It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. It is the age of independence, it is the age of “I am so clingy, I’m driving my mother nuts.” In one room sleeps two tired parents, in the other, snores an adorable, yet unwilling-to-sleep-through-the-night toddler. At just around 2:30 every morning, this toddler wakes and shouts “Moommy…Mommy….Mommy….Mooommmmyyy!!!! Mommy where are you?” over and over again. I stumble across the hall in a quest to shut her up calm her, tripping over books and baby dolls in the process. I reach her room, hold her little hand, and rock her and myself back to sleep in minutes.

A few hours later, I wake and have very little recollection as to how I ended up in the other room with my daughter’s leg draped across my stomach. It is early morning, but not quite time to get up and start the day. Thank goodness, because I feel like I am hungover and could use some more sleep. I slowly creep out of my daughter’s lair and tip-toe to my bedroom and go back to the familiar spot next to my peacefully sleeping husband. Sometimes I fall back asleep and sometimes I remain awake thinking about all the things I have to do that day for work, at home, or in life.

The scenario of what I call “ping-ponging” from both rooms has been going on for a couple of months now. Some nights we are lucky and she’ll sleep through the night, or some nights she’s away at my sister’s house so she’s waking her family and I am not there to hear it. Sorry sis 🙂 Yet what drives me bananas is that she used to be a great sleeper! I am hoping this is just a phase. I suspect that she might wake because she is hungry, so I do my best to try to stuff her before she goes to sleep with toast and jam, bananas, or rice, or whatever I can get in her little mouth before sleepy time. Sometimes it works and other times, not so much. So who really knows what wakes this child? If anyone has a clue, I am all ears.

Despite this inconvenience, I cannot help but laugh at the irony of this back and forth dance I do on an almost nightly basis. It totally represents the duality of a mother’s existence. Although we are constantly pulled in many directions, there are two distinct conflicts we go through (or at least I do) on a daily basis: going to the aid of our children vs. tending to our own needs. Of course I could ignore my daughter when she wakes up and go back to sleep, but in this case my instinct to comfort my daughter supercedes my need for sleep every time. Besides, she just gets up and goes to our room and tries to get into our bed anyway. However, there are times I realize my child is a self-absorbed egomaniac (as most toddlers are) and I take the time to make sure my needs come first. For the sake of sanity and self-preservation. It is a delicate balance.

So, the way I look at this is that with each phase and parenting challenge, I am building resiliency. Not just in preparation for the teen years when I will not be able to sleep when my daughter is out on dates or hanging out with friends at a party, but it makes me stronger as a woman. Somehow, I am not even that tired during the day when I am running around at work. I am amazed at the things I can pull off on a daily basis and feel like parenting is some sort of “Life Boot Camp” and I am getting in better shape every day.

 

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