I was speaking with my mom.
I was referring to sleep at night.
It is a very big deal.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
For the past three years, we have combatted sleep issues around here. Very, very little in my parenting journey has been as challenging as this. Most nights, our Sweet K, now just over three years old, could be up anywhere from 1 time (that is extremely rare), to 2 times (what I consider a VERY good night), but most commonly between 5-10 times. Sometimes she'd be up for an hour, sometimes three. Not really crying a lot, but complaining.
Enough to keep me awake.
And enough to keep me constantly seeking solutions.
I've learned, since beginning this adventure, that children with learning issues often have sleep difficulties. Their bitty bodies and brains process information and stimulation differently and this naturally affects their sleeping habits. Of course, not every child with a sleep issue has learning disabilities, and conversely not every child who learns differently has a sleep issue. But the correlation between the two is very, very common.
A few things I am learning along the way....
- Heavy blankets matter. The extra weight of a wool blanket vs. a synthetic fiber makes a big difference. Keeps a restless one more settled.
- Jammies are a big deal. No cute little pjs for this girlie. It's head-to-toe, polar fleece sleepers. Anything much lighter and we are awake A LOT!!!
- Milk at night is a no no. First, it is bad for their teeth. Second, a slurp of creamy milk is far more tempting then a splash of water. If thirst is an issue, then fine. We'll grab a drink. But I'll make it as unappealing as possible ;).
- Crying it out works --- sometimes. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. I have let Sweet K cry it out, but unless I work like a detective to figure out the root cause of the awakenings, it's really all for not.
- Routine is a must. Well, that is one of my personal mantras anyway ;) --- we help maintain sanity around here by keeping our days pretty predictable. Nap times (or rest times) are essential, but cannot be allowed to interfere with night sleep.
- Watch what they eat at supper. In the past few months, Sweet K has become a very difficult eater. Well, she eats GREAT if it's things she likes, but if not, it becomes a battle of the wills!!! I quickly realized that a skimpy supper affects much more than my blood pressure at the dinner table (which tends to skyrocket with frustration ;P)!!! If I know that we are in for a fight on our hands during supper, then K gets something a little more substantial at snack (keeping in mind this is not a reward for not eating well, but something that I know will tide her through the night better than goldfish crackers!!!).
All this helps. A little. And it goes in cycles. Our Tiny L has become a fussy baby during the night in the past few weeks and I know that this impacts Sweet K's light slumber as well.
We are also venturing into the world (very very slowly and with extreme caution) of supplements. I have recently started Sweet K on a very very very small dose of Melatonin, which if taken for the short term, should have very little side effects (I have not noticed any), and it can help regulate the body's natural melatonin production. From the reading that I've done, there seems to be quite a high success rate among children who have development delays, autism and ADD/ADHD. If this doesn't work, there are several other options to explore.
However, here again is where I stop and marvel at the grace of God. Spoken or unspoken, my daily prayer is that He would enable me to live well, love well in spite of the fatigue. Some days are quite rough, but I have again discovered that
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9.
I wrestle with the limitations of exhaustion all the time (there is so much I want to do, but have no energy to do it!!) and that is frustrating. I also forget a lot of stuff. So, if I have met you on the street, and forgotten your name, I am truly sorry!!! I am working on this, I promise!! I don't feel like my "best self" most of the time, and sometimes I am sad about that.
And yet, in spite of this, I am amazed by how God weaves into this the beautiful sweetness of life. Every day it is a blessing for which I am grateful. I don't like it when people tell me that "this time goes so fast" because I know that it does and am already so hard trying to savor every moment. And in spite of the fog, His grace allows me to absorb, embrace, love and keep on keeping on.
What a gift!!
My words to my mom that morning were desperate, maybe even a shade hormonal ;), but untrue.
I have not given up hope.
The God who stands with us in the midst of this is inviting me to persevere under the protection of His grace.
I wrote a quote down the other day; one I picked up from a novel I was reading:
"You know what? I used to think the creator tested me to discover how strong I was. Lately, though, I've begun to realize that he has an entirely different purpose in mind. The author of my life already knows everything about me, so he already knows how strong I am. The tests come to me - and to you - so we will know how strong HE IS when he carries us through what we cannot handle alone." The Novelist, Angela Hunt.
You may not be "Sleepless in Smallville Manitoba" :) - but you may find your hope challenged too, from time to time. I'd love to hear what you are learning as He is carrying you through.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled
[and a good night's rest!!!!]
is a tree of life.