We don’t sleep much around here. My daughter has never slept well. The night she was born I started walking the floor. Between the hours of 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. she cried, and cried, and cried, and wouldn’t sleep. Every. Single. Night. We would take shifts. I would walk her, and sing in the evening until her dad got home at 10 and took over. We have been lucky on the nights she sleeps through. As if getting to sleep wasn’t bad enough, she also can’t stay asleep. Several sleep studies, medications, and every wives tale you could think of, and still it’s a difficult thing for her.
I understand. I am fairly nocturnal, although not as much as I used to be. I would stay up until early morning hours to read, write, clean, or work. These days I try to be a little more careful with my body. But it was no surprise that my girl turned out just like me. Every night we take our pills, fill our water, and then she goes to bed, and I work a few hours more. She is usually still up a few hours, but thankfully has gotten better at staying in her bed and winding down.
Tonight she couldn’t get herself to turn off. I always send her back to bed and firmly tell her to try again. I don’t know why this night was different. I don’t know why I needed her to have some good memories of not sleeping. I just kept thinking that if she looks back on her childhood, and all the times she got up, and I just got irritated would be sad.
Why couldn’t I make a few good memories for her too? Why when she looks back does all she have to see is me being firm? There really was no reason whatsoever. If I was firm, and sent her back to bed then she would always remember that. But, I wanted her to be able to someday tell the story about how I gave her a little fun.
So I stopped working. We gathered up all the pillows in the house. We crawled into bed, and put on a movie, and snuggled up. I’m telling you, she was asleep in less than an hour. That’s a pretty good amount of time for us. She calmed down, and closed her eyes, and sleep wasn’t far behind.
She was thrilled when I told her what we were doing. She was so happy that I put her before working. She was happy when I let her watch a movie at midnight, and she is now peacefully asleep.
The memories we make with our kids are often worth more than we know. As adults we get busy, we work a lot, we balance all the balls, and we do so much out of obligation. We often forget to stop, and actually see the tiny humans we are surrounded by. They are learning from us. Their worth, and safety, and perspective are all tied up in what we portray to them in their younger years. If we put everything else before them, we teach them that they aren’t worth as much as work, or obligations. If we push them without any time to be a kid at play or resting, we teach them an unbalanced life that could lead to many health problems. So much of what we do teaches them how to do life. Are we teaching them in a way that we will be okay with later in life?
I wanted to teach my girl tonight that she is worth more to me than work. That she can come to me when things aren’t going the way they should. That sleep, and rest are important, and perhaps not always easy to come by. I wanted to teach her that sometimes it’s okay to have fun, and do something that makes you happy no matter what time it is.
I wanted her to have the memory of movies at midnight.