Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Separation Anxiety

You know how everyone tells you that little boys are awesome for their mommies?  That they are cuddly and sweet and love their mommies first and foremost?  So life as a mommy is not complete without a little boy to cuddle and love on?

Well, that is not totally true in my case.  Freddie is pretty sweet.  And when he is very tired or sick he will cuddle for a minute.  But really, I got my cuddly little lovey in Ainsley.  She loves to be held and hugged and touched and loved on.  Freddie is independent.  Ainsley, not so much.

I don't think Freddie has every really had an issue with separation anxiety.  I mean, there are times he's cried when I've left him at daycare and he is a bit shy around strangers...but ongoing, long term anxiety?  No. 

Ainsley on the other hand...Ainsley is her mama's girl through and through.  It is ego boosting and nice to be the light of some one's life.  To be the one person that a little girl wants to do everything with.  I do love it.

However, it can cause...issues.

It is dance recital time all over the world.  This is our week.  We had blocking on Sunday, dress rehearsal last night, and the performance is Saturday.

Blocking went very, very badly.  My sweet girl, who is usually very outgoing and loves attention would not get on stage.  She was coerced with Starbucks scones, but then she cried so much that she had to be removed from stage.  She watched her class dance from the sidelines.  The week before, in her last class, she wouldn't leave my side.  The teacher managed to get her dancing for a few minutes, but basically she was in my lap.

This sent me into a panic.  How could this happen?  My energetic, boisterous little girl was petrified to be separated from me.  How would I drop her off for dress rehearsal?  How would I detach her for the performance?  A time when she'd have to be away from me for 3 hours or more?  A time when people had paid for tickets and were traveling long distances to see her dance for 3 minutes?  Would she do it?  Would she get on stage and do her dance that she's so amazing at?

I spent all day yesterday in an anxiety ridden fog.  I thought about it all day.  I literally did no work.  My neck is still sore from the tension I was feeling

The time came and I picked her up from daycare, drove to the auditorium, and did her hair and makeup.  Clif was going to meet us to take her to the drop off room.  We thought it might go better with him.  But I was a mess.  I was on the verge of tears all evening.  I snapped at Freddie a few times.  I was sweating like I was on a treadmill.

I just wanted to see her on stage.  I was sure she was in the prep room bawling her little eyes out and refusing to go on stage.  Although, I knew I hadn't abandoned her, what kind of story was her wild, almost 5 year old mind spinning?

Know what?

She was fine.  Totally fine.  More than fine.  She did her thang on stage better than I've ever seen her do it.

So I ask you...who has the separation anxiety?  Me or her.  Hmmm....

(She's the first on the right in the back row.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Night 2

I'm not going to post about this every day, and this will not be long like yesterday's...but thought you'd want to know that last night?  Brutal. 

Not sure if she was just really tired Wednesday night, or if Clif not being around last night made a difference, or if this is just how it goes...but Ainsley was still awake at 10:30 last night.  I checked on her every minute for an hour and 25 minutes.

She didn't cry, she didn't complain, but she laid there awake.  I ended up sitting on her floor, at which point she fell asleep in less than 90 seconds...might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much.

So here's my question...HOW DOES ONE DO THAT?!?!?!?! 

How do you lie in bed for an hour and a half...tired...and not fall asleep?  I will never know that answer, because I am absolutely certain that if I stay in one spot for longer than 20 minutes, I will fall asleep...anywhere.  And, it doesn't matter if shadows are morphing into monsters or witches are hovering above.  Give me 20 minutes in a dark room and Good Night people!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sleep Training, Part Two...Night 1

This will be long...I apologize now...

The sleeping thing with Ainsley has not gotten any better.  For the last week, one of us has been sitting on her floor while she falls asleep.  Then to add to the sleep issues, she's been waking up and joining us in our bed.

So I've been searching for an answer.  I got a lot of ideas and advice and I've tried them ALL. 

Her biggest issue seems to be that she's scared.  She can't really tell me why she's scared.  Sometimes she says she has bad dreams.  So I've ordered a dream catcher.  Should be here today.  Sometimes she says she's afraid of shadows in her room.  So I've spend lots of time trying to eliminate anything that may be scary.  Sometimes she says she's scared of a bad man coming in the house and taking her.  So I've told her about special angels watching over her and how mommy and daddy will never let that happen.  Sometimes she says she's scared of a random thing on her floor.  So I've tried to pick all those things up before bedtime.  Sometimes she's scared of monsters and witches coming in her door or out of her closet.  So we got a special "magic" stuffed animal that takes away bad things.

