‘Til Sleep Do Us Part

I’ve vaguely (and not so vaguely) alluded to this in other posts, but I’m trying to work my way back into writing regularly, and the first step seems to be coming clean about why there was such a long drought in the first place. In a word–Gabbie.

If you’ve been following this meandering pile of nothing since her entrance over four years ago, you’ll know that she’s never been the easiest of children.  She’s never slept that well, she’s always been a picky eater, and she’s generally prone to whining in a way her sisters just…wasn’t.  However, about a year ago, we really thought the crappy sleep thing was behind us.  For about six to nine months, she’d been going to bed fairly easily, and she’d (for the most part) been staying in her own bed all night.  She’d occasionally crawl in bed with us, but a lot of kids do that.  No, we thought, we’re finally moving in the right direction.

WRONG.

So, so, so very, very wrong.  Beginning around the middle of May of this past spring, all of that stopped.  Like, ground to a lurching, neck snapping halt.  Complete record-scratch.  Suddenly, she would not go to be by herself.  She would not stay in her own bed by herself.  She was waking up two to three times a night, every night, either coming into our bed or insisting that someone sleep in hers.  It was, in fact, like having a newborn again, except that this time, our newborn was FOUR, and we were not having it.

Don't let the cute fool you.  She's terrifying.

Don’t let the cute fool you. She’s terrifying.

This…is still happening.  Sigh.  Yep.  Much as I was when she was an infant, I’m dreading bedtime again.  It’s such a project to get her to go to sleep every night, and then, even when you do get her down, you know that, come 2 or 3 a.m., she’s going to show up beside your bed, standing there silently like some freaking child of the corn until you let her crawl in with you.  It is RUINING us, you guys.  Absolutely, completely wrecking our family.  First, Jon and I aren’t getting enough sleep, and neither of us does well with this.  Jon just stops doing things he’s supposed to do.  I continue doing all of the things, but I get increasingly irritable about it, and I become quite (read VERY) resentful of everyone else.  Second, we’re both very short-tempered (because frustrated and no sleep), and this makes us crappy parents.  Parent with no sleep tend to make snap judgments.  They tend to make rash decisions.  They tend to yell a lot and possibly hand out punishments that may not be warranted by the situation.  And then they just give up and say things like, “I don’t care.  Just go downstairs and watch tv.”  This is just to get some peace, but it’s hella confusing for kids.  Grouchy parents and no stable system of discipline–that the recipe for the perfect family dynamic!

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It’s adorable, but the only reason I was able to TAKE this pic was because there was a thunderstorm, and I was being forced to sleep with BOTH of them. I made Jon bring me wine in bed. My four-year-old’s bed.

Third, it’s definitely taking a toll on our marriage.  I’m not even a little ashamed to admit this, and Future Gabbie, this isn’t to make you feel bad.  This post isn’t really about you or for you.  It’s about how one little thing can topple the whole castle (our family is like Jenga in this scenario), and it’s written for everyone else who’s ever been through this.  We have NO time to ourselves.  Usually, 9 p.m. would find us curled up in the living room, watching a TV show we both enjoy, possibly sharing some wine and snacks, rehashing our days or talking through upcoming events.  Now?  One of us is usually still sitting in the hallway outside Gabbie’s room, waiting for her to stop checking to see if we’re still there and just go the f’ to sleep.  Or one of us is so tired from being up with her the night before that we’re already asleep on the couch.  Even if we are both downstairs, we’re just not that much fun to be around right now–either of us. We’re TIRED, dammit.  We’re grumpy, and we’re miserable, and we’re out of ideas, and we just want things to go back to the way they were, and so help me god if one more person asks me to do one more single thing, I will fucking lose it in the most spectacular was imaginable.  But sure, let’s hang out!

So, this, dearests, is why I haven’t been writing much.  I have no time, no patience, and nothing to say aside from “Please sleep tonight.  Please.”  And she won’t.  She promises every night that she will, and then she just…doesn’t.*  We are, simply put,  making it through.  Because this is a phase.  A long-lasting, really entrenched, phase.  This is basically the Secret deodorant of phases.  But it is a phase, and she will outgrow it.  She won’t go to high school sleeping in our bed**, but for the time being, our castle is fragile, and we’re all a little broken.  The king and queen are just…coping.  Because for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, for tyrannical preschooler or…well, there is no other kind of preschooler is there?  Not really.  Rest well, my friends.  Someone might as well.

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He’s faking, but this isn’t far off, snatching sleep when and where we can, even if it’s at a vineyard…

*If you want to remain on my good side in any way shape or form, you will refrain, REFRAIN!, from giving us any suggestions or advice.  I’m not kidding.  Offer unsolicited advice, and I most likely will not speak to you for quite some time.  We have tried everything.  Bribery, punishments, rewards, consequences, rearranging her room, new lightlights, leaving the door open, leaving the hallway light on, music, audiobooks, new toys, new stuffed animals, letting her look at books until she falls asleep (10:30 p.m., that one!), benedryl…  Short of locking her in her room, which I am not going to do, or getting bunkbeds and letting Maddie sleep in her room, which Jon will not do, we’ve tried it all.  Just don’t.  I don’t want to hear it.  We’ve gotten advice–well-meant, but still–from every corner, and I just cannot.  I’m not asking for advice.  I can read the internet just as well as you can.

**No, won’t happen.  Because by middle school I will not be above peer-shaming her to get her to stop, if that’s what it takes.