A few weeks ago, my older brother came over for dinner on a night Kev was working swing shift. I didn't tell Seth I was flying solo when I invited him over, so you could say I maybe tricked him into coming over for food and staying to put Aspen to bed for me. But what are siblings for if not to be manipulated into doing chores for you?!
It was one of those nights I was having a really hard time getting Linc to bed. I've explained what the process entails, and it can take over an hour to be able to literally put Linc down (either in his crib or swing). That time weighs heavily on me because it means Aspen is often up past her bedtime while I'm with Linc (even when I stagger their bedtimes). Also, I'm struggling to let go of the guilt I feel about leaving Aspen to her own devices for long stretches of time while I deal with her brother.
But that night, as I heard Seth helping Aspen stay focused to brush teeth, put on jammies and look at books in her bed, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. My perspective shifted for a few moments and instead of crying about how hard it is to sleep Linc, I let my imagination fast-forward. I truly hope I can help my kids develop a relationship that resembles mine with my brother. I hope they'll talk often, and hang out together even when they don't have to. I hope that if Aspen ever crashes her brother's car, he'll forgive her instantly and be able to laugh about it 10 years later. I hope they'll cook for each other and go to movies together and take road trips and have sleepovers and dog sit for each other.
After both kids were in bed that evening, Seth and I sat in the living room together to talk for a couple of hours. He said I'm doing something for my kids that our parents couldn't do for us. Well, technically, it's what our dad wouldn't do. And because he wouldn't, my mom couldn't. Because our dad wouldn't work to help support the family, and he wouldn't fulfill the role of stay-at-home-parent either, we were just kind of taking care of ourselves and each other while growing up. And guess what. It didn't ruin me or my childhood (obviously, I had bigger problems as a kid than worrying about someone being home to make me a snack after school).
Yes, it's hard being with the kids by myself most of the time. Yes, it's hard to function on so little sleep. Yes, it's hard that Linc won't sleep unless I do a magic song and dance. Yes, it's all so very hard. Some days it doesn't feel worth the effort. But I'm doing what works best for our family, and I'm trying. Even if I fail, at least I'm trying.
After revealing what I felt like was a dirty little secret, I received a number of supportive responses. Lindsay emailed me and described her experience with her own son. I cried as I read her words, feeling such a kinship with her. We haven't even met in real life yet! But she said she gets it, and she explained how she understands the exasperation, the fatigue, the guilt... all of it. I was so uplifted as I read her email in the middle of the night, two hours into holding Linc and praying I could sleep sitting up. She gave me hope that some day Linc will just outgrow this. That some day I'll get out of survival mode and have a life again.
I've come to terms with the fact that Linc won't be sleep trained by me. He doesn't need a different kind of swaddle or white noise or night light or diet or temperature control or routine or Ferberization or delayed-response or pick-up-put-down or more food before bed or less food before bed or any other sleep training method you can throw at him. He just needs to be ready. As hard as it has been to accept, my gut tells me it's the truth.
And as Lorelei stated after reading my post, it's sometimes really hard to just get through another day. So thinking of this going on for months is very overwhelming. Lindsay's son started sleeping better by age two. That's a long way off for me at this point. I try not to think about another year and three months of bouncing Linc to sleep on a ball (oh, my aching back). Hopefully before then we'll graduate to something less grueling for my body. He's such a busy kid already that maybe he'll start wearing himself out so much during the day he'll fall asleep if I just lie down with him for a while. I don't know. The point is I'm trying to talk myself out of the desperation I feel when it's time to put Linc to sleep.
So for now I'll keep bouncing on that dang ball and counting to 100 over and over again in my head to keep myself distracted from how hard it is. And some day it won't be so hard.
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