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love

If I Cherished Every Moment, I Would Lose My Mind

All three kids have been sick this last week. Nothing too major, just runny noses and coughs all around. So I knew it was just a matter of time.

And sure enough, I woke up this morning with a sore throat. On a Monday morning no less. I picked up my phone out of habit to do my morning scroll through social media, already composing my status update regarding the latest development in our family health saga.

And then something made me pause. And I thought, “Huh. It feels like I’ve been complaining on social media and the blogosphere a lot lately.” The baby still won’t sleep. The toddler hates being sick and won’t let me put her down. The six year old has a lot of really hard complicated questions and also has a lot of feelings to navigate, both of which seem to make their appearance only at bedtime.

And now everyone has been sick and the laundry still isn’t put away from last weekend and it’s Monday morning and we have to start a new week and I’m not ready.

So yeah. It feels like I’ve been complaining a lot lately. Then I started to wonder, “What if the people who read my blogs and status updates think I hate being a parent?”

And I immediately felt guilty. I don’t want to be the one who complains all the time. I don’t want it to seem like I’m not grateful for this amazing motherhood journey. I love being a parent more than anything in the world. What if I’m unintentionally leaving a legacy of whining for my children?

And I felt terrible for a little while as I considered that possibility.

But then I considered the alternative.

Of course I’d love to put nothing but sunshine and roses and inspiration out into my digital corner of the world.

But that wouldn’t be the whole truth. That wouldn’t be parenthood.

Because the whole truth is that, even though I love being a parent more than anything, the hard days are real. And they are hard.

So even though I’m supposed to be cherishing every moment, I’m not.

I’m not because some of the moments suck and I don’t want to cherish them. It’s just that simple. Waiting in the doctor’s office to find out what the mysterious rash is? Sorry, not cherishing that. Barely sleeping all night because stuffy noses are making both the toddler and the baby gag and cough and choke in their sleep? No thank you, not cherishing that either.

And then there are moments that I probably would cherish if I wasn’t so tired from wiping noses and being sick and mentally gearing up for a Monday morning that came a little too soon. I’d love to savor every snuggle, find the joy in them needing me so much, cherish their littleness for every moment of the day. But I’m human and sometimes I miss the moment.

The real problem with cherishing every moment is that my heart just isn’t big enough.

You see, if I really let myself feel how big these little moments are, my heart would break.

If I let myself realize how fleeting this time is. If I consider how fragile and precious these little lives are. If I remind myself what an honor it truly is to be a mother to these humans. If I reflect on what a miracle this life is and what miracles these little bodies are.

If I let myself think about how much I’m going to miss this, how much my heart is going to break when these days of “little” are gone, the time when this phase is over and I know it won’t ever come back.

If I let myself feel, truly feel, how much I love these little people. My heart would break. I would lose my mind trying to slow it all down, take it all in, savor every second. It would be too much.

So instead I cherish some of the moments. I really cherish them. I let myself catch tiny glimpses of the magnitude of motherhood. I let myself be in awe of all this love for the miracle of these little lives.

And the rest of the time I let myself off the hook for missing a moment or worse, intentionally distracting myself to get through the hardest moments.

Because the truth is I can’t cherish them all even if I wanted to. My heart just isn’t big enough.

 

One Hundred Nice Things

The oldest came home from school sad. Some other kids had said things that hurt her feelings.

Y’all, there is so much about parenting that is hard. But knowing someone else hurt your baby in any way, that’s pretty close to the top of the list.

It’s hard because it just plain sucks that you can’t protect them all the time.

But it’s also hard to know how to react when they tell you about it. My first instinct was to try to downplay what they had said. “Maybe they were joking.” “Maybe they were having a bad day.” etc. I thought maybe if she could understand that if someone was mean to her it was about their actions, not anything she had done wrong to deserve it, then it wouldn’t hurt so much.

But then I sounded like I was making excuses for them. And I didn’t want to do that because I also want her to know that there’s no excuse for them being mean to her.

