My father once told me he wished he had taken more photos of his children sleeping. That would require them to actually sleep, was my reply. Yes: For more than one year, sleep has been a struggle in our house. At nine months old, Genevieve has yet to hit a consistent overnight stretch. Every night Jon and I go to sleep not knowing when we'll next be awake. As for Cecile, if she doesn't fight her afternoon nap, she fights bedtime ... or both. Earlier today she slammed the door of her playroom and yelled, "Now stay in bed!" When I asked her to explain, she told me her baby doll kept getting out of her crib. Now if that isn't indicative of our nightly struggle, I don't know what is.
The cruelest part about both my kids' sleep problems is that it is likely within my power to change them. Take Genevieve, for instance. She's a breastfed baby, so when she wakes in the middle of the night, I nurse her. It's my full-proof way of knowing she's getting the comfort and calories she needs, plus she almost always goes immediately back to sleep. And as for Cecile, the afternoon nap may no longer be essential for her, but it's still very much essential for me. If they don't nap in tandem, I've often thought, I won't be long for this world. Nap time is my time to refuel. It's when I tidy the house with two hands, and prepare for the demands I know evening inevitably brings. It's when I breathe, when I can collect myself in peace.
And so I close this confessional post with a toast to my children and to their deep, slow-wave slumber: May it always be there to regulate their emotions, and mine. Please?