thought mornings would get easier.
And they have . . . for the most part. It really depends on the day — and whether I’ve had at least half a cup of coffee before the first child stirs.
It’s true that everyone in my house is sleeping more, and that makes all the difference. Those up-every-two-hours newborn nights are tough. Our daughter has proven to be a much more reliable sleeper than our older son ever was, and I’m grateful for that. But, with young kids, there are still plenty of restless nights. Still lots of strange sounds that trigger cries at 2 a.m. Plenty of fevers and illnesses and requests for chocolate milk before daylight.
I have to dig deep in those moments. When one or both of them hollers, my husband and I have an unspoken agreement that he will tend to Hadley while I go to Oliver. If Ollie is up, I’m up. If Hadley is up . . . I’m usually up, too, but not because Spencer necessarily needs me to be. We are equal partners, and we try to split the burden of exhaustion as best we can.
Still, of course, I can’t sleep when the noise reaches a certain level. I’m worried. Is someone sick? Teething? Scared? Having nightmares? Freezing cold? Though I’m hot-blooded by nature and my sweaty kids seem to be, too, I’m always concerned they’re somehow chilly in their dark rooms.
Why is that? Becoming a parent seems intrinsically tied to suddenly obsessing about jackets and blankets and socks. I walk around barefoot 99 percent of the time, and prefer a light sweater to a coat. I hate being hot. Yet somehow, where my kids are concerned, I will cover them with flannel in the dead of July to make sure they’re “comfortable.”
I don’t know. Questions without answers.
Hadley is now 18 months old and absolutely her own little person. After a few fits and starts, she began walking last month. She is now free to move about the living room in pursuit of all the toys her brother steals, and follow us into the kitchen to make sure we’re not eating anything good without her. Life-changing for all of us.
I love seeing my daughter’s mischievous smile as she peeks out from beneath the kitchen table, where she and Oliver have created a fort, and the giggles Hadley makes in response to a silly face I didn’t even realize I was making.
What I don’t love? Teething. So much teething.
I remind myself that the last time Oliver was going through a really sleep regression, Hadley herself was a newborn. There were a few dark, hazy months in which Spencer would finally get our daughter down only for Oliver to wake up in tears. This would repeat every few hours, night after night, with only sweet coffee in the morning to offer any respite.
Hadley is growing quickly, and I think that growth spurt — combined with the teething pain — has her unsettled at night again. That means the mornings, already a hotbed of chaos, are doubly rough.
I’ve worked out a pretty good system where I bring Hadley into three-year-old Oliver’s room to help me wake him each day. While she is up early, unsettled and asking to “eat, eat!” while I have one eye open, Ollie now sleeps deeply — and hates when I creep up to get him ready for day care.
Waking kids up isn’t fun for anyone. For starters, it just feels wrong. I’ve spent the majority of the last few years trying to get these small people to close their persistent little eyes, so it’s almost physically painful for me to rouse my tornado son before he’s ready.
And he’s never ready. Foreshadowing the teen years to come, I’m sure, most mornings I’m now met with “leave me alone!” as soon as Hadley and I cross the threshold to his room.
“I can’t,” I say. “I love you too much!”
And he groans and pulls his quilt high above his head, where his sister can’t reach him.
We go on like this for 10 minutes or so. I get Hadley changed and dressed while he burrows deeper under his covers. I’ve tried enticing him out with talk of “toast with butter,” practically its own food group, but the most effective way to get him moving is . . . well, I’m not proud of it, but have to use what I’ve got.
“Ooh, Hadley,” I’ll coo, “isn’t that a nice red truck?”
You’ve never seen a toddler move so quickly.
“Hey! That’s my truck!” Ollie will boom, throwing back his quilt to reveal some serious bedhead. “Mommy, Hadley has my truck!”
“She does. Yep. Hadley, can we give that to your brother? Maybe you should bring it downstairs, Ollie.”
That’s the next phase: deciding which toys need to make the trip downstairs while Hadley fights to get out of my arms. Two independent children we’re raising — or trying to, anyway. Opinionated, certainly. Docile? Never.
By the time I’ve wrestled both of them to their respective classrooms and returned to the van to continue my commute, I could go back to bed.
But ah, responsibilities beckon. And so does my pumpkin spice coffee.