Fingers Crossed! Little Things Seem Big

It continually amazes me how much parenting puts at stake, even in things that seem – objectively – very small.

Our two-month old has been sleeping pretty well, better than we could have expected, so of course we decided it was time to mess with that. We decided last night to try having him sleep in a different place – just eight feet away from his usual spot, and still in his same baby bed. We did the same bedtime routine, and put him down at the same time. So why did this seem like such a big deal? Well, because moving him eight feet meant putting him in his brother’s room. Yep: we’re trying to get 2 under 2 to share at night.

It went better than I feared it would. Smaller Boy woke up around 4, which he hasn’t been doing lately, but I think it was because he got his arm out of his swaddle and was uncomfortable, not because of his brother, who slept like a rock. Bigger Boy even stayed asleep as I let his brother fuss for about 10 minutes to see if he could put himself back down, went in to fetch him, and then brought him back into the room later once he was re-swaddled, where he fussed and soothed himself back to sleep again. I have great hope!

But I was super anxious for that whole 4am wakeup, laying tensed in the darkness as I swept the monitor camera between crying babe and sleeping toddler, just waiting for the (I thought) inevitable whines and cries of two at once. I felt I was being insanely reckless by daring to enter the room at all to collect my younger one when it was clear he wouldn’t self-soothe back to sleep. I was terrified as I brought him back into the room after fixing his blanket, putting all my effort into avoiding the door creak and floor squeaks. All this anxiety even though I was just putting my kid to sleep, same as I do all the time

It seems to me there’s a lot of things in parenting that are like this. Things that on the surface, don’t seem like that big of a deal, things that seem like they should be a natural progression of things, but during which I find myself, in the moment, overly anxious. Literally waiting with baited breath, having to make a conscious decision to relax my shoulders and neck muscles as I endure something that objectively seems pretty trivial.

But the thing is, these little things are never just little. They represent way bigger, more important things. For example, what’s at stake in my boys being able to share a room includes:

  • My husband and I being able to move back upstairs to our old room, where we would have
  • Enough luxurious space to be able to exit the bed on either side, and which would also allow for
  • The downstairs room we currently occupy returning to playroom status, which would be great because then I could have
  • A living room with more space to live in because it’s not largely functioning as toy and baby book storage, not to mention on an emotional scale:
  • A hopeful return to supposed “normalcy,” that unicorn dream of every parent with young kids, as well as
  • Symbolic reassurance that my kids can share and will get along, and
  • A boost of confidence that our family’s moving in the “right” direction, development-wise.

20160418_131433Hmm, when I write it all out, this seems like an unreasonable amount to be riding on whether two people who can’t yet speak in complete sentences or dress themselves both have a comfortable and uninterrupted night’s sleep. So, probably like most things in parenting, I’ll have to adjust my expectations. If I’m committed to having them share a room, I probably have to expect and be okay with some sleepless nights during the transition, and some extra difficulties down the road when they don’t sleep well for numerous, non-development related reasons, like sickness, uncomfortable temperatures, accidents, bad dreams, loud noises, etc.

But maybe it’s helpful in and of itself just to identify what those larger ‘at stake’ things are that I’ve associated with this one small task. Maybe doing so will a) help me to separate out the things that are reasonable to have riding on any given moment from the things that are not, and b) help me to not chide myself for being stressed about something so “little.” It’s likely much bigger than that, after all.

Do you have little things that seem big? How do you handle them? Look forward to hearing from you!

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2 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m afraid this is not a “new parent” phase. We have started the transition period into staying at home alone for periods of time. Suddenly the foods that were deemed healthy and hazard free as snacks I am now seeing as choking hazard, murder weapons when I’m not at home. Every logical bone in my body tells me she will be fine if she eats an apple (she’s never choked on one before) but this is one of those little steps that is stressful in the moment but upon looking back will be utterly laughable.

    Like

    • raiseamother says:

      It can happen with just about anything, I suppose! There’s also the feeling that by deliberately entering a transition, you’re deliberately messing with a good thing, as though if something is working, you should just leave it alone… You know, never leave your kid home alone or just let them sleep in separate rooms forever, even if that means moving houses, lol.
      It’s always a step of courage for even the small things, I guess!

      Like

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