None of this has worked.  So I was starting to believe she was making it all up.  I decided this week that I would not sit in her room and she'd have to fall asleep on her own.  Well, it didn't work either.  There were lots of tears, lots of screams, lots of late nights.  I'm pretty sure, before last night, she wasn't asleep before 11 since last week.  That's really late for a 4 year old who has to get up at 6 AM.

On top of that, she was still scared...but still, no real details.  Just vague references to a shadow or a dream.

People...I thought I might lose my mind.

Then a friend at work gave me a book about sleep issues.  I did not read the whole thing.  But there was a whole chapter about childhood fears and anxiety.  Whoever wrote this book, pretty much convinced me that she did have some anxiety around bed time.  She was not making this up to get me to stay or push limits.  She was sincerely afraid of something.  The writer suggests that some kids at that age are just anxious about life in general, and even though all day they're perfectly fine, at night those anxieties manifest into creepy monsters and scary witches.

He suggested a few things.  First, move her bedtime back.  The more tired she is, the faster she'll fall asleep, and the less time her mind will wander to all those terrifying ideas.  Second, be absolutely strict with bedtime.  When it's bedtime, it's bedtime.  There's no bargaining for more time, no crying, no fighting.  Stick to your guns.  For the most part, I do this...but he said something that totally hit home with me.  I'm paraphrasing here, but basically - You need to be your kid's rock.  Your kid needs to know what happens next so anxiety is lessened.  If one night she asks for 5 more minutes and I allow it but the next night she asks and I get upset, I'm sending a mixed message.  Mixed messages = Anxiety = Monsters in her closet = No sleep for any of us.  Well duh, Jaime!  Be consistent, that's what we're supposed to be right?  I know this, but him laying it out like that made me realize that I definitely had some work to do in that department.

Third thing he mentioned happened earlier in the night.  Not at bedtime, talk to her about her fears, her needs, her wants.  We did this at dinner.  Again, the fears were pretty vague...shadows, dreams.  No real detail.  But we agreed upon a bedtime routine and also agreed that I would check on her every minute until she fell asleep.

That's right...every MINUTE.  This also was a suggestion in the book.  Most of the time, kids are scared because they don't know where their parents are.  So they lie awake wondering and worrying if they've gone to bed or if they're still watching TV or whatever.

Finally, the writer thinks you should give rewards for small accomplishments.  Again, I know this.  Success leads to more success.  However, in my sleep deprived, frustrated haze...I think I forgot it.  I assumed that because Ainsley had been sleeping on her own for awhile, that we could jump right back to that spot, and I would accept nothing less for a sticker on her sleep chart.  I need to take a step back and reward her for the small things.

So at 8:30 last night, her alarm went off and it was bedtime.  She did ask to finish her show, I said no...but I didn't get upset.  She protested, but I stuck to it.  We went upstairs, brushed teeth, read one book, cuddled and talked for 5 minutes, and then said good-night.

She cried as I left her room, but only for a minute, because then I popped back in.  She didn't cry again.  Once she understood that I would appear every minute, and how short a minute is...she was fine.

I left at 9:00.  At 9:35 I walked in and checked, she was asleep.  I think she was asleep around 9:25, but since I was just "popping" in, I couldn't tell for sure.  She didn't really move during those last 10 checks.

I know what you're thinking...EVERY MINUTE!!!  I was stressed about this idea too.  But once I just accepted the fact that during this time I wouldn't be able to clean the kitchen, do laundry, read, or watch TV, it wasn't so bad.  It was basically the same as sitting on her floor...only we're one step closer to her doing it on her own.  And falling asleep at 9:30, is way better than 11:30.

I plan on doing this for the next few nights and then lengthening the time to 3 minutes between check ins.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I've been frustrated and angry with the situation, but it's really important to me that she not be scared.  So if there's anything I can do to fix that, I'm going to try.  I was always so scared to sleep alone as a child, and I really remember that panic in my stomach and chest.  I slept with my siblings until I was 12 or 13 because of that awful feeling of being alone and vulnerable.  I don't want that for her.  I want to fix this and give her only sweet dreams.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Missing Week

Seriously, I just looked at my blog and saw June 6th as my last post, then looked at the calendar and said "Oh, it's only been a week, why is Clif complaining."

Um...no.  It's been two weeks.  Today is the 20th...not the 13th.  So somehow I lost a week somewhere.  That's not a good thing when my weeks just fly by anyway.  So to have a week just "poof" - disappear into thin air?  Really bad.

So where did it go?  How did a week just flash by?  So fast that I thought it had never been...

June 10th.  An in home date for our anniversary.  Happy 6th anniversary to us.

The movie Tron, blue drinks, and popcorn - popped in a pot, I might add.  Too bad we only saw 20 minutes of the movie...This is the night Freddie came down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth.  Sweet.
My gift to Clif...because we are broke.  Just a reminder that money isn't everything.  Each penny is from an important year in our lives.