And then I thought about trying to make it better by cheering her up. “You’re amazing and you’re tough and you don’t need to listen to anyone who is mean to you. Period.”

But then it felt like I was trying to talk her out of her feelings. And I didn’t want to do that. Because the truth is, it does suck when people say things that hurt. Feeling sad is normal and it’s a perfectly acceptable feeling. I didn’t want her to feel like there was anything wrong with how she was feeling in this situation.

So instead, I just listened. Mostly because I didn’t know what else to do. But looking back now, I think it might have been the best thing I could have done. I listened and I acknowledged her feelings. “That sucks that someone said that. I’m sorry that happened. I would feel sad too. I wish we had a magic remote to control how other people treated us, too.”

And then I decided that, for every mean thing I heard someone else say to her, I was going to make it a point to say one hundred nice things.

I was going to tell her that I’m happy I get to sit by her at dinner. That I loved how well she was doing with her handwriting. That I was proud of her for tackling her homework right away after school. That I thought the flower she added to her hair was beautiful. That she was an amazing sister. That she made me laugh every day with her quick wit. That I appreciated her help. That her hair smelled nice. That I liked the pajamas she picked after bath.

One hundred nice things, even if they were the simplest of compliments.

Turns out, it’s actually not that hard. Kids are beautifully easy to compliment. They soak up love like a sponge.

I still don’t know what the best way to handle her hurt feelings is. But I do know that I can make sure she hears one hundred times more nice things than mean ones.

And, for now, I can still gather her up in my arms at the end of the day and hold her. And I can hope that showering her in love will make her strong enough to go back out into the world tomorrow with renewed optimism. I can hope that my love will be the voice that stays in her head above any others. I can hope that it makes her resilient enough to not only protect her from unkindness but to prevent her from spreading that unkindness to others, as we sometimes do when someone is unkind to us.

I can’t always protect her, but I can love her with all my might.

Maybe, in a way, that is better.

Need

Today was one of those days where someone needed something All. Day. Long.

The baby needed to be fed.

The baby needed to be changed.

The toddler needed to be changed.

The six year old needed a snack.

The toddler wanted her milk.

The six year old needed her finger nail clipped.

The baby needed to be put to sleep.

The toddler needed the legos down from the shelf.

The six year old needed me to look at the thing she was looking at.

The baby needed to be brought down from her nap.

The six year old needed a box to build a house.

The toddler needed help putting the cap back on the markers after she colored on herself.

The baby needed to be fed.

The baby needed a diaper.

The toddler needed a diaper.

The six year old needed me to make a table for her cardboard house.

The toddler needed to be pulled out of the baby walker where she was stuck for the fourth time this hour because she refuses to listen to the logic that she is too big for it.

The six year old needed me to watch her concert.

The toddler needed lunch.

The toddler needed a nap.

The baby needed to be fed.

The baby needed a diaper.

The baby needed a nap.

The living room needed to have a path cleared through it so the toddler could walk without falling over toys.

The laundry needs to be folded.

The six year old wants to go outside.

The toddler wants to go downstairs.

The baby wants to be held.

What are we going to have for dinner?

When was the last time I ate something?

Did I ever pee or if you wait long enough do you just stop having to go?

All. Day. Long.

Often before I had completed one request, another one was being made.

A steady stream of needing something.

 

Surprisingly, I’m not complaining. I’m exhausted. And I am looking forward to when the husband comes home from work so I can hide in the bathroom for 15 minutes of alone time. But I’m not complaining.

Instead, I’m writing this because, as I look around my trainwrecked living room where at least one toy was broken today because the only pathway through involved stepping on things, I know that the time will come all too soon when there are no toys to pick up. When no one needs anything. When I can read a book and use the bathroom and get a snack for myself whenever I feel like it.

And when that time comes, I’m going to miss this.

Oops

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I’m not always great at keeping my feelings to myself. Even if I try, my face usually gives me away. That, in combination with me sharing pretty openly on this little corner of the Internet, means that it’s not really a secret to anyone that baby #3 was a surprise.

