This post is late. She is already into the fourth week of her 22-month, five weeks shy of 2-year old. I have been looking at this photo of her for the past 2 weeks. In this photo she has a very bright and beautiful smile, but that's not the real reason. The real reason is, from this photo, I can't find any trace of babyhood on her face anymore, I have a big girl in front of me, and it makes my heart ache a bit every time I think about it.
How fast she has grown!
The growing-up process is not as rosy as the photo shows though, especially for the last month. Elaine from Sweet Sophia has shared her recent struggle with Sophia during bedtime, quite coincidentally, my 22-month old is giving me new headache too.
It all started with us though. She has been falling asleep on her own cot at 8:30pm every day since she was a baby. But recently, due to the hot weather, she sweated a lot and was not sleeping very well. She asked to fall asleep on our bed and we gave in, hoping she would fall asleep better.
It was totally a mistake. It worked on the first few days and then out of a sudden she realized her new found freedom - she could come down from our bed easily and come out of the room if she didn't want to sleep. We had to send her back to bed a few more times. Following which she would scream and cry and demand us to lie down with her. We each did it for a few nights and it was both frustrating and tiring. So we decided once and for all we were going to train her back to sleep on her own again. Of course she screamed like hell when we put her down to her own cot the first night, she cried hysterically round after round as if we were dumping her forever, it was so painful for me but I told myself to be tough and decisive this time, however, after 10 minutes my heart gave in and I went into the room and promised to lie down on the floor till she fell asleep, she calmed down quickly and soon fell into sleep.
So for a few nights, I lied down on the floor till she was about to doze off and then wiggled my body out like an earthworm, as a result our bedroom floor is at least five times shinier than before.
It was still tiring especially when one of us was not at home, which happens at least once a week, because there are other housework to do after she sleeps. What's more than the tiring part is the frustration. We were frustrated more at ourselves than at her. We knew well she is capable of sleeping on her own, but due to our inconsistency we had caused this bad habit in her and now we don't have the courage to correct and re-train her - for it requires seeing her crying into sleep and doing nothing.
To cut the story short, after this drama went on for one week Daddy made up his mind that we were going back to basics - to train her to sleep on her own again. No more lying down on the floor! We pray and we say goodnight and we leave her in the room, even if she cries.
So it started a few days back. It really hurt me to see Kah Yen crying and clinching to me so desperately the moment I finished praying for her, in fact before I could say "Amen" she already jumped up and grabbed my arms, but I had to remove her hands and put her down, and walk out of the room the fastest I can.
The first night, she cried and screamed for as long as 15 minutes before she was finally exhausted and sobbed into sleep. I was standing right outside the door the whole time but I did not go in.
The second night, she cried for about 5-7 minutes.
The third night, she cried for 2 minutes then stopped. It stopped so fast I was actually a bit worried something was wrong, but I resisted going in.
Tonight was the fourth night, Daddy was not at home but I was determined to do it even on my own. I put her down, same thing happened, but after I came out of the room, she stopped crying almost within a minute. Even I was surprised at the progress.
I know that tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, she will probably still cry when I put her down, but I am going to continue doing it till she sleeps contently on her own again. How I miss the times when she happily says "Amen!" after my prayer, when she gives me her goodnight kiss generously, and before I close the door and come out she would shout another "Goodnight Mommy!". How I miss those times! To tell you that I am doing this without being emotional is a lie. I often feel guilty that I am too harsh on her, after all she is very well behaved throughout the day. I also worry if this is purely behavioral, or there is some real fear or insecurity in her that she is not able to express. All I can do is keep praying for her.
This entire episode made me ponder a lot these days. Parenting is really a huge responsibility. It requires much consistency, diligence, courage and conviction to train up our children the way they should go. And we often fall short of the standard because we are not perfect parents. But it definitely worths the effort because it is one of the most rewarding experiences we can ever have. Children are a blessing, a delight, a reward and a heritage.