Day 1 of sick children.  I couldn't take the fighting anymore and really needed to get the kitchen cleaned.  Found it on pinterest.  Sorry it's fuzzy, I was working on 2.5 hours of sleep.  I thought it was clear at the time.
Day 2 of sick children.  Finally found a great base for making blanket/pillow tents in the living room.
Bye-bye babies...
...off to Chicago. 
June 16th.  Tickets to Dave Matthews.  It's been 18 months since we've seen him.  Super excited.

Largest crew we've had for a show in quite some time.  Normally, it's just me and Clif tailgating by ourselves.

The only man I'm ever allowed to leave Clif for...if his wife's okay with it, we are totally down.

This was our Anniversary present to one another...just a week late.

Happy Father's Day, Clif!
Sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

That Whole Sleeping Thing...Yeah...

So remember when I told you all what an awesome parent I am?  And remember when we talked about the sleep chart?  And remember my whole book/talk show idea to make millions?

Yeah...not happening.

After 4.5 months of sleep training Ainsley...we are back at square one.  We moved last month, and I thought there may need to be some adjustments.  But actually, she took it like a champ.  She slept in her own bed, in her own room with no problems.

In fact, she was sleeping better than Freddie.  There were no tears when I left the room.  She'd fall asleep in the hour that I spent downstairs, and she wouldn't wake until the next morning.

Then something changed.  Not sure why...but I definitely know when.  Two Mondays ago, we had a major meltdown and it hasn't gotten better since.  I thought that maybe it was just a rough night, even though we have not seen a night like that since week one of the sleep training.  Instead, it's still going on.

There are massive tears and fits when I leave the room.  She's awake until 11PM or later.  If by some chance I do get her to sleep, she usually ends up in my room before morning.  Getting her up in the morning is difficult.

It's like I  have stepped back in time 6 months, only now I know what the promised land holds...one hour each night of a grown up TV show...time to prep for the next day...laundry done...sleeping in my own bed all night.  And I see it slipping through my fingers quickly. 

I really don't know what to do.  Do I start the sleep chart all over again?  Do we actually go back to the beginning and sleep with her?  She's miserable, I'm miserable, Clif's miserable...I'm at a loss.  It just doesn't make sense, I don't know what changed.

So I think tonight I'm making a new sleep chart...we'll see how it goes.  Wish me luck.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Storm's Coming

The sudden wind cools my hot skin as I finish the last few strides of three miles.  Moments before, the hot sun had beat down on me.  Now the coolness moves in.  The electricity in the air bears down and the pale green undersides of the leaves are flipping towards the sky.

Without warning I am transported back to the covered green deck on the house near the creek.  I am 4, maybe 5, sitting in the dark night with my mother.  The deck seems so high.  I dangle my favorite doll over the edge, feeling that thrill of near loss.  What lies below is only darkness and depth.  If I let go, she's gone forever.

"Remember what I told you about the leaves?" she asks me.
"Yes, but I can't see the leaves," I respond.
"But can you feel the storm?  Feel the spark in the wind?"  I can't see her eyes, but I can feel them watching for a response
I nod.  "Are the leaves flip flopping?" I ask.
"Yes," she says, "If you look closely at that tree you can see them."

I stare hard, barely able to make out the individual leaves in the night.  Then the first bolt of lightening illuminates the sky, and I can see the leaves flopped with their bellies facing the starless sky.

"Did I ever teach you how to count between lightening and thunder?" she asks me.
I shake my head.

Lightening flashes again.
"One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three..."
Thunder roars in the distance.

"Three miles," she says.
"Three miles?" I repeat.
"The storm is about three miles away.  Count the seconds between lightening and thunder and that's how far away the storm is."

Lightening stabs the blackness and I begin "One Mississippi, Two..."
Thunder pierces my ears and shakes my small frame.

"It's moving fast.  The storm will be here before you know it," she says as she hugs me closer.

The rain starts.  Big, heavy splashes on the wooden railing.

Lightening streaks through the night and before I can begin my count the thunder rumbles overhead.

"See," she says, "That means it's here.  Right over your head."

The rain is coming quicker now.  The drops are smaller, but more persistent.  The lightening and thunder intertwine and flow within one another until I'm certain that the large, crackling spears of light are causing the rumble through my teeth.

We sit in silence until the rain subsides and the flashes becomes softer.  Again the bolts of light and the rolling noise is separate as the storm moves west.

I climb the hill to my car and stretch my legs against the bumper.

"Looks like the storm's comin'" a man grins at me as he rolls past on his bike.
"I think so," I respond and climb into my car as the first drops splash across my windshield.
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