I nursed my oldest for a year. It was a great experience, but needless to say after pregnancy and nursing I was ready to have my body back.

Two weeks after I quit nursing, I found out I was pregnant.

I’m a compulsive planner, so this unexpected news threw me for a loop. I couldn’t wrap my head around having two kids under two. It’s not how I would have planned it. I couldn’t adjust to the idea of how room sharing with three kids in two bedrooms would work. I couldn’t wrap my head around my body not being mine for another two years of my life. I couldn’t wrap my head around starting over with sleepless nights. I couldn’t wrap my head around three carseats, three dressers full of clothes, three kids to shop for at Christmas, three birthday parties to plan each year, three social security numbers to remember.

Okay so you get the idea. I sort of went into a tailspin.

But, somewhat counterintuitive to my control-freak nature, is my belief that things happen for a reason. So here we are.

I love kids and I love being a mom. I may have had a teeny weeny panic moment when the stick turned blue (and for a few months after), but I never doubted that we were exactly where we were meant to be. I loved this little human who turned my world upside down before I even met her. And to be honest, I admired her. She overcame a lot of odds to make her way into this world. You can’t help but respect that kind of determination, especially in such a small package.

September 16, 2016 at 7:13 a.m. we became parents of three, a family of five. And suddenly it was like the piece we hadn’t even realized was missing was finally in place.

In the last twelve weeks since she was born, I’ve wondered more than once if I would regret being open about the fact that she was an “oops”. I never want her to look back on her story and think that she wasn’t wanted. That she wasn’t needed. Sometimes even the most meticulous planners don’t know what they need until they are watching it sleeping peacefully in their arms.

I also hope that when she looks back on the legacy of her life that she knows that, even though she blew up our whole carefully planned little world, I loved her all the more for it.

Maybe it’s because with each child my heart stretches a little further or maybe because the longer I’m a mother the wider my heart opens. Or maybe it’s because this little baby is sweeter than sugar on a sugar cookie.

But every time I look at her sweet little sleeping face, my heart swells so big that I can feel it pushing on the insides of my chest. And every time she looks up at me with her bright little eyes and her face lights up and she smiles, I feel how much I love her rise up in my throat and I literally tear up because it’s more love than can fit in my body.

I literally tear up, y’all. Every time.

My heart was so full of love before she came along that I didn’t know I needed anything else.

And then she appeared and now my heart overflows every day.

Just think what I would have missed out on if I had stopped when my heart was only full.

Raising Littles in a World That Sometimes Sucks a Lot

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I feel things differently than I did before I was a parent.

Before I was a parent, when I saw a tragedy on the news, my primary feeling was discomfort. I felt bad for the people involved. Sad about the situation. But all of my feelings were somehow… muted. Like I was removed from the situation. Which, technically I was.

But after having children, that separation between me and the hard, scary parts of life diminished. Everything felt so much more real, more raw. Like I was driving down the interstate just like I had been my whole life but suddenly I didn’t have a windshield. It takes my breath away and hurts but I have to keep my eyes open because it’s almost scarier not to see where we’re going.

I feel like this a lot lately. This morning in my scroll through the Internet I see news of child fatalities in a school bus crash. I see a video of nurses pulling premature babies from incubators in a smoke-filled room as the last hospital in Aleppo was bombed. I see humans who are standing up for what they believe in being injured by freezing cold water sprayed from high pressure hoses by other humans. I see a group of white nationalists saying things that I literally cannot even wrap my mind around as they celebrated the election of our next president, believing that he will help bring attention to their movement. Meanwhile, said president elect is too busy criticizing members of the Hamilton theater production, staff of the TV show Saturday Night Live, and the media for exercising their freedom of speech to notice all the hate crimes being carried out in his name.

I see people being terrible to each other in the name of their beliefs. People disowning friends and family members over their votes. People being disowned from their friends and family members because of their vote. People dreading Thanksgiving celebrations with their families because we are so torn up about all of it.

