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…about 7pm, our house is filled with giggles of delight as bath water sploshes on the floor. The witching hours of late afternoon have passed, dinner has been eaten, dishes packed away. It is a time of easy happiness. The Monster watches the bath fill with an anticipation retained since a little babe. Clothes are thrown on the floor, little legs clamber in to warm water and the splashing and laughter begin. Some nights, I think a raincoat would be handy.

Eventually we find some soap. “Mummy, I wash” Lachlan demands, taking the soapy washer from my hand. Washing done, I pull the plug. He packs up his toys, jumping out before the “big noise” as water gurgles down the drain. Teeth are brushed sometimes without incident. Always with lots of cajoling, singing and talk of needing clean teeth to visit the dentist.

In the warm dim light The Monster is dried and dressed. In between the putting on of socks and singlets, pants and shirts, we chat about the day that has been. Or the ones to come. He points out his painting. And spins the globe, pointing out far off places with names he is yet to know.

Teetering on the precipice of over-tiredness we begin sleep-time preparations. Story books thoughtfully selected. A big hug and kiss from daddy. Nightlight on. And we snuggle in the rocking chair for a brief time of peacefulness as the night slides quickly toward sleep.

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Dear Lachlan,

This week you turned twenty-four months. Two whole years old. Supposedly the terribleness starts here. I’m not convinced. I think the last month has been one of our very best and I’m holding on to the hope that the extra challenging days are behind us, at least for a little while. Part of this optimistic outlook stems from the fact that you are FINALLY sleeping. After two long years of broken sleep we are all reaping the benefits of a good nights rest. And it shows. Perhaps my favourite part of the day now is putting you to bed. We read some stories, cuddle, and then when I ask you if you want to go to sleep you nod happily and crawl under your cosy blankets, I tuck you in and walk out. No tears. For anyone. Which feels something close to miraculous.

With all the extra sleep being had, there’s more energy to play. Which is a good thing because right now, you LOVE to play. Cars, chase, sandcastles, scooting, ball. But your absolute, hands-down, favourite is hide and seek. It took a few days and lots of practice but you have finally figured out that to hide you actually have to be hidden instead of simply standing in the corner of the room and squeezing your eyes shut. Yes, sorry to say the idea of ‘if I can’t see you, you can’t see me’ doesn’t actually work (although I have had a few moments in my life that I have wished it did!). Oh and it’s probably best practice not to correct the ‘seeker’ when they ask “is he in the cupboard” by yelling “NO, TABLE!”.

But that’s just you. Since you found your words in the last few months there is no stopping you expressing yourself. And as far as you’re concerned it is totally ALL ABOUT YOU. Some days I think my ears might bleed if I hear “MORE”, “AGAIN” or “MY TURN” one more time. Except for the fact that despite the repetitiveness, I love the sound of your little sweet voice. Although something tells me you might not love the sound of my voice quite so much anymore. Just a sneaking suspicion I have since lately when I’ve tried to sing to you I’m met with a very emphatic “NO, MUM!”. It was really only a matter of time and frankly I would have been worried had you not started to realise that my singing voice is akin to a drowning cat. But that’s what I’m loving so much about you at this age. We talk about things and you can tell me, at least partly, what you are thinking. And that, that is so special. And something I look forward to more of in the coming weeks and months.

None of this terrible two’s business okay Monster? There’s too much fun to be had.

I love you more than words.

xx mum

You can find my other Letters to Lachlan here.

It’s no secret that night time parenting can often be the most challenging. Be it the bedtime wrangle or the sleep-time battle, being a mum between the hours of five in the afternoon and five in the morning are often the hardest. Despite the chaos, some of the sweetest moments are often stolen in the hours before sleep or in the dead of night.

