Little Victories

You guys, my baby hates to sleep.

Wait, that’s not exactly true. He hates going to sleep.

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You know how you see people post those truly adorable photos of their babies conked out on playmats or in highchairs or on their mamas’ chests? Every time I see one of those, my heart kind of feels how it felt when Dobby died. If I looked over and saw my baby asleep on his playmat, I would probably rush him to the ER. No, this baby has to be gotten to sleep. In fact, Caleb and I have spent full days of our lives bouncing, shushing, patting, stroking, singing, rocking, cuddling, and praying fervently. Our baby has spent whole days of his life wide awake. There’s just too many ceiling fans to examine and far too much of the world he hasn’t yet drooled on to go to sleep. He communicates this by screaming any time you make the slightest motion that might suggest you’re thinking about beginning Nap Time.

To “fix” the problem, I’ve read the baby sleep books. I’ve read the blog posts and Instagram posts and Facebook posts. My major takeaway was that we needed to create a nap time routine so that Emerson would understand when it’s time to sleep (they call these “sleep cues.”) So we hung blackout curtains, put a fan and a sound machine in our bedroom, gave him a soft blankie to snuggle, bought a rocking chair, and started swaddling him at nap time so that he would get it. And boy does he get it. Every time we even get near my bedroom (where he still sleeps), he starts to whimper. The great news is that it worked; that is, he won’t go to sleep at all now unless his routine is followed carefully, especially the fervent prayers part. Also, it’s important to note that our offspring gets reeeeally cranky when he doesn’t nap.

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All this is to say (believe it or not) that a whole lot of my life revolves around getting a little baby to sleep. As primary baby holder, I’m the one who spends the most time bouncing and shushing and swaying (this is stage one.) Once Emerson realizes I mean ball and he has to nap, the crying will (usually) stop. Those little eyes will grow heavy. Then I ease my way into the rocking chair. I rock. And I rock. I watch the little eyes fight and fight. I rock some more (this is stage two.) Occasionally, he’ll get a burst of energy and start to cry again, so I rock faster. Eventually, most of the time, it ends with me halting my breathing, tiptoing to the bassinet, laying him down ever so–the ever so is really important here–gently, and then spending a good 10 minutes staring at the monitor, disbelieving that he is truly asleep (this is stage three.)

Sometimes he’s not. Sometimes, I ease the door closed, tiptoe into the living room, and pick up the baby monitor to see wide, bright eyes staring at me. I won’t lie–this has made me cry more times than I care to admit. I’ve sobbed as I tiptoed back in, picked him up, and started the process over.

But all that rocking gives time for reflection. And one day, after whining to Caleb about how many hours per day I spend trying to get Emerson to sleep, I had myself a good old rocking chair revelation. (Those probably only exist south of the Mason-Dixon): I could hate this season of rocking. Or I could embrace it.

I’m trying–hard–to embrace it.

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For me, embracing it doesn’t mean sitting, staring, soaking up the joy of rocking my baby. (I love to rock my baby, but trust me, I’ve spent lots of time staring at his sweet little face. I know, I know. They grow so fast.) For me, it’s more about not letting my day get shoved in the dumpster if he decides to wake up 10 minutes after I put him down; even more than that, it’s about celebrating when he takes a nap.

Before this season of my life, I was in one of big victories. Over the course of a few years, I graduated college, moved to a new city, found an awesome job, got married, added two cats and a couple humans to the mix, moved again. It was chock full of stuff happening, of meeting deadlines and making decisions. But now, I’m spending three hours a day sitting, rocking. It’s easy to feel defeated when you don’t even get a sleeping baby out of that. It’s even easier to forget to rejoice when you do.

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I’m finding more and more that this is the season of the little victory. These are the days of high-fiving myself because I found time to write a blog post or patting myself on the back because I made the bed (OK, sometimes they’re tiny victories…minuscule even.) I count it as a win if I make it through the day tantrum-free (bonus points if the 3-year-old does, too) and I thank God for every hot shower I take and hot cup of coffee I drink, because neither of those things are givens these days. Like my dear friend (OK, I’ve never met him but he wrote my favorite book) Jon McGregor says, “There are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are. If nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?”

One day soon, we’re going to have to teach Emerson how to go to sleep by himself. We know that’s the right decision for everyone in the house. But today, I’m rocking, counting up every single remarkable thing I can think of and that–that is making all the difference.

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