I see all of this happening and, even though most of it is not happening directly to me, it sometimes feels like it is.

Perhaps that’s an ignorant thing to say. I mean, obviously there are people who are significantly more affected by all of this than I am, so it feels almost presumptuous to feel anything.

But then I think, maybe that’s how it should be. As hard as it all is, I would rather live in a world where we connect with each other in such a way that when one of us hurts, we all bleed. (Maybe our disconnect, our ignorance, our separation is part of the problem.)

Something about creating a life, witnessing its first moments, nursing it through the tender first years… it changed me. It changed the way I saw humans. Suddenly the kids on that bus were my six year old and her friends. Suddenly one of those preemies in incubators being evacuated was my newborn. Those people being sprayed with gas and freezing water were my friends. My tribe.

It sucks that all these things and more are happening all around us. It sucks that it hurts and it’s hard on so many levels. I don’t even know how to begin to go about raising a child who is prepared to feel all of this. Because honestly, I don’t know how to begin to go about feeling all of this.

And what’s more, I don’t know what to do about any of it. What could I possibly do that would matter? And yet how can I stand by and do nothing?

I don’t know the answer. I speak up and then I overthink what I said and I worry, but then I convince myself that it’s better than saying nothing. I read books and I read other perspectives and I read things that make me uncomfortable and I try to be just a little less ignorant. I research government and I work up the nerve to call my state representatives even though it’s completely outside of my comfort zone.

And I snuggle my babies and I plan ways for us to give to those in need as a family this year because the world needs it more than ever. And I read them books about people of different races and different cultures and we talk about loving each other and we keep a gratitude journal.

And it still feels like so little in the face of so much. But I don’t know what else to do.

So for now I just do the little things I can. And I scroll through the news full of so much fear and heartbreak and the best I can do is to let it hurt. To let it scare me enough, let it break my heart enough to make me want to do more.

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Here’s What I’m Telling My Daughter About the Election

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Dear Daughter,

Last night our country elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.

It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for.

You see, throughout his lifetime and his campaign, Mr. Trump has said things that I found offensive about women, minorities, people with different religious beliefs, and people with disabilities. Mrs. Clinton, while not a perfect candidate herself, had significantly more experience and has spent her life in public service. And to be entirely honest, I wanted to be able to share the moment that a woman finally became president with you.

But at the end of the day, my vote didn’t come down to politics for me. I have friends with all different colors of skin, friends with all different religious beliefs, and friends of various sexual orientations. To me, they aren’t just members of a group, they are human beings. Throughout this election season, I saw these human beings experience fear, confusion, and hurt at the idea of a leader who didn’t respect them or represent them. I saw them experience fear, confusion, and hurt at the idea of being surrounded by their fellow citizens who would choose to elect someone like that.

I saw their fear and I couldn’t imagine standing in their shoes. I couldn’t imagine having to raise children in their shoes.

So I exercised my right to vote.

And I truly believed in my heart that, as a country, we wouldn’t elect a president that only respected a small percentage of our diverse population as a country.

And when we did, I felt deeply heartbroken. Deeply confused. Deeply sad.

This election tells me that, when it comes to taking care of each other, respecting each other, appreciating each other, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.

I wish that I could give you better than that. I wish that I could give you a place full of people that love and respect each other despite all their differences. A place that lifts up those that need it the most.

But we aren’t there yet.

So instead I’m going to tell you a story about a caterpillar.

At some point in a caterpillar’s life, it spins itself a cocoon and huddles down deep inside. It does this not out of a conscious choice but rather a deep instinct. Once inside this cocoon, a tiny cell in the caterpillar’s body begins to change.

And the caterpillar’s body fights against it, pushing back against that change.

And then, in response to the resistance, the tiny cell grows and pushes harder.

And again, the caterpillar’s own body fights it back.

This push and pull continues until the caterpillar is essentially destroyed, broken down to something shapeless and unrecognizable.

