Wow, three months since my last post. It feels like a year since I had a moment or the brain power to actually sit here and start typing. We are in the midst of what I can honestly say is the hardest phase of parenthood we have been through to date. And I thought potty training was a difficult phase. I would trade a trouser bomb any day for the knowledge that we were heading into a good night’s sleep.
A quick update for anyone that has followed our saga de poop: Potty training the little man is as complete as we are going to get until he learns to wipe his own butt and actually aim, but we’ll take what we can get. We are now the proud owners of an EXTENSIVE Lego collection, but it was worth every brightly coloured block to find a reward system that actually worked.
That is the “good” part of this post. The “bad” and the “depths of hell” are all kind of rolled into one with the update to come.
Right around the beginning of December, the little man started to get anxious about bedtime. It escalated pretty quickly, mixed together with some nightmares about horses and some very tired parents.
Since we went through sleep training three years ago, he’s been a champion. He has gone to bed with no issues, slept through the night except for the occasional night terror, and although he’s always been an early riser, it’s been fine. Now all of a sudden he won’t go to sleep if we’re not in the room, and he wakes constantly throughout the night and freaks out if we’re not there, or runs into our room screaming. He then won’t go to sleep again unless we’re with him. Every single night.
It started out as fear, then anxiety, and lately it’s become a power struggle, pure and simple. The fear is gone because we actually talked to the imaginary horses, gave them names, and asked them to leave. We’re still working through the anxiety, but at some point the getting up and screaming became more habit than anything else.
Well, to be more accurate, it’s killing me. Mr. Awesome has absolutely proven his moniker throughout this time, and especially this past week. I was literally falling apart. I do not do well with little, or frequently interrupted sleep. I was a basket case most of the time, flipping between sobbing and a numbness that felt like the precipice of depression.
On Monday of last week we went to our doctor and he told us to back to sleep training. We didn’t really know that you could do that with a four and a half year old, but after some exhaustive (pun intended) searches online and a re-read of our original sleep training book, we decided to give it a go.
Because I was past the point of coping, Mr. Awesome gave me earplugs and told me to go to bed, saying he would take the first night. This had more meaning to me than any bouquet of flowers – that was pure LOVE, baby. And he took the next few nights too, working through the repetition of going in at regular intervals and letting the little man know everything was okay and that it was time to be asleep.
It is not easy. Last time it took three nights and we were done. A four and a half year old is a lot different than an 18 month old. (Duh.) The last time we went through this he was in a CRIB, for Pete’s sake. He’s constantly getting out of bed, turning on his light, saying he needs to go to the bathroom, anything and everything to avoid going to bed without us in the room.
Last night was night #5 and we’re still not seeing a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. Mr. Awesome went camping last night with friends so it was all me. I was dreading it. It wasn’t great and I did leave the TV on all night so the little man would think I was on the couch, but it was definitely better. Marginally.
Mr. Awesome will hate the electricity bills, but that just might be the price of a rested child and wife. You find what works best for your family and roll with it, right?