Getting two children to sleep, stay asleep and sleep past 5:00 a.m. is an Olympic event in our house.
- Once your darling toddler is sleeping through the night again (after a brief, 9 month hiatus of getting 16 teeth), she wakes at 5:00 a.m. for a diaper change. This isn’t much to complain about if you usually rock her for 2 hours in the middle of the night, but still, 5:00 a.m. is early.
- Your toddler quickly falls back to sleep, at which point your 4-year-old immediately wakes up and asks “is it time to wake up, Momma?” in that really loud, awake-sounding voice that means he is definitely not falling back to sleep. You know the voice. Resistance is futile.
- You try everything under the sun to
forceencourage said child to stay in bed: night lights that change colour at parents’ preferred wake time, numbers printed above a digital clock with a hopeful “7:00”, begging, pleading. These things work sometimes with a singleton. It is all a little more complicated when there is an eagle-eared, sleeping toddler on the other side of a paper-thin wall.
- At every 5:00 a.m. wake up you promise yourself that you will go to bed early that night. Even if you dragged yourself around like a wet blanket all day, you will get an instant second wind the minute everyone is asleep. You stay up way too late, wake at 5:00 the next day and the pattern repeats itself over and over.
- On the day you have a babysitter booked and really, really want your toddler to have a good nap she won’t. She will have trouble getting to sleep. You will need to change her diaper two extra times. The minute she is finally sleeping your preschooler will run up the stairs, yelling, “Momma? Momma? Where ARE you?” and the little one’s eyes will burst open.
- When your youngest is between 12 and 18 months old and (some days) you manage to function somewhat normally, you will sit in the rocking chair, hum Ave Maria and stare at the beautiful, precious child in your arms. That vanilla-cupcake baby smell, the soft hair, velvety-smooth cheeks and tiny baby breaths make it all worthwhile. 🙂
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B got Dogga for Valentine’s Day when he was 14 months old. It was love at first sight. Dogga became B’s “lovey“. Dogga came on the airplane, into the bathroom, to the park, to the beach, to playgroups, in the car and in the stroller. Dogga saw every first and many lasts. I’m a bit of a wild driver and once when B was barely two I had to slam on the brakes. B yelled, “hold on, Dogga!” from the backseat. I’m surprised he doesn’t have his own carseat.
Dogga has the power to heal cuts, dry tears, scare away monsters and cure loneliness. Dogga is magic. Dogga is practically alive.
Once we realized how important Dogga was we started looking for an extra, just in case. Fast forward a few years and now there are six. The original Dogga had his nose chewed off so “went to keep Grandpa’s dog company” on the farm. Now we’ve got Present Dogga (he appeared under the Christmas tree with a red bow), Girl Dog, Daddy Dog, Mad Dog (the way the fur goes over his eyes makes him look mad, according to B), Scottie Dog and Other Dog.
I’ve noticed the dogs are sometimes left behind now. They always come out for morning snuggles and quiet time. They always go outside for trampolining. They come on long car trips. They don’t come to the store anymore. They don’t come to the beach in the bike basket. They didn’t go to daycamp.
A year from now, B will be heading off to full-day kindergarten and the long, crazy days with two tiny ones at home will be over. Now that a change is approaching I understand what the kind grandmas in the grocery store mean when they say, “Treasure the moments. This is the best time in your life.” Even though some days are like a long, uphill (whining, screaming, chaotic) marathon, this time is fleeting. The tough parts fade away and what is left is beautiful.
Sunday. The night I love. Time for quiet. The night my freshly-turned-one-year-old decides to become a toddler.
What was once a soothing, relatively easy bedtime routine suddenly turns on its heel and becomes an all-out sporting event. Flipping and flopping like a slippery fish, Little A does not want to wear a diaper. I finagle her onto her back and somehow slap the sticky tabs on the diaper, lopsided. We cuddle for a few minutes, then I slip her a pink soother and put her favourite My First Dolly right onto her face, the way she likes. I turn on the lullabies and tiptoe out.
Two minutes later I’m back, summoned by calls of “Mah-mah! Mah-mah!” She has flung the soother out of the crib (on purpose) and is joyfully banging her head into the mattress and giggling. As I lift her out to rock her, I sing her favourite “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral” over and over. Her bright blue eyes finally start to waver, closing, closing, almost asleep…then fly open, focused on a tiny speck of light on the ceiling. Her tiny finger points and waves madly at the light. “Ah! Ah!” she yells, willing me to stop rocking and look up at the wonder she has discovered.
I am blessed.