a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It is nice to be needed. Now go to bed.

The past few days Evie's been adjusting her schedule once again. She's been taking frequent but short naps during the day--maybe three, each only about 30 minutes long. She wakes from them still tired, but wanting to get up. Her appetite has increased and she's exploring new ways of climbing on things; just today she discovered how to step up backwards onto an 6 inch elevated surface while holding the side of her toy basket for balance support. She is so pleased with herself, I'm torn between sharing in her joy and wanting to bang my head against a door in frustration at the increasing number of ways she's finding to fall off of things.

For months now I've been enjoying a very privileged existence where Evie will nurse herself to sleep and then I simply lower her into the crib where she stretches out like a little lamb and is out like a light without another peep (please, don't hate me). I know how lucky this is. I am thankful for it EVERY NIGHT. The past few nights, however, she's nursed to sleep, but woken immediately upon meeting the surface of the mattress. She startles awake as if I've just thrown ice water on her, and is horrified at the fact that she's no longer in my arms. When she was a newborn if this sort of thing happened, you were, well...pretty much screwed. Now however, I've found that as long as I keep her lying down (sometimes easier said than done these days), I've got a chance at getting her to sleep.

As I stood there in the dark the other night, bent over double to reach her over the side of the crib, gently stroking her back and humming softly, it came to me that I've finally and fully arrived at a phase of motherhood which I have long been awaiting. Before I became a mother, I had this notion that the baby would immediately be calmed by the sight of me, by my sheer presence or the sound of my voice. I was in for a rude shock when Evie first arrived and my beautiful squalling little worm-baby could not be consoled by anything but a mouthful of boob. Now, many months ago Evie left behind her no-eye-contact, inconsolable phase and has gradually come to count on me for comfort in all the ways I had once imagined. For some reason, though, it hit home the other night as it had never done before.

There she was, sleepy, but not asleep, aware of my presence--needing my presence to feel safe and warm and fall asleep. I stroked her back and she lazily plopped her foot over and over again into the mattress. I quietly sang to her and she grasped my finger in her still tiny hand. After ten minutes of this, I (maybe more accurately my back) was painfully aware that she's not the only one getting older in the coming week, yet I also had a warm fuzzy feeling that came from the knowledge that I was able to be for her exactly what she needed me to be. She's getting older and won't always need me to help her fall asleep, but in the meantime, I'm here.


Write Softly said...

I'm a little misty -- you described exactly how I feel about boy's sleep thing, and how he needs me to help him fall asleep. Thank you for understanding it, for GETTING it, for writing about it, for sharing it.

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