It’s Complicated

15 Jul

A toddler is complex, wanting security and independence sometimes simultaneously. It can be exhausting. It can be exasperating. It can be exciting. And just as I find my daughter to fit the “complex” description of a toddler I know that my feelings lately are just as complicated. There are times when I look at her and get wistful because she is not a baby anymore. But there are other times that I see a new relationship growing, and it is so exciting I find myself looking forward to the changes I know are coming.

I’ve mentioned a few times (or an excruciating amount to a select few) how hard it has been to get Abigail to go to sleep at night — even with a calm and predictable bedtime routine and consistent timing and all that jazz. So we lay down with her a lot. “Mama stay. Daddy cuddle.” Some people would say maybe that is our problem. We should just leave her up there to go to sleep on her own, but I just can’t. For Abigail it means adventuring around her room or standing at the top of the stairs bawling her eyes out. So we lay. It’s not a perfect solution, but it makes the happiest home for us.

There are many nights that I lay up there and think, “Please. Just. Go. To. Sleep…” There are other nights that I’m asleep well before she is, and when I wake up an hour has passed and my contacts are dry, blurry, and suctioned to my eyes. Many nights it’s Ryan who stays up there and falls victim to the unintended bedtime. Sometimes we get lucky and she’s asleep in a couple of minutes. At this point it’s a crapshoot.

She’s sick tonight with coughing and congestion. I sang her our special song and when I finished she was so still I wondered if she had drifted off at last. A few minutes went by and she sat up and started talking:

Play trains at E’s house. E’s clock octagon. Lolo’s clock broken. BB’s hat and orange tractor. Watch swimming races. Kids swimming fun! Kids put on black bathing suits and hats. Fun LoLo’s house. Pop’s garden pick cucumber. Bridge. Walk bridge. Pet Molly. Shh! Molly’s sleeping. Nanny and Gramps come, fun. Drive red car. Play outside. LoLo’s red car. Pop’s be right back – pizza party! Fun Emmy. Emmy watch BB tractor. Put sunscreen on. Guy door, play ball again. Walk stroller in rain…Go back E’s tomorrow.  Play trains. Go back LoLo, Pops.

It was a running monologue of our trip to Virginia in unbelievable detail. For once I didn’t care that it was 8:37 and she wasn’t asleep. I wanted to keep whispering with her about the sweet memories we shared. My heart leapt as I realized how much she remembered, how vivid it still was to her. She said she wanted to go back and we talked about how we would — but not tomorrow or even very soon. And that’s okay, the missing something.

I don’t claim to have all of the parenting answers. I don’t.  Exhibit A:  Our bedtime situation. Every day we face new challenges. We evolve to meet the needs of Abigail and each other and our family. I could tell you what worked for me today and low and behold tomorrow it would be proven ineffective against the resolve of our determined two year old.

But I do know this. If I had not been laying with Abigail tonight I may have never known what was on her mind. So I’m glad I stayed. Maybe one day the staying will mean I get to learn a funny thing that happened at school or something she’s worried about or a problem she’s having. Maybe I’ll get to hear about her wishes or what she wants her future to be like.

I’m happy we’ve turned the corner into toddlerhood — into this world of give and take, big battles, and little conversations. There is a lot left to be celebrated. I am still very much in awe of this unique soul that belongs with us. I feel like I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of all she is becoming and all she is destined to be.

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7 Responses to “It’s Complicated”

  1. peggy July 16, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    Embrace the changes! Missing you.

  2. Kathy July 16, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    Thanks again for helping me remember Elizabeth as a toddler! No wonder it is still bedtime when she wants to talk. Now days I am asleep before she quits reading!!! Treasure every valley and Mountain top!

    I thrills me to know she remembers your trip! We will look forward to the next one!

    Love you all Kathy

  3. Mom July 16, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    Sometimes in the middle of the desert, we find a flower–one of God’s gifts when we need it the most. He’s good like that!! You are parenting with your heart, and you have a big one! Certainly Abigail will question a few things along the road as she grows up, but she will never doubt how much she is loved. (By the way, the cactus Dad rooted for you from Mam-ma’s Christmas one is flourishing!!)

  4. Carole Calle July 16, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    I loved the “midnight whispers.” Even as a teenager, my daughter would sometimes come into my bed or invite me to hers and we would whisper about everything that was on her mind, Those moments were so precious. Even now, when we visit, it seems that we always find ourselves, elbow elbow knee knee, on the sofa, sharing secrets long after everyone else is asleep. Treasure these days. Change your way of thinking about it. Don’t think “I HAVE to lay with her until she goes to sleep.” Think, instead, “I GET to lay with her until she goes to sleep.” Look forward to it. That magical moment between awake and asleep is fleeting. Just like childhood.

    • Sarah July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Wishing we could be drinking wine, telling dirty jokes, and talking about life. Miss you!

  5. Kathy July 19, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    This has to be my favorite one so far. I have read it for the 3rd time today. It gives me hope and lifts my spirit! In the valley I am walking with my “big girl” you have made me remember the why of it!

    I wish I could stay up as long as she does not to have the chats again! I have to get them at the end of swim car pool when every one is out. Not as long but I must treasure the time.

    Love you so much Kathy

    • Sarah July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      There are many MANY chats to come. Just ask my mom. ;o)

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