The End of an Era

Joey has a tooth. I could feel it a few days before I could see it, which made me seem a bit mad when talking to other people (“It’s there, I know it!”). Now I can feel a second little ridge, which is faintly terrifying. Goodbye, gummy smiles. . . .

We’re in central Illinois at the moment; our frantic-feeling schedule of travel slows significantly after this week, but this week is a chance to see Joey’s godparents and a—I’m not sure what to call her—a courtesy aunt? Is that what they’re called? At any rate, a friend who is close enough that Joey will call her Tante Hazel. We cut his hair for the first time—it had started to look a bit like a comb-over up top. And overall we’re just enjoying the heat and the company. Stumptown has been remarkably wet and cool over the last few months, a result (your narrator assumes) of global weirding. Illinois is exactly as hot as late June ought to be.

His sleep has changed a lot—for the better. After the trip to Connecticut, which was several days of sleep catastrophe (oh, and there was a wedding in there somewhere), I decided to go with Mr. Book’s recommendation; put Joey down by himself to sleep. We now have a routine that involves nursing, a musical seahorse, and some cuddling, and he’s sleeping eighteen hours a day. He sleeps twelve hours at night and takes three naps during the day—after I leave the room, there is usually a couple of minutes of complaining—and then rock solid sleep. It is completely amazing. He still sleeps in our bed, and I just join him at night after he’s been alone there for several hours. Our bed is not on a frame, so it’s a short drop onto carpet if and when he decides to go seriously exploring, but so far he’s shown no inclination to leave the bed; this despite the fact that he rolls cheerfully across the room under other circumstances. I’m counting my blessings and keeping an eye out. I do feel guilty about putting him to bed by himself, but he seems to be thriving.

After writing that paragraph, I had the worst night yet of putting Joey to bed; I went back in once, patted his back and talked to him; I went in a second time, gave him some baby Tylenol, patted his back, talked to him; and then I went in a few minutes later, hearing that he was only growing more upset, and brought him out to join the grownups for dinner. And then, when I finally took him back to bed, he went peacefully—he cooed at me when I left. My mother would say that Joey successfully manipulated me into picking him up, but I just don’t buy it. Mr. Book says that he needs to learn to sleep on his own, but I want part of that to be learning that I will always be there if he needs me, and that what he feels is important. My mother keeps expressing the concern that I will be pushed around by my kids—I know that she sees parenting as a power struggle—and Lord knows that there will probably be some power struggles along the way. I know what toddlers are like. But I don’t want to think of our relationship as defined by that. Bed at 7 p.m. sharp is less important to me than the squishy stuff: you know, love.


7 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. you know, you can’t listen to other people’s views about things like sleep (like feeding and discipline, etc). everybody’s views and experience varies. you just do what you feel is right for you, and it’s always going to be a work in progress.

    teething changed everything for us, sleepwise. everything got harder. but I never let her ‘cry it out’ and always responded — except for a very few nights at about 12-13 months when she was simply inconsolable and didn’t even want to be held (it was the time of many transitions: 2 naps to 1, sleeping through the night, no night feedings, and just about to start walking, and major teeth — that was a tough month!).

    • It bothers me that I don’t know what I’m doing—it makes it hard to ignore any idea that isn’t obviously bananas. Maybe I’ll acquire some confidence at a future date. For right now, I’m trying to just make sure I’m mostly listening to Joey.

      • If you’re listening to Joey and you’re listening to yourself, you’re listening to the right people.

        Both my kids’ sleep went to hell when they were teething or growth spurting or developmental growth spurting.

  2. Even though DS is now 3 1/2 I’m still regularly reminded that we can make plans and set routines, but every so often, our little people will just decide that they’re going to do it their way. (Like we recently decided to drop naptime – today he put himself down for a nap even though I told him he didn’t need to.) Believe me, I’m suggesting you do as I say not as I do, but I’d try and go with the flow. I’m terrible at it, but I’m trying to get better! Personally, i just end up getting stressed if I try and ‘make’ him do what he’s ‘supposed’ to be doing. (Oh, and I missed the gummy grins, too 😦 although toothy grins become their own cuteness)

  3. You will *swoon* over the one pearly little tooth. Just as years from now, the toothless top of mouth will be the most delicious look ever.

    Teething wrecks sleep. I think that’s a known fact.

    You sound utterly happy with your boy–go with it.

  4. Sounds like what you’re doing is working perfectly well. And I agree with the others – teething does wreck sleep. Don’t second guess yourself and just follow your instincts.

  5. Aww, yay for Joey’s first tooth and haircut! That’s awesome that you guys got to visit Joey’s godparents in IL and that you’ve been soaking in some summer sun. It sounds like more sleep is on the horizon and I think you’re doing an awesome job with nurturing the little snerks.

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