Saturday, February 14, 2009

breathing room

We've had a hard time putting Clark down for sleep--both for bedtime and naps. He doesn't want to give in, give out, and he fights it and squirms and fusses and we sometimes have to go in several times before he calms down. But it's the funniest thing--recently he's started putting himself to sleep. It came all at once, it seems. Now I read him a story and rock him for a moment then put him in his crib. He stands up and holds the rail and jumps up and down and I kiss him and wave and tell him goodnight, then leave the room. Through the monitor I hear him jumping awhile and sometimes he'll cry for about 8 seconds, and then lies down and goes to sleep. It's rather stunning, and I don't know how we got here.

Sometimes I feel like my life is like that; something finally comes together and I think "how did I get here?" What would I have to do to find my way again if I wandered away? For the moment I feel this way about parenting. Finally I'm relaxed. Finally I'm sane. Finally I feel like I know how to handle my kids and fill them up and find a little square of sunlight for myself. Most of it, I'm sure, is that Clark is also--in addition to going to sleep on his own--now sleeping 3 of 4 nights through the night. I had recently been unable to have perspective about this lack of sleep though I suspected the toll it was taking on me. But now! Now my waking hours are much less fraught, much less anxious, much less desperate. I'm able to sit on the floor with my kids all day some days and just play with them without feeling like it's sucking the life out of me. I actually straighten up the kitchen and the toys in the middle of the day instead of waiting until they are in bed to do any kind of maintenance. I still wish I had more emotional space to be creative with them, to organize art projects or different kinds of play, but I don't yet. Hopefully that will come as they get older and even more pockets of time open up for me.

Clark's not walking on his own yet for transportation but he takes some steps now and then. Crawling is still much more efficient for him. But soon he will walk. Soon he'll be a toddler and will pull away from me a bit. I've started him on the bottle for his last feeding before bed and for the one during the night if he wakes, which means we only nurse a few times during the day. Sometimes I want to ween him all together but other times I want to hang onto that contact between us. Soon he'll be busy on his own, will be able to get around by himself rather than have me carry him. Soon he'll be independent in very physical ways and the baby will start to fade. I feel sorrow for this. But I also feel relief for myself and my own independence.

As an only child I really need my time and space to myself or I feel like I'm wilting. M is teaching an evening class this term and I've found I really love it--isn't that funny? I have a sitter come and help me get the kids in bed and then I have this whole evening stretched out before me just for me. Sometimes I take a bath. Sometimes I read. Always I relish it. It's funny that I've gotten to be this old and am still learning things about myself. How can that be?

No comments: