The nightly bedtime routine was something I used to dread, because it involved a lot of rocking Addie to sleep when she was just a baby. About 45 minutes of rocking and that was only if we were lucky enough to get Addie into her crib before she woke herself back up and commenced crying the saddest cry that would ever come out of a baby.
Eventually that bedtime routine morphed into more book reading and less rocking. We’d start with a few books, then I’d sing her two songs, and then I’d rock her until she fell asleep. If she woke up ten minutes later I would have to rock her again.
It took so much time to put Addie to bed that Casey and I sometimes fought about having to put Addie to bed each night. Eventually we began alternating nights, but I never really looked forward to putting Addie to bed, and that makes me sad. I didn’t recognize the sanctity of bedtime back then.
Vivi’s now a toddler and she doesn’t require regular rocking. There are times when Vivi struggles to fall asleep and some a little bit is required. Sometimes that extra rocking can come in 15 minute shifts that last well into the morning, but those are almost always the result of Casey being out of town. But for the most part Vivi is easy to put to bed.
We read Vivi four books, sing her two songs, hum a song four times, and then put her in her bed whether she’s asleep or not. We don’t fight about who has to put Vivi to bed, and I don’t groan when Vivi demands that I be the one to put her to bed. Each time I’m reminded of the difference between how I feel about putting Vivi to bed and how I felt about putting Addie to bed, I regret the bad decisions that I made in the past.
My priorities back when Addie was a toddler weren’t where they needed to be. For some reason, I figured that I would always have the opportunity to put Addie to bed, so putting her to bed wasn’t viewed as some kind of gift that would come and go before I was ready for it to be gone. Addie was always going to be my little toddler, but here she is now, only a month away from being 9-years-old, and those days of getting to put her to bed are gone forever. Never to returned. I’ll never have the opportunity to hold her little body in the rocker as she slips into sleep.
This parenting thing is hard, but it’ll be over before I know it and I don’t want it to ever be over.
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