From that chaos, a butterfly is born.

You may be tempted to credit that tiny cell that started the change. But in reality, it is the resistance it faced that made it strong enough to succeed. It is the resistance, the fight, that tore down the old so that the new could be born.

It’s true that I am deeply dissatisfied with what this election suggests about our priorities as a country. But somewhere at the bottom of this heartbreak, I can feel a tiny ember of hope burning. A hope that this resistance will not be for nothing. I have been searching all morning for the words to give voice to this hope.

But I still don’t know what to say.

What I do know, however, is this:

It is hard to fight against something you cannot see. Some of us were more aware of the undertones of hatred and intolerance in our country than others. But there is no denying it now. This experience has illuminated the darkest corners of this issue and, although painful to look at, realizing the extent of this problem is the first step to addressing it.screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-1-52-30-pm

And address it we will. We know we have work to do. While it is disheartening to realize we haven’t come as far as we thought we had, where there is great despair, there is great love. I choose to believe that our sadness, our confusion, our heartbreak will open us up to a greater capacity for love and inspire in us a deeper and more powerful drive to do as much good as we possibly can. I want to give you a world where we all agree that it’s never okay to treat someone with anything less than respect. Period.

The good news is, we don’t have to rely on a president to create that kind of country. It’s up to us to do so. Together.

So even though we may not have seen the outcome we wanted, sometimes it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about finding your people. In the midst of the cold, early morning darkness that followed the counting of the ballots, my greatest hope came from a group of incredible men and women who stood together in that darkness. They were authentic in their grief, and yet they still found the strength in the midst of their sadness to do their best to keep holding each other up.

They were the others, like me, who had seen the fear and confusion in our fellow citizens and voted against the judgement and hate that would affect our neighbors and friends. The beautiful thing about this group of people is that we voted for each other. When I voted in favor of a world that valued love and respect above all else, I did so not just for you but for my friends and their children and their friends and their friends’ children. And in that way, they also did so for me. And for you.

In other words, we are not alone. YOU are not alone. You cannot see it yet, but you are surrounded by this incredible, indestructible, undefeatable tribe of human beings that will never stop trying to make this world a better and more loving place. For you.

This morning I watched this tribe of people, weary and broken, pick themselves up off the floor and go back out into the world to keep fighting.

For you.

This work may be hard and we may be weary, but we will never stop fighting to make this a better place for you. For all of us.

That, my dear and beautiful daughter, is a gift to you, and a gift to me as your mother. That, my dear and beautiful daughter, is what gives me hope that the world you are growing up in, the world you will inherit, though flawed, is ultimately good. It is what gives me hope that love will always win.

So for now, I don’t want you to worry. I want you to play outside in the sunshine and the fall leaves and see only the magic in the world. I want you to savor the last of your Halloween candy and make your Christmas list and complain when I won’t let you stay up late. Your childhood is a privilege, and there are many people fighting to protect that privilege.

And as you grow and begin to shed the armor of your childhood, as you begin to feel the weight and pain that this world sometimes offers, you can take your place among this tribe of people and know that we will be here to walk beside you the whole way.

 

 

Bring Your Own Hula Hoop

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My grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this weekend. It was a beautiful evening at a beautiful winery with live music and good food and family.

Ironically, my favorite part of the whole evening was a woman I never even met.

When the live music kicked in, a pile of brightly decorated hula hoops appeared near the stage, as did a middle-aged woman in a colorful skirt. She gracefully began hula hooping to the music.

To be honest? At first I thought it was a little weird. It’s not very often you see a grown woman hula hooping in the middle of a dance floor in a winery. (Although I haven’t spent much time in wineries in the last 9 months so what do I know.)

But it didn’t take long before my six year old picked up on the invitation and joined her, hula hooping to the music. Pretty soon their was a mini hula hooping party on the dance floor. The crowd cheered and my six year old beamed. It was pretty fun to watch.

