I once heard someone say, “choose love” today. I have to remind myself of this often as a parent. This morning I woke up early like I do every morning with the hope that I will have some me time. Time to myself, doing yoga, meditating, and writing is the way I like to start my day. It doesn’t matter what time of day you choose, I believe every mom needs some time for herself in order to be her best all day. Happy wife happy life so they say.
The toughest moment is when I am lying in bed and I have to choose get up out of my warm bed. I want nothing more than to just curl up next to my husband and sink into the darkness of my warm bed and sleep a few extra minutes. But I just do it—I pull myself out of bed and get moving because I now how wonderful it does feel once I’m up. And it doesn’t matter if its 5am or 7am, that initial pull out of bed is the worst. But when I just get up early, my days are just better.
So right when I’m up early and into my first yoga stretch. I hear the dreaded cry of “Mama.”
Oh I just want some time for me. I’m into my second stretch and I’m hoping she’ll go back to sleep. But the mama cry gets louder. Oh please go to sleep Lucy please. That is the moment when I have to remind myself to choose love. Part of me wants to be mad at Lucy. Why can’t you just give me some time. Just sleep, it’s an hour before you usually wake up. But I choose love and I don’t blame her and instead choose to see the situation differently.
I take a moment to decipher whether her cry is one that she will fuss herself out of. Both my three-year old Calvin and one-year old Lucy my one-year old still wake up from time to time, even though they have both been sleeping through the night for some time. I always give them a couple of moments to go back to sleep on their own—and most of the time they do. But if it doesn’t sound like they going back to sleep, then I go in. More often than not, especially with Calvin, I just touch his back or rub his head. Tell him that, “Mommy is here and everything is okay.” Now that he is three, his imagination is so vivid and he occasionally has dreams that scare him. Sometime he wakes up suddenly and may believe there is something real and scary in his room that is actually just in his head. Some quick assurance that everything is okay is usually all that he needs. He’s usually half-dreaming. Sometimes he is more awake and he’ll ask to lay with him. And sometimes I will for a few minutes. This comforts him too. The extreme for him, is when he is over tired and over stimulated, usually when we are on vacation or have just pushed his limits for a couple of days straight of going to bed late and bad naps and then he has what we have come to call night terrors. That is a whole thing in and of itself. Thankfully for us those are rare.
For Lucy, like its seems to be this morning, it is usually just a pat or two on the back and telling her its time to sleep Lucy. She usually lays back down and goes to sleep. Once her cries get louder, I have to consider the dreaded situation of her waking up Calvin too. That is when I know I need to go in. When they are both up and both need mom, that is hard. So as much as I just want to continue my yoga, I stand up and head to her room. I am so annoyed at her. I can’t get out of my head wishing she would just go to sleep so I can have some time for me. But once I am in there and pick her up as I see she is standing in her crib, inconsolable with her arms reached out to me. I lift her up hold her and she immediately calms once she is in my arms. In that moment, when you feel her vulnerability and frustration, and feel her immediate calm once I hold her, its hard not to choose love. I hold her and rock her for a bit realizing that leaving her in the crib with just a couple pats isn’t going to work now. This is a different cry, she needs more from me.
After a little while holding her, she seems calmed. I see her breathing has turned rhythmic again so I put her back into her crib. I turn around and quietly and head toward the door when I hear it again, her cry. “Oh, not again.” So many times I find myself saying in my head the title of that hilarious book, “just go the f to sleep please.” I can tell from her cry, it is not the final defeat cry right before she sacks out. This is a cry for the long-haul. She isn’t going to relax unless I go get her. Most of the time a simple pat on the back or minute or two of rocking works, she’ll go back to sleep. This morning, however, after a few more attempts I realize she is not going back to sleep. It is 4:45, she usually sleeps another hour, but she is up for the day.
It kills me sometime. I just want my me-time. This is when I “choose love” instead.
I could let this ruin my day because its not how I wanted to start my day. I wanted my time for me. But instead I sit and hold Lucy for a while and express gratitude for her. I think about how wonderful she feels, how she makes me laugh as she looks at me and tries to touch my eyes and my nose. I feel her little body breathing in and out on my chest. I feel how loving and sweet and happy she is to just be in my arms looking at me.
I just go with it. I let go of the vision I had for this morning. The vision of time for me, a long shower, some writing. I just let it go.
Every day, actually most days, do not go as planned once you have children. I realize now they simply do not operate by the same plan as me. They are not me. So I just have to go with it and when I go with it and consciously choose love, the days go so much better. They go beautifully actually. I am present and I am giving my children love, and that is what they need more than anything. So in those toughest moments when you want to just be mad at your little one, ore resentful, or angry. Choose love instead and you will be happier and so will your child.