I still rock Nolan to sleep.
He’s going to be two next month. I’d worry that I’ve instilled some terrible sleep habits except he goes down at night just fine. Nighttime is easy. Diaper change, clothes off, pajamas on, read two books in the rocking chair, sing the Daniel Tiger goodnight song, “fissy” (read: fishy) projection on the ceiling, sound of rain on the sound machine, plop him in bed and goodnight goodbye see you in the morning.
Naptime is another story.
I plop him in bed and he does just fine flipping through (or occasionally ripping apart) some books for a while. But it doesn’t take long before I hear, “Mommy! Mommmmeeee! Mom-MEEEE!”. Mommy, mommy, mommy on repeat. I’m not sure exactly how long he would keep it up if I let him. I cave after a few minutes since I have three others to worry about in rooms nearby: two three-year olds in separate rooms and a husband in the bedroom-turned-office that shares a wall with Nolan’s room, all attempting their own version of work and quiet time. So I give in, go upstairs, open the door, peek my head in. “Up,” he demands with that serious little look, chin tucked down, big blue eyes looking up at me. “Rock,” he says, and so I do.
Part of the reason I’ve kept it up this long is that it’s quick. It takes no longer than five minutes and usually less than two. The second his head hits my shoulder and I start to move around the room his body relaxes. I make a couple of laps around the bedroom and stop in front of his door to do the side-to-side bounce that does him in every time. Right-left-right-left-right-left and it doesn’t take much before he’s a goner.
Part of it is that I’m lazy. It’s the easy thing to do, the why-fix-what-ain’t-broken route. After a full morning of carrying, feeding, changing, driving, playing, disciplining, and plain old interacting with three little ones, I’m over it. It’s naptime. Just go to sleep. Whatever it takes. A quick rock, drop him in the crib where he immediately rolls over to his right side, V for victory arms as I walk out of the room, and done.
Part of me enjoys it. I didn’t enjoy the rocking all that much when they were babies, when I could walk and rock and pace the room for half an hour and still not know if they were really asleep, if they would stay asleep, if they would ever for the love of God please just sleep. But this two minutes and done rocking session is right up my alley. I put in my time, he does his thing, and see you later. It’s a remnant of his babyhood. He still curls his hand up right against his cheek. I have pictures of him with the same face, the same hand, the same droopy-lipped position when he was a real baby, not the boy-giant he is now.
It’s a connection to this babyhood, I suppose. Really the last fragment of it from an almost-two year old who is ahead of the game in nearly every other area, one who is talking in full sentences, counting to ten, who could climb up to the top of the tallest part of our neighborhood playground at 14-months old, and often eats more at a meal than his brother and sister combined. (Well, the naptime rocking and the diapers. Though the diapers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. He asks for the potty and then runs away screaming, “I don’t like it!” *sigh* Someday…)
My right shoulder is often tense and sore. I’m sure it’s from these rocking sessions, every day at naptime. They may last mere minutes, but my “baby” is now 30+ pounds. My right shoulder is exactly the spot where he curls up, and has curled up, nearly every day for the past two years. (Somehow “fit in monthly massage therapy appointments” hasn’t quite made it into the budget in the past 24 months.)
I don’t have any real plans to drop our daily rocking session in the near future. I’ve made arbitrary deadlines before...when he’s 15 months old...when he’s a year and a half...sometime this fall...but I clearly haven’t followed through. It’s the one time a day, just me and him, that I don’t mind it being just me and him. The rest of the time he’s so loud, so active, so wiggly, so squirmy, so fast, so much. He relaxes for a couple of minutes in my arms and so do I. Now if he could just get the hang of that whole nap thing for more than an hour and fifteen minutes at a time...
Photo credit: Prall Photography.