My daughter hula hooped for the rest of the evening. We had to tear her away to have dinner and cake, which she scarfed down in order to return to her spinning. At one point she had four (or maybe even five) hula hoops going. She was in heaven, oblivious to everything else (except maybe the crowd who applauded her and the band 😉 ).

As it turns out, the woman in the skirt decorates hula hoops and brings them with her. And then gives them away.

Maybe it’s my hormones or maybe it’s watching the sheer joy on my child’s face, but either way, I think that’s the most beautiful thing in the world.

It’s such a simple thing. And yet, it moved our evening from being beautiful to being magical.

We don’t have to make grand gestures or sweeping influences to change the world. We just have to find what we love and share it. 

When it was time to go, we had one exhausted little hula hooper. I reclined her chair in the van just a little so she could rest on the way home (which was the second most magical part of her evening 🙂 ), and watched in the rearview mirror as she moved her new hula hoop up so she could rest a hand on it as we drove.

“Will there be more days like this?” she asked.

Yes, baby. I hope you have a lifetime full of days like this.

Play From a Parent Perspective

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Last month my parenting book of the month was a book about play. I picked it thinking it would focus on children and play. However, it turned out that the book addressed the impact of play throughout the human life span.

Play, as it turns out, is more than a simple action. It’s an attitude toward life. An attitude that physically changes our brain. An attitude that can lead us to be more resilient. That can help us lead more authentic and fulfilling lives. That can help us create deeper and more fulfilling relationships.

And one of the best ways we can support our children in developing their skill at playing into a lifelong attitude is by modeling it.

So how do we do that?

Mostly, according to the book, it’s about keeping a sense of perspective. For example, grades. Grades, especially in high school when they can affect college scholarships, are important. But they are not ALL IMPORTANT in the scheme of things, you know?

I was ready to learn how to support play for my children. But what does a “play” attitude toward life look like for myself?

Good question. I suppose it means not worrying so much about a little extra mess when the six year old wants to help me cook brownies. Saying yes when she wants to dye her peanut butter with food coloring while packing her lunch. Taking a deep breath when the girls are giggling in bed instead of going right to sleep.

I suppose it means not worrying so much about the toddler hating the doctor’s office. And the high chair. And strangers. Because she’s one, and the chances are she will grow up to be a perfectly pleasant human being.

I suppose it means keeping this whole parenting gig in general in perspective. Remembering what matters and letting go of what doesn’t. Keeping it in perspective. Laughing,

And not only does a play attitude apply to my parenting, but also to my life. I write this blog because I enjoy it. I don’t take it too seriously or put too much pressure on myself to get it exactly right. The same is true of housework, of cooking, of getting involved in a new school group or volunteering in the community.

The idea is that developing this attitude as a parent not only models a more resilient approach to life for my children, but it also opens up the opportunity for me to model passion for them. So that they don’t simply learn the value of perseverance and hard work, but rather they also learn to use those skills to pursue what they love.

“People always say that you can reach the top by ‘keeping your nose to the grindstone’, but as sports performance specialist Chuck Hogan observes, this is not true. People reach the highest level of a discipline because they are driven by love, by fun, by play. ‘The greatest performers performs as they do, and do so with such grace, because they love what they are doing,’ Hogan observes. ‘It is not work. It’s play.’”

 The bottom line? Play can be the key to opening our minds, living more fulfilling lives, being more deeply engaged parents and humans, and teaching our children to do the same. And it’s all driven by authenticity and love, rather than “should’s” and “should nots”.

Do I know exactly how to do this? Nope. Maybe that’s part of the fun.

The Tooth Fairy

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Yesterday I picked up the girl from school and she had lost her first tooth. It’s been loose for a while. She would wiggle it but not pull on it. It made her nervous. I don’t blame her. I was never a fan of things like that.

So right away I asked her how it happened.

“I pulled it!” she said.

“Seriously? That’s awesome! Good for you!”

