Oh good. It’s 3 a.m. I think that he may have slept for 2 straight hours this time. Maybe if I lie here as still as my husband in his deep, undisturbed sleep I will not have to get up. I should have about two hours of night left before I have to be awake for the day. It looks like I will be spending those two hours dozing in the La-Z-Boy in my son’s nursery. I will get up on the count of three before his screams get any louder…1…2…3….
My baby does not sleep. I am not being melodramatic. My son literally does not sleep. He hates naps. He hates nighttime. He hates being rocked. He hates his crib. On the rare occurrence that the idea of sleep enters his 8-month old mind, he will fight it and fight it until he wins. He always wins. Sleep NEVER wins. I think he is going to be a boxer. A successful one. Oh goodie. I am entirely convinced that minions occupy my son’s crib, we will call them cribions, making it impossible for my son to fall asleep. Perhaps they look something like Santa’s elves and do something like build toys in the middle of the night which consequently causes my child to scream louder than the pounds of their hammers. Perhaps they simply act as his friends, so he must wake up in the darkest of hours to visit with them, then when they fall asleep, he gets bored and consequently screams for me to keep him company.
His pediatrician has been kind enough to call him precocious. If you ask Webster, precocious means “unusually advanced or mature in development, especially mental development.” Isn’t that nice of her to say about my little baby genius? Although, I know what she really means. I know what is underneath that somewhat patronizing smile of hers. She is saying, “Oh you poor dear!” I get that smile pretty frequently from mothers of various backgrounds. It is a smile that says, “Well, he is certainly going to keep you busy.” Or she may be saying, “I don’t envy you one bit.” Or even worse, “I wonder how tired you will be once he is a toddler.” Precocious. A compliment shrouded in ominous mystery.
I have tried just about everything to get him to close his eyes, aside from tying my hands behind my back, standing on my head, while simultaneously doing air jumping jacks, but if that would work, I would do it. I have spent the night with him in his crib while I sleep and he tugs on my hair, ears, eyebrows, eyelids, and lips. I have listened to his shrieks for hours while my husband and I attempt to accomplish the dreaded ferberizing, also known as sleep training. I have strapped him in his car seat and driven around the block roughly 6,208 times. I have set him in the middle of the living room with every toy in our house and let him play. I have turned on the TV hoping it would hypnotize him to sleep. I have cuddled with him in my own bed. I have stripped him down and wrapped him in the softest of blankets. I have tried tough love. I have tried soft love. I have tried this. I have tried that. I have tried everything, and now I sound like Dr. Seuss.
The result: my son does not sleep.
There are moments when it is funny. There are moments when his complete, unwavering commitment to hating sleep is downright hilarious. When my husband and I look at each other and simply smile because we can’t wait to see what he will try next. There are also moments when I feel like I have fallen right off the sane wagon and plunged headfirst into crazy loon mom. I can see in my husband’s eyes how terrified he is that someday I will not find my way back from the pure, unadulterated and unhinged animal that I morphed into the night before.
I know that I am not alone, but I also know that in the loneliest hours of the night when my husband is sleeping so soundly he may as well be on another planet, I become entirely convinced that my baby is the only 8-month old who still screams on a nightly basis, similar to how I would if I were to be chased around by a clown holding cilantro (I hate clowns… and cilantro). I have prayed a lot of prayers in my day, but my desperate and heartfelt entreaties to God to just let my kid go back to sleep have no doubt become a bit repetitive.
In my small, human mind, it appears as though God never answers these prayers. My son always keeps screaming. It is usually during my 27th prayer of the night that I imagine God looking down on me with some Joker-type smile as he rubs his hands together and laughs like a hyena. He just never seems to hear me, so I never seem to sleep. However, on the night that I am fraying at every end, on the night that I can’t take one more second of my screaming son, God answers. He does not stop the screaming, but he provides me with a moment of clarity, a moment of peace. He reminds me that my son belongs to Him. Because of my precocious little boy, I never get to cuddle him. He is way too busy to bother with cuddles. Except, in the middle of the night, when all he wants is his mom to be awake with him, the cuddles are the best of the best. They are so good that when he does finally fall asleep, I have to force myself to do the same, because I would much rather stare into the face of the beautiful baby that God is giving me the opportunity to raise. This is when I can hear the whisper of my Lord and He is saying, “Tara, enjoy my gift.” That is His answer to my 27th prayer.