 5am). In fact, you remark at how easy it is to just add a second child to the mix. You wonder why you didn’t do this sooner (although if we had done it any sooner, we would have just had twins…)

And then it happens: THE FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION.  HISS BOO HISSSSSS.

Newborns sleep a lot. Like, A LOT. Naps all day, and all night. Lots of sleep is to be had. They awaken to eat, burp, poop, take a bath, roll around and look at the ceiling fan and whatever else you’re jingling in their faces, and by then they’re tired again and off to nap.

But infants are a different story. You know your newborn has become an infant when they reach the first sleep regression. This is when babies begin experiencing REM sleep. They are such deep, sound sleepers when they’re newborns because they don’t know how to sleep any other way except deeply. Their worlds are rocked when REM enters the picture, because now they experience light sleep. So light, they wake up thinking, “WHAT THE HELL? WHERE AM I? IS IT TIME TO PLAY? AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT? WHY IS IT SO DARK?”

Friends, we are in the thick of the four month sleep regression, and while I thought my mind and body was well-adjusted to having two children, my children would like to remind me of otherwise.  And isn’t that the thing about these beautiful, spirited, loving little creatures?  Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, BOOM: sleep regression, teeth, bad dreams, toilet learning, refusal to sleep in pajamas with sleeves.  If being kept on your toes was an Olympic sport, parents would win all the gold medals forever and always.

But let’s talk about being T-I-R-E-D (something else in which I’d win all the gold medals)

Example of the current level of exhaustion:

Three nights ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by my oldest cat, Pookie, in the early stages of hacking up a hairball in our bed. Instead of helping him down, getting a paper towel in front of him and cleaning it up when it finally dislodged itself, I just shoved him off the bed with my foot and rolled over, praying that he didn’t cough anything up in bed. I didn’t even bother checking; I just went back to sleep.

Two nights ago, I noticed he had, in fact, coughed up a hairball in our bed. But I noticed it was on Evan’s side of the bed, so I went to sleep.  LOVE YOU HONEY XOXOXOX.

Last night, I noticed the hairball was still in bed, and it was now floating freely as Pookie had spotted it and subsequently began batting it around like a toy. But it was a small hairball, really…no bigger than a dime, and so I rolled over and went to sleep. Exhaustion level classified as: “It’s just a small hairball.”

Other examples:

One morning this week, I made coffee with no coffee – just water. I did not notice until I had actually poured it into my coffee mug.

I called Miles by Grant’s name and vice versa at least once a day. I may have called Grant by Frankie’s name. Frankie is another one of our cats. He and Grant bear no striking resemblance.

I read 50 pages in my current book. I know this, because I dog-eared where I finished reading. When I opened the book the following evening, I remembered nothing I had read, and had to re-read those 50 pages. Does sleep reading exist? If so, I’m doing it.

For dinner one night this week, Miles enjoyed two bananas, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, raisins and an ice cream cone. But he’s always been on the skinnier side, so this seemed like a good idea to me.

The most telling sign of exhaustion: I FELL ASLEEP BEFORE FINISHING A GLASS OF WINE. It’s also worth noting that it was the first glass of wine I’ve had in three weeks.

So, yes, it’s always possible to grow more tired. We eagerly await the day that Grant will officially sleep completely through the night, and not wake up at 2am to eat. Then 2:30am to play. Then 3:30am to burp. Then 4:00am to tell me he’s awake. Then 5:00am because ISN’T THIS WHEN WE NORMALLY GET UP ANYWAY, MOM?!

While admiring my face in the mirror today, I noticed some nice, summery blond streaks in my hair. Upon closer inspection, I found they were actually gray, but they’re scattered enough so that from far away, they give the illusion of blond.

Gray is the new blond anyway, you know.

Most frequently used image on this blog, BTW.

Most frequently used image on this blog, BTW.

These Tired Memories

Now that folks can sort of recognize that I’m pregnant (instead of just assuming I’m eating too much ice cream) the most popular question I receive is, “Are you tired?”  My answer to this question is short, and never changes:

Yes, I am tired.  But I would be tired even if I weren’t pregnant.

You see, we have a toddler.  A lively, spirited, rambunctious, loving, amazing toddler.  Our days are filled with running, jumping, climbing and exploring, arts and crafts that leave painted footprints across the dining room floor, and baking sessions that involve more eating of sprinkles than decorating with them.  We are busy.  We are tired.  And we love it.

After the sticky and dirty of the day has been washed away, and I’m lying in bed (surely falling asleep three pages into a book I’ve started at least a dozen times) with just the still, quiet night outside my window, I remember the past hours.  And even though my bones and muscles may be sore, with my mental faculties all but ceasing to function, I am happy and peaceful, for it is the best kind of tired there is.

Of course the days are not always easy; learning and growing involves pains (as does teething, climbing, and not getting your way…)  But even in those very difficult days, where getting through the next hour seems impossible, I am happy.  This is what love does: it manifests an overwhelming happiness and joy in your soul that absolutely nothing can diminish.

When you become a first-time parent, folks want to talk about your “me” time, and where it’s gone…do you miss it?  Lying on the couch all day on Saturday, reading and eating cookies?  Or watching reruns of Roseanne?  Going to Target at the drop of a hat?  Carrying a purse or bag that doesn’t need to hold ALL THE THINGS?  Planning a day that doesn’t need to incorporate naptime?  I don’t know; I don’t think I miss it, because my “me” time is still mine, but it’s different now – it’s “us” time.  Sure, I get some quiet time while Miles naps, and I usually read or nap myself, but it’s far from my favorite part of the day (although trust me, there are days where it’s close).

When I’m growing older, turning gray (okay, grayer…) and moving more like a turtle than a fox, I will not look back and reminisce on naps or reading or shopping.  I will not look back fondly on the original, pre-children “me” time.  Because when I am in my 60s, 70s, 80s, and hopefully 90s, the memories I will treasure most are the tired ones.  The days where we could never climb enough trees, swing on enough swings, smear enough paint or read enough books.  The days that left me, at 8pm, asleep on my feet.  The days that were a whirlwind of scribbles and crumbs and laughter.  Because those memories are the most important and valuable and cherished and loved.

One day, my children will be older.  They will choose their own snacks, dress themselves, spend time with friends on the weekends, and become involved in extracurricular activities. They will grow more independent as they begin to experience life on their own.  And there will be many, many years of quiet afternoons for me one day – a day that will most certainly arrive sooner than I am prepared for.

But they could never, ever hold a candle to the afternoons of today.  Even when I’m tired (SO TIRED).  We will never look back and say, “more naps”; we will always look back and say, “more laughter, more mud, more snuggles, more adventure, more love.”

More of this, always.

More of this, always.

More,

K