Every night, after the bath-pj’s-teeth routine, Lachie and I will snuggle in the rocking chair for a story. For a child who is 110 per cent, 99 per cent of the time, it is a rare moment of quiet. And, as often as I’m dreading the pending fight to get him to sleep, I’m equally savoring every second of his closeness; his little fingers pointing out the animals in the story; his lips making ‘mwah’ noises as he kisses each of those animals goodnight; his chubby arms as he wraps them around me and whispers ‘cuddle’; and the immeasurable softness of his cheek as I kiss him goodnight.

Parenting can certainly have its I’ve-had-enough-I-want-to-quit moments but then there are times like these that make any thoughts of giving up seem ludicrous. Because it is all so worth it. Completely.

I’m sure parents, grandparents and well-meaning strangers told us how challenging getting a child to sleep can be. But before we had Lachie those pearls of parenting wisdom fell on deaf ears. I expected some sleepless nights, filled with feeding and burping and pacing the halls but in my mind, being stupidly tired would be temporary. Almost two years later and I’m still waiting for the constant fog of tiredness to lift. And it certainly isn’t from lack of trying.

When your child isn’t naturally inclined to slumber you have to get resourceful. The Monster has been put to sleep in a sling, in a pram, in the car, in the bassinet, in his cot, in our bed, to certain songs (this one in particular, I know it’s a bit weird), to white noise, to radio static, and to the dryer. We’ve rocked him, fed him, shushed him and patted him, rubbed his back, held his hand and stroked his face. Often a combination of them all. Getting The Monster to sleep, and to stay asleep has been a challenge that we weren’t at all prepared for. And it seems that Google doesn’t have the answer, because believe me I have looked, usually at three in the morning while rocking a restless toddler back to sleep for the zillionth time.

There have, however, been brief periods of reprieve. At twelve weeks old Lachie slept eight hours straight. I still woke for his 4am feed, but my gorgeous boy didn’t. And I thought that was the start of the end of our sleepless nights. Except that it wasn’t. It was a one off and he wouldn’t repeat the feat for another year. But that was okay. I knew then that it was too much to expect an infant to sleep all night without milk, their tiny tummies needed refilling often and beyond that it was ‘normal’ to seek comfort. So I put down the night-waking to regular baby behaviour and tried to catch up on sleep¬† where I could. But by about eight months I was at breaking point. I hadn’t had more than two hours straight sleep in months and I was too exhausted to even know where to begin dealing with the sleep issues we obviously had.

So off we went to the Brisbane sleep centre. And for the first time I learned to be pragmatic when it came to Lachies sleep. Until then I had refused to let him cry. I had read so much conflicting information about the detrimental effects of controlled crying versus the benefits of a child learning to self-settle but my heart told me I couldn’t let my baby cry for me. Over the five days we stayed at the Ellen Baron Centre the nurses helped me teach Lachie to go to sleep by himself. I won’t lie, it involved tears, both his and mine but by the time we went home I was a happy mumma with a well-rested baby.

And then The Monster got sick and it all went to shit. And I didn’t have it in me to go through the tears again so we just plodded along, doing whatever worked at the time, hoping that at some point he would just ‘figure it out’. But he didn’t.¬† Until at about sixteen months I went to Melbourne for four days and Lachie stayed at home with Troy and by the time I returned our house was miraculously quiet, ALL NIGHT. And for four blissful months we knew what it felt like to get a good nights sleep.

Until The Monster got sick and it all went to shit, again. So for the past few months I’ve gotten incredibly well acquainted with Lachies floor. And my hips hate me. And I just LONG to sleep a full night in my bed. We’ve tried co-sleeping but it just doesn’t work for us. Mainly because The Monster likes to sleep horizontally across the bed and has a mean right boot on him. We’re at breaking point again. And something has to give. So a few nights ago we started operation Monster-sleep. I’m happy to say there have been no tears. We’re employing a strategy of gradual retreat. Currently we’re able to stand at the door (a vast improvement from having to rock him to sleep!). And last night I only had to put him back into his bed ten times. Certainly an improvement on the fifty the night before. We’re getting there, slowly.

Tell me, were you naive about the challenges of little-persons sleep? How have you dealt with them? Have you turned into a zombie yet?