Personal

Sleeplessness, Strength, and a Voice

When Mark came home from the hospital, I was fortunate enough to have a baby who only woke up when he was hungry. We had a set schedule for “meals”. He got the hang of that pretty quick and with little help. I relished in the fact my 6-month-old, who came home from the hospital just two months prior, was sleeping through the night.

My friends… the other shoe has dropped. As I am typing this, it is 5:43am and Mark has gotten out of his bed for the 70th time. Did I mention he knows how to open doors? I’ve been walking him back to bed every time he’s gotten up and honestly, nothing seems to work at this moment in time. He explores the house in the early hours of the morning, after waking me up. I’ve been up since about 4:00am. I cannot help but feel that this is my punishment for the enjoyment I experienced for my infant’s sleeping schedule.

**Funny note: 5:47am, Mark is turning the light on and off in his room. It’s become a rave.**

I’ve read all the parenting books. I’ve read the mom blogs. Every time he’s gotten out of bed and opened his door, I’ve walked him back to bed, nicely, calmly, gently. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose my cool on the 500th time he’s done this in a single night.

My sleeping schedule has been thrown for a loop and I am not sure what to even do about it. I think the real struggle comes into play when I have a bunch of work to catch up on. When I say work, that can mean a number of things, such as: handling hospital bills, running errands, school work, scheduling appointments, working on the blog, or trying to establish a nonprofit. I find myself begging those 9am and 2pm nap days again. The good old days. The cuddly days. The baby snug days.

As Mark continues to grow and learn, I get to watch this personality form right before my eyes. He certainly has an opinion and he loves to share it with you. This is especially true when he disagrees with your decisions. He will test my limits and just about every boundary I set. This is what growth is all about though. I am fortunate enough to notice the growth I’ve experienced in myself during this stage of his life as well. I’ve become more forgiving. I’ve shown myself a tad bit more grace. I’ve become more consistent and unwavering on things I will and will not tolerate. I’ve also put my foot down, hard, on a number of occasions. It amazes me that during one of the most trying times as a parent (and for the child), we’ve experienced growth in the right direction, or at least what I hope is the right direction.

Growth comes from being challenged, learning from the mistakes, and trying again and again and again. Watching Mark encounter every challenge that has stood in his way over the years has been emotionally strenuous for me. I cannot imagine what he thinks or feels every time we step into the hospital for a follow up with his specialists. As a mother, you want to handle everything for them, protect them, guide them, and I do that most of the time. There are some things like medical procedures, surgeries, shots, and developmental tests, that I simply can’t do for him. Maybe this is a great lesson for him later on in life? It is certainly a lesson I am still trying to understand myself.

As for myself, I think I’ve found my voice in motherhood. I’ve found my purpose. I’ve found what I was meant to do, the person I was meant to be. That is a pretty big claim, I know. Trust me, I have goosebumps as I write this because I JUST came to this conclusion. I don’t mean “I was meant to live, have babies, and die.” To clarify, I believe that being Mark’s mom has helped me become the person I was meant to be. Mark has given me a backbone. I am not afraid to go toe to toe with someone if it is in the best interest of my son. Mark has given me a unique and often untold truth. He has given me a voice to share that truth- to share our story. I mentioned he has helped me become more patient, gracious, and better at setting (and sticking to) my boundaries. He has helped me challenge myself because of our unique circumstances.

My mother always said “had I known that feeding you and watering you would make you grow, I would’ve stopped so I could keep you little.” I firmly believe that these years of Mark being little are the most challenging, but the best. I love that he is growing into his own person with his own ideas, strong-will, and little personality (not to mention attitude too). Growth requires challenge. Challenges require strength. Strength requires courage. Courage comes from within.

However, at this precise moment in time, I miss that little 12 pound, 6-month-old cuddle bug that would give me the greatest baby snugs every chance I could take them. Let’s not forget he also stuck to a very nice sleeping schedule and didn’t wake me up at 4:00am by practicing his escape artist abilities.

Send coffee.