Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who’s in Charge Here?

As I sit in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart with Kensie sleeping heavily behind me in her car seat, I can’t help but reflect on the past few months. Not a lot has changed. I’m still a single mom freelancing to make ends meet (yay for freelance work!), still living with the parents (thank goodness, really, for this one), still without much of a social life (I’m sorry, what does “dating” mean again?), and still . . . barely sleeping.

As you know, Kensie has never been the best sleeper. She never really slept through the night until she was about 1 1/2 years old, and then it was pretty short-lived. But now, at more than 2 1/2 years old, things have actually gotten worse. Not only does she not sleep through the night, but she comes into my room and either cries to get into my bed or sneaks in. Initially, I didn’t think it’d really be much of a problem being she’s really still a baby (my baby!) and just wants to sleep with her mommy, and that just makes sense at her age, right? Well this is what I told myself when she first began the practice. So I decided that I’d let her do it until she reached 3 (much to the chagrin of several of my mommy friends) and put the nix on it then. But as the days and nights (seemingly unending) went on and on, I began to realize that I was going to have to make some changes.

The reason Kensie napped behind me in her car seat in the Wal-Mart parking lot on this day was because she fell asleep on the way home from a play date, and she was so tired all morning I just couldn’t bring myself to wake her. So, as so many times before, I sat quietly and wrote as Kensie slept. And after about an hour (which is a normal naptime for K now), she woke, was happy to be at the store, then skipped daintily by my side as we walked in to pick up a few necessities. The rest of the afternoon was typical. Playtime, a DVD, snack time, playtime: You know the drill.

By dinnertime and after much discussion with family and friends about a “sleep plan” for Kensie and me, I had made the decision: Mean Mommy Must Materialize! I’d threatened K a few times in the past few months with locking her in her room if she came out to get into my bed, but I never followed through with it (this is likely the worst form of parenting there is, by the way) because it was just too hard! It’s so much easier to throw them in the bed and fall back asleep (until the kicking in the head and stuffing their feet under your back as you try to get comfortable ensues). So I took the easy road, and I paid the price. My “baby” had taken over the only free space and time I had in this world. But tonight, it was all going to end.

As I got Kensie ready for bed, I explained to her my “plan.” “Baby, when Mommy puts you to bed tonight, you need to stay in your bed all night until you see the sun come in through the window in the morning.” “Will I see it today, Mommy?” “No baby, in the morning.” “Today?” She’s not quite got the today/tonight/in the morning concept yet. “Mommy sleeps in Mommy’s bed, and you sleep in your bed. And . . . ” (insert deep breath and attempt at stern voice here) “if you come out of your room at all tonight . . . ” (breathe, breathe, breathe . . . now do it!) “Mommy’s going to put you back in the bed and . . . ” (don’t be a wuss already!) “lock the door!” “OK Mommy, I won’t come out of my room tonight. I love you Mommy!” Whew, OK, it was done. And the kicker to the story: Kensie didn’t come out of her room all night until the first flicker of sun came through the window at about 6:20 a.m.

Dude, this kid’s been playing me for months!