13 September 2006

watched eyes never close

this is a story from a few weeks ago:

it was time for cosmo to take a nap. he had been taking quite regular morning and afternoon naps. i had noticed the night before, that if he took his afternoon nap too late, he didn't want to go to sleep around his bedtime. i had noticed two days earlier that if he skipped the afternoon nap altogether, then dinner was impossible, in fact he'd be rather fragile emotionally for the whole evening. so, i was pretty set on getting this afternoon nap in sometime between 2 and 4pm.

there is one thing that i have learned about babies in my brief tenure as a mother. they don't work on YOUR schedule, they work on their own. they aren't trying to be obstinate, they just aren't as predictable as we think they are, and the don't really have a concept of the future (i.e. if i don't nap now, i will be cranky later).

anyway, he was looking tired. we did our usual nursing session 'til he falls asleep, then bring him to his hammock bed, and put him in for the duration of his nap. i tried to lower him into the bed, but he woke up, and started wailing. i tried this a few more times, then he seemed obviously UP, chipper, and not interested in napping at all. it was a bit early, so, i thought we could just try again later. we did. same thing. no luck. so, i thought maybe if we drove to the co-op, he might just fall asleep in the car, which he'll often do if he's tired. he was bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed all the way there. i put him on my back in our new carrier. sometimes he falls asleep there too. nope. well, then, perhaps he would fall asleep on the way to the supermarket, or, IN the store if i left him in his car seat. he has GOT TO be tired, i reasoned. he did not sleep in the car, and when we got to the store, i put his car seat in the shopping cart, and it was tilted so far back, i figured he wouldn't be able to see much, would be relclined, and therefore INclined to drift off to sleep. in the produce section, he was straining his abs to lift his torso up so he could see what was going on. i actually had to laugh. he was working really hard at not falling asleep.

i noticed that i had been getting frustrated, anxious, annoyed. cosmo was not cooperating. he was not doing what i expected him to do, what i thought he NEEDED to do, and there would be consequences. but at that moment, as he was reaching, lurching and careening to catch a peek over the sides of the car seat, he was obviously wide awake, happy and curious; i realized that everything was just fine, and i was stressing myself out for no good reason. cosmo sleeps when he needs to sleep. he does not sleep on command. most people don't. and that's okay.

if i remember correctly, he got cranky and wanted to nap soon after we got home. it was too late for a nap, so we decided to just wake him up after 45 minutes. that worked out just fine. other times, he just skips his afternoon nap, and goes to bed early. it's not a big problem. recently he was sick for a week, with high fevers, and general discomfort. his sleeping schedule was all messed up. but now he's better, and things are returning to the level of routine that is possible with a 10 month old. he generally has two naps each day, he generally eats dinner around 6pm. he generally has bath and story time around 8:30, and goes to bed close to 9pm. not always, but enough to make it a pattern...of sorts, and that's good enough for us.

not long after this i found myself stressing again about night-waking, and night nursing. is it harmful for his development to not know how to put himself back to sleep by now? should he be sleeping through the night? should we be sleep training him? then i reminded myself that the way things are right now is working for me...i get plenty of sleep, feel rested each day, and don't resent the night nursing. he also seems fine, and happy with the current arrangement. he won't be a baby for very long. this precious time in our lives will pass so quickly. there is no need to rush anything, especially if there isn't a problem.

if it ain't broke...

so, for me, one of the great gifts of motherhood is learning to relax; forgetting to stress about all the things i used to think were so important and so pressing. and also, finding ways to calm down now, and accept that this is all going remarkably well. sometimes in spite of me.