Everyone who knows me knows I'm adamantly against sleep training in tiny babies, as their cries for comfort and their mother indicate a real need, not just a desire. But when you have a toddler, the desire to continue playing and running around takes the form of bedtime yelling. I can't call it crying because, well, it's an actual yell. No real tears. Just yelling nonstop at the top of her lungs because she's mad she can't keep playing. Then when she realizes I'm not caving in, it becomes an emotional meltdown.
The first night it was sad. The second night, I could barely keep from laughing because, as much as I love her and don't want her upset, it was funny.
And now, 4 days into it, I have a baby who will sort of soothe herself to sleep. Praise the Lord.
The downside of no longer nursing her to sleep is that I'm missing out on valuable snuggle time with S. She will cuddle for a minute here and there throughout the day, but she's just so busy she doesn't want to stop for loves. When I get her interested in a book she will let me wrap my arms around her and squeeze, but she's too fidgety to just sit and cuddle.
So I'm learning how to bond with her in new ways: Playing baby doll and mommy with her, when I show her how to gently hold her baby and pat its back. Reading a story along with arm movements. Singing and dancing. Pushing her on her little train or pulling her in her wagon. Pointing to each of the animals at The Farm and telling her all about them. Chasing her around the living room as she runs her wild, wobbly toddler-trot, silly grin plastered across her face, squealing in delight, and arms flailing all around.
She is wild. She's like a wild horse exploring a new hillside. Or a vast and high river roaring and fanning out into a million little streams. She's going a thousand miles per hour, and I can barely keep up, but I have to because I don't want to miss one single second. Raising her is my biggest adventure--the craziest, most emotional, triumphant, rewarding, lovely roller-coaster ride of my life.
And there are things I'm letting go of and giving up, things I never thought I'd live with or without. My living room is a mine field of teddy bears, building blocks, books, and balloons. My kitchen is perpetually piled up with sippy cups, washrags for wiping a sticky face and hands, high-chair trays, cheddar bunny crackers, and yogurt fruit snacks. The laundry is nonstop and my to-do list
is was full of tasks I will never get to do.
I've had other distractions, too. Social media--half my connection to the outside world--always pulling at me to log in. My phone rings and dings so often you'd think I was the downstairs staff at Downton Abbey. There's always emails to respond to, photos to post, chores to do, meals that need planned, errands to run, and a hundred other things that are calling me. Of course there are practical things I have to do for my family and me to live well: we need clean clothes, food to eat, a sanitary environment. I'll be responsible for my family's well-being, but other things can be put off. I've been married to my to-do list for too long.
Relationships. Experiences. Making memories. Those are the things life is made of. And if I'm living for a clean house or a Facebook status update, I'm missing out on stronger relationships with Jesus, my husband, my daughter, my family, friends--all the people right in front of me who just want my time. Instead of spending 15 minutes clicking Buzzfeed links on social media, I could be spending 10 minutes in prayer for a sick friend or family member and 5 minutes reading what God has to say about it. I can let those dishes sit a while longer and instead pick my tiny daughter up and set her on my lap when I see her flipping through her jungle animal board book. I can throw the laundry in the washer after my husband leaves for work and spend those last few minutes before he leaves for the day cuddling on the couch. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," (Matt. 6:21). We pour our resources (our time, finances, and energy) into whatever is our treasure in life. My life hasn't been reflecting that in the best way that it can, and so it starts today.
I will still clean my house and keep my Facebook account. But I am prioritizing my time for Christ, people, and memories, and I'm filing for divorce from my to-do list. I know the things I need to get done. I won't forget them. And when I've had time in God's presence, filled my child's heart with love and laughter, made my husband feel absolutely adoringly loved, and nurtured the people that matter most--then and only then I will pick up my house or catch up on the Facebook world.
I've let the distractions go. I've decided what is important, and I'm pursuing that. I'm pursuing it wholeheartedly, relentlessly, and without abandon. I'm pursuing it wildly.