“Yep,” she replied. “Caleb (the boy who sits next to her in class) pulled his out to show me it didn’t hurt, so I just copied him!”

LOL. If that’s not a good first tooth story I don’t know what is.

Fast forward to bedtime. She was exhausted. Surviving the second day of school, the excitement of losing a tooth, and an impromptu trip to the water park after school to squeeze in one last visit for the season left her pretty much drained. Which is when handling feelings becomes difficult.

She didn’t want the tooth fairy to take her tooth. She wanted to keep it. She was scared the tooth fairy wouldn’t come. What if the tooth fairy is mean? Tears and sadness and getting up for drinks and bathroom breaks. But after a lot of reassurance (and patience), eventually she fell sound asleep.

The tooth fairy brought a two dollar bill rolled up and tied with a gold piece of ribbon. And a lot of glitter. And left the tooth. She was thrilled.

“I can’t believe I lost a tooth!” (Said no less than twenty times before school this morning.)

I love her enthusiasm. Her joy. Her innocent wonder. Her bravery.

I love getting to see these moments in her life. Moments that are so big right now but someday will feel small. Moments that are magic, all thanks to a little ribbon and glitter and a little girl believing in fairies.

I love being her mom.

Irrational Mommy Moment: I DON’T CARE IF I RUIN MY GOOD SLEEPER

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My toddler has been a pretty good sleeper from the beginning. Honestly, I don’t think we ever “sleep trained” her in any way. She was fine if she fell asleep while you held her and then laid her down, and she was fine if you laid her down while she was still awake.

We stuck with the habit of laying her down when she was awake because I am of the general belief that it’s good for kids to be able to fall asleep on their own. So that’s just how it has been since she was little. For every nap and every bedtime, we would lay her down and she would fall asleep. Only occasionally would we have to go back in and lay her down again if she was particularly wound up, but it rarely took more than once.

People often commented on what a good sleeper she was and how amazing it was that I could just lay her down and she would go to sleep. And let me tell you, it is pretty great. Bedtimes are fairly simply when you can do a bath and a bottle and lay the baby down without much fuss. There were phases with my oldest where she wanted to be rocked to sleep or wanted me to lay by her bed until she fell asleep, and that can make for a long bedtime sometimes.

This week, the toddler has been teething and getting over a cold, and our sleep has suffered for it. She has a harder time winding down at bedtime and has needed to be snuggled and re-laid back down several times each evening. A couple of those times I’ve caved and just rocked her to sleep. She used to get squirmy to be put down at bedtime–she likes her routine. But this week she is extra snuggly and seems content to be on my lap for as long as I want to rock her.

The first few times it happened, the little warning light went off in my brain. “Do you really want to get her in the habit of being rocked to sleep every night right before the new baby arrives? How on earth are you going to get three kids to bed if one of them needs to be rocked and another is a newborn who won’t care about what time it is if she needs to eat?” It’s a valid point–as nice as it is to have the extra cuddles this week, it’s also nice to have the simple bedtime routine and it’s nice for her to be able to put herself to sleep, for her benefit and for mine.

But last night as I was cuddling her in the dark, watching her wad her blankie up and tuck it under her chin so that it cradled her face from ear to ear while she rubbed the satin edging and blinked sleepily, I realized something: in that moment, I didn’t give two f$%&@s about a convenient bedtime routine.

I love this crazy, irrational toddler stage–even with it’s challenges and temper tantrums born of frustration. She is so cute and tiny with such a big personality–I could stare at her in awe all day long (and I do). These sweet moments of watching her fall asleep…they are so heartbreakingly fleeting. Pretty soon she will be too big for my lap. And pretty soon she will have a new little sister she has to share my lap with.

Sanity is important. So is her sleep patterns. And with three kids, convenience is also pretty important.

But at the end of the day, snuggles trump all of these things.

So for now, I don’t care about habits. For now, I’m not worrying about what it will be like to add another human to the bedtime mix in a few weeks. For now, the only thing I’m focusing on is soaking in these precious moments.