We’re doing another modified round of sleep training. The basic idea is that instead of spending a long time, sometimes hours, soothing the twins until they’re asleep or just about there, we’re soothing them and then putting them down and leaving the room until they are worked up again and/or out of their beds. Then we go back in, pick them up, (well, really it’s Emily, so at least for now it’s “her”, not “them”) shh and reassure her, put her back down, and leave again. Lather, rinse, repeat. This afternoon it took 45 minutes. It was literally a matter of seconds between when she stopped crying and Joanna woke up. It was something like a miracle, really, that Joanna’s waking sounds didn’t awaken Emily again. I took Joanna into our room and she was wonderfully willing to just snuggle with me while I vegged for a while, so I did get some very appreciated down time while Emily slept. Tonight it only took 20 minutes to get Emily down for the last time, so I am feeling pretty relieved.
At last night’s parenting class there was a lot of good modeling just in the conversation and relaying of information about how to talk to kids, how to encourage them while also holding solid boundaries. That helped a lot tonight. Instead of just repeating the mantra, “It’s time to relax and go to sleep,” as I have done several billion times before, I started to say to Emily, “I’m sorry this is hard, I hear that you’re sad, I know you can do this, I know you can calm down.” I was able to stay more calm myself, I think because I was empathizing with her rather than just telling her what she had to do. And she calmed much faster this way. And walking out of the room helped me to feel that I was doing something proactive and not just being trapped in the room by Emily’s emotions. Walking back into the room when she got upset helped me to feel that I was taking care of her and not just ignoring her emotions. So, progress for her and progress for me.
I thank all that is good for the parenting class, and for the wonderful resources we have.
Joanna said please today! Well, ok, she said, “Peee” very quietly, but she did it! And when she shared a toy with Emily this afternoon, Emily said, “Sank oo”. This brings happy tears to my eyes. Not because my two-year-olds are uttering politeness words, but because we are communicating! And they are communicating with each other. We talked with the parenting class leader last night about the trouble I’ve been having on nights when Ted isn’t there, and in the conversation I was reminded that just because the twins aren’t saying a lot doesn’t mean that we can’t communicate with them, doesn’t mean they don’t understand and can’t indicate that at least to some level. It was a good reminder. It helped me today.
Love leads us into profound vulnerability, through challenge and conflict, fear and anger. We risk because we love. But the rewards of communicating with love, being open to feeling love and willingness through the hard emotions, are enormous. Love is not safety, but when we communicate lovingly, we can help ourselves and those we love take greater risks because we have a solid foundation of trust and security. Words matter. I am turning myself upside down and inside out because I love my children, but perhaps even more importantly, because I choose to love myself enough to hold myself to the highest standard I can, to challenge myself, to choose compassion first.
And oh, this path is hard!