Last night was a milestone. Ben, my proud two year old, (See him displaying his fingers? “Do!”) moved from his crib to his big boy bed on the bottom bunk. And Jack, my sweet five year old, moved from the bottom bunk to his even bigger big boy bed on the top bunk. It was all very exciting. The boys were thrilled to go to bed. I don’t think that has ever happened. Ever.
And then the lights went out.
As I rocked with Ben (you can’t end all of the baby stuff in one night), Jack started to lament that he didn’t want to sleep on the top.
That was unexpected.
So, after I put Ben to bed on the bottom I crawled up to the top to have a heart to heart with Jack. He said he was scared. Then he asked why Ben was sleeping on the bottom and not in his crib. I told him it’s because Ben’s not a baby any more and he’s too big for the crib. It turns out Jack wasn’t as excited for the change as Ben was. Once we discussed how he got bigger just like Ben did he was fine. I kissed them both good night and left the room.
I wish I could say – “End Scene.”
Not so much. Soon there was the expected pitter-patter of little feet excited to be able to leave his bed for the first time in his life, followed by a rattling at the doorknob and the call out, “Da!! Da!!”
Tim appropriately brought Ben back to bed.
And he stayed in bed. But then the coughing started. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, he has a cough. A cough that wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but there was something about this cough combined with a new bed that was unsettling for little Ben. It seemed that every 15 minutes from their bedtime (7:30pm) until my bedtime (10:30), one of us had to go comfort Ben. After I went to bed, Tim stayed up, and he continued checking in on him until 12:15. At 12:45, I got up, pulled my pillow with me and crawled into Ben’s bed in the hopes that maybe he would be calmer with me there. He was. He slept. I did not. At 1:45am I moved back to my bed only to be pulled out of bed at 2:05 by screams, pitter-patters of feet and banging from the inside of the boys bedroom door. After I got him back into bed again. He slept until 8:00am. I think. Or I just was too exhausted to hear his crying anymore.
It was a long night.
And at one point during the night I thought, What am I doing? Why isn’t this working? Was I wrong to allow Ben to switch bed’s tonight? Am I failing?
And all of a sudden, there it was. That “F” word again. Failing. I must be failing.
That thought in my head is as strong as a reflex. Things are hard – I’m failing. My kids are unhappy – I’m failing. The day today isn’t like the day I anticipated it to be – I’m failing. I can’t do what I think I should be able to do – I’m failing.
Lies. All lies. And for the first time last night, when that question came to my mind, Am I failing?, I was able to firmly answer, “No.”
That is a milestone for this mama.
No. I was not failing. Sure Ben was unhappy. But since the only alternative was to put him back in his crib (which would have made him pissed!), we persevered, continued on. And eventually he slept.
It was not easy.
When did an easy day come to mean a successful day? Or when did tears become equated with failure? When did we moms start to judge ourselves as successes and failures based on our sense of how the day should go rather than the way it went? When did we accept a label like “failure” instead of recognizing that the journey of motherhood is always going to have pot-holes, tears, and grass-stains? We are not going to know how to handle each new challenge the first time it comes, but are going to need to get back up again after we fall down. This is not failure. It’s learning.
I am learning. I have two kids, and the second one has handled moving to his big boy bed in an unexpected, difficult way. It did not go the way I hoped. Heck, it’s still not going the way I hope. But I am not a failure. And neither are you.
Now excuse me, he’s up an hour early from his afternoon nap, banging on that door again. Time to pick myself up and try something new…