Transitions! Transitions…

My husband woke with a start at 1 a.m.  Hence I woke with a start at 1 a.m., to find that Babyman was standing about two inches from my husband’s face, barely whispering, “Daddy?”, like some tow-headed, munchkin-sized apparition.  Both of our hearts racing (but me being too pregnant and groggy to respond coherently to the situation) my husband got out of bed and quietly walked Babyman back to his room, where he snuggled in without protest and immediately went back to sleep.

We have transitioned to the Big Boy Bed.

This is actually our second attempt: Big Boy Bed, Redux.  The first attempt was entered into with blind enthusiasm for our growing boy, excitement about the blue-and-white Marimekko-esque car-pattern sheets, and complete faith that Babyman would do what he always does, which is sing a bit then drift off to sleep, albeit in a new piece of furniture.  We were unprepared for the three-plus hours of “jack-in-the-box syndrome”: the sound of the bedroom door clicking open, Babyman’s increasingly manic flush as he tiptoed down the hall to visit us, his clandestine forays into our room to jump on our bed and rummage through piles of loose change, his careful exploration of his own closets and sampling of the odd cereal bar and stick of gum and Chapstik that someone (Mommy) had left in the pockets of her diaper bag.  “I know you keep M&Ms in your bag, Mommy,” he admonished me the next morning.  My chocolate addiction, further exposed.

The fact that I am in an abusive relationship with Dr. Marc Weissbluth of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child did not help matters: I learned upon my first reading of Weissbluth’s tome nearly three years ago that his methods a) do not work on my son, and b) make me feel like a horrible mother and generally hopeless case. Thus I swore off parenting books forever, which had the unintended consequence that Healthy Sleep is now the only parenting book I own, and when times are desperate I catch myself reaching for it…maybe, just maybe, this time it will be different…But of course it never is.

Here is the only consistently good parenting advice I can offer: Take a deep breath, be honest with yourself, and adapt.  Big Boy Bed, Redux required a week back in the crib, for Babyman to get caught up on sleep and for Mommy and Daddy to come up with some kind of Game Plan.  The books and blogs advise parents to remain emotionless, to be consistent, non-judgemental, and careful about creating new patterns of dependency — all easier read than done as we feverishly debated (in whispers, so as not to disturb the fragile post-bedtime peace) whether it was worth just staying back there, just this once, rubbing Babyman’s back until he was fast asleep.

Approximately one month later, Big Boy Bed, Redux is going remarkably well.  My husband and I took the seemingly draconian but ultimately merciful step of baby-locking Babyman in his room at bedtime.  He fiddles with the lock for about 10 minutes but does not cry, and then gives up, tucks himself back in, and goes to sleep.  We undo the lock and crack his door when we go to bed so that he can come find us in the night if he needs us…which apparently he does, given the 1 a.m. visit.

Unlike Babyman’s parents, the lock is emotionless, consistent, and non-judgmental.  It does not start to lose it because it is hungry and exhausted and feels a stress-induced Braxton-Hicks contraction coming on, and it does not fold and proffer backrubs and lullabies after 90 minutes of tough love.

You have to do what works for you.  And then forgive yourself.  And then throw away the Weissbluth, for heaven’s sake.

Leave a Comment