I write this from the floor of my daughter's bedroom. She is three years old and can't sleep through the night. That means I can't sleep and whenever I leave this spot, my daughter screams at the top of her lungs. It's like clock work. I get up and go back to bed. Twenty minutes later, I hear her screaming, "Daddy!" Screaming back at her, "Go back to sleep!" doesn't work.
Pleading on my hands and knees doesn't either. Just laying in bed looking at the ceiling, knowing that as soon as I close my eyes she will start screaming, drives me insane. Oh, I should just let her scream it out? We can't have them running the ship, right? I did that. I let her cry it out for only five minutes. So, when I didn't respond during that five minute span, she wasted no time in dropping the atomic bomb.
"Daddy, Why don't you love me anymore?"
My wife and I both fell off the bed from the aftershock. My wife started to run towards the bedroom to comfort her. I lunged after my wife and tackled her to the ground. My wife yelled, "We can't let her cry like that!" I responded, "That's what she wants! To divide and conquer. Just cover your ears!" My daughter kept pouring it on. She started to spit up from crying so hard. The white flag was raised. The horns started playing. It was a bitter defeat.
It's been like this for three weeks. She used to sleep in my bedroom but we kicked that habit about six months ago, or so we thought. So, here I am writing to you on the floor. My back aching and my chest tightening from the stress or lack of sleep. I don't know what changed to make her start doing this. She isn't scared of monsters or the boogeyman, she just doesn't want to be alone.
What really gets my day going is when I receive advice from other people. Well it's your own fault. Why didn't you put your foot down when she was younger? I haven't slept, I'm on edge, and I really don't want to hear about what a great "sleep trainer" you are. Oh wow, you're so great! Your kid probably hates you! At least, my daughter knows when she shrieks I will slowly drag myself to her room. Who calls it sleep training anyway. These raw emotions come out when I am tired and frustrated. I become jealous of other people's children who sleep through the night. When I hear other parents say they don't have that problem, I respond with, "Oh yeah, that's great, good for you! Hey, maybe you can come over and give a seminar." Sarcasm laid as thick as possible. So thick that you can take a bite out of it. Yum.
I tried bribing her with toys. It doesn't work anymore, or at least not at 1:00 am. Also, asking her what's the matter is just as futile.
"Why are you crying?"
She yells, "Lay with me!"
"But, Why are you crying?"
"I told you five times, lay down with me, right now."
She wraps her arms around my neck and squeezes tight. All she wants is to be close. She wants to feel comforted and safe. Is that so wrong? Would I love to sleep in my own bed, yes. But the idea that the first thing she wants when she wakes up is to be comforted by her dad, feels great. It would feel better at 9:00 pm., instead of 2:00 am., but it still feels great. So, as I lay on floor with a stuffed bear as a pillow, I'm satisfied in knowing that my daughter loves me, as much as I love her.
Is there a lesson in all this? I'm not giving lessons on how to train your child to sleep through the night. I think that ship has sailed. What I think about most is just enjoying the moment. Yes, enjoy this. No, I am not crazy, a little off, but not crazy. Too often we dwell on the past or plan for the future when we shouldn't. Sometimes it's okay to just be. Let me reiterate, this sucks. I don't sleep and it affects my mood throughout the day. But I guarantee you this, I will look back when I am old and think about the time when nothing in my daughter's life mattered more than just being with her daddy. When simply just being there was enough for her to forget about what was troubling her and knowing that everything would be okay.