Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Parent"dox: "Mommy, I Slept All Night!"

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #20:  "Mommy, I Slept All Night!"


The slow opening of a toddler's bedroom door.

Pitter patter, pitter patter.

The soft sound of running toddler feet into my bedroom.

Adorable big, blue eyes peek over the edge of my bed.

"Mommy, I slept all night!"

My 3-year-old daughter is nearly bursting with pride, excitement and joy as she proclaims these words.  She wears them as a badge of honor.  

What words could possibly be any better to start my day?

None.  Absolutely none.

The only thing that could make them better would be...well, if they were actually true.

How can I possibly break her little heart and let her know that no, she did not, indeed, sleep all night?  How can I tell her she didn't achieve the goal she thinks she did?  How can I tell her the truth, which is very different than what she perceives it to be?

(Well, considering I got about 43 minutes of sleep the night before, the task seems somehow easier.  I don't do so well on not so much sleep.)

"Nope, you didn't.  Do you remember crying last night?"  (Blank stare.)  "You were crying and yelling last night."  (Blank stare.)  "Did you have a bad dream?"  (Smile creeps across her face.)  "What was your bad dream about?" (Smile gets a little bigger and more mischievous.)


Oh, if it were that easy.  She didn't really dream about monsters.  I think she thinks we're playing some sort of game, and that is the winning answer.  She'll smile and laugh and have no recollection of any monster or any dream or anything from the previous sleepless night.

Here's the thing...she really does think she slept through the night.  She is convinced she did.  She remembers getting her PJs on. She remembers brushing her teeth.  She remembers going to sleep in her bed.  She knows she just woke up in that same bed.  So what gives?

You see, my daughter has night terrors.  I used to think that name -- night "terror" -- was a completely over-dramatic title for a little bad dream.  That was until I lived with a 3-year-old who had them.  Now I think it is the biggest understatement in the history of the world.  "Night terror" does not do these things justice.  There are absolutely, horribly, dreadfully terrible.  

My daughter will cry and scream and thrash around in her bed, in such a way you'd think she's having an appendage ripped off or something.  And here's the kicker...she's not awake.  Not at all.  And if you make an attempt to wake her up (as I did when these first started...back in just gets worse and lasts longer).  Apparently, they are just something my daughter will outgrow.  Someday.  I'm hoping before she goes to college?  She'll go through 13 roommates her first semester otherwise.

But for now, we are just waiting it out.  Most nights, I end up in her room, rubbing her back or singing softly to her or just laying next to her, but out of her reach.  What helps one night, fails miserably the next.  It's hit or miss like that.  It's unbelievably hard to lay there and not be able to help her.  I'll hear my husband from our bedroom:

"Come back to bed.  She doesn't even know you're in there.  Try to get some sleep."

I know he's right, and I know he's trying to help.  But it still breaks my heart.  She doesn't even know I'm there.  But it breaks my heart even more to lay in the other room and listen to her scream and cry.

The only part that is somewhat comforting is that while she doesn't know I'm there, but that means she also has no idea she's having a night terror.  And she'll have no idea when she wakes up in the morning.  Whatever was causing her to cry and scream and thrash in the middle of the night will be erased from her memory by morning.  

She'll open her bedroom door, run over to my bedroom, look over the bed and proudly proclaim:

"Mommy, I slept all night!"

For now, I just keep waiting for the blissful, rested, consistent mornings when those words are true.

When they think they're sleeping, but they're really not...and neither are you...hang in there.  You Are a Good Mom.


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