For the longest time I’ve been in denial about the fact that my “baby” is not really a baby anymore; mostly because it makes my heart hurt too badly to think about. But nonetheless, this is the reality that I am being faced with.
I have a toddler now. A real, miniature person with thoughts and feelings and opinions…so many opinions.
She can climb on furniture, throw a ball, dance, spin, sing and tackle our dog like nobody’s business. She can point to things that she wants and she can most assuredly let me know when there are things she doesn’t want.
Sadly, one of the things she has decided that she doesn’t want anymore is me rocking her to sleep.
While we were in Florida last week I had a difficult time getting Fern to sleep. Because we were in a different environment, it was just a little harder to get her to sleep even though I still nurse at bed time, so my dad took over bed time duty and got her to sleep like a dream every night of our trip. Because she had already gone days without her night time nursing routine, I just decided to keep it that way once we got home. At 16 months, I still nurse Fern 2-3 times a day, but weaning is probably on the horizon for us, so I figured I might as well just start with the night feeding.
For the past few evenings at bed time, we’ve gone through our usual routine and then when it’s time for sleep. In lieu of our usual rocking/nursing schtick, I thought we could just switch it to rocking/singing, but I was wrong. Fern wasn’t into it at all. She just kept wiggling and putting her hand over my mouth. It was as if she was trying to tell me to stop singing, because she knew that singing meant it was time for sleep. After about 10 minutes of this I asked, “Do you just want to go to sleep?”, and she responded by pointing to her teepee (this is where she sleeps – weird, but adorable). A definitive yes. I laid her down and came out to the living room to cry.
I know I’ve said before that I don’t particularly like babies, but the idea of my own baby growing up makes me sad. I truly do love seeing her grow and change and develop a personality, but I also know that with this comes new challenges and fears. As a baby I felt like I could protect her a little bit more…like she was a little bit safer. But, as a toddler and then a young girl and even later a grown-up woman, there are going to be things that I just won’t be able to protect her from. The thought of her suffering through friend drama, body image issues, first heartbreaks, or even just a broken bone are more than I can bear to entertain. I know that these things are just a part of life and it’s not like I want to keep her in a bubble or anything, but for some reason I’m still having a hard time letting go.
I know that breastfeeding and rocking her to sleep are not the end all be all of our relationship, but right now it feels like the only thing I have left that is keeping her a “baby”, which is probably why I’ve been clinging on so tightly to it. I know in my head that there are better things ahead, but right now I’m just sad.
Have any of you experienced a bout of “toddler blues” like mine? How did you get over it?