Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Afternoons With Jack

After over 3 1/2 years, I've decided the days of Jack taking naps from 2-5pm are over.  (Yes, I'm in mourning.) It's really tragic because I worked SO hard when he was little to get him on a consistent nap schedule and I lived and died by that schedule - my body was programmed based on his sleep schedule.  My whole life was Jack's sleep schedule. 

And now I have to learn to adjust. It's probably as big a shift for me as it is for him.  (And I'm all of a sudden feeling very bad for all those shifts I put him through: weaning, taking away bottles, crib-to-bed transition... it's rough.  Very rough.)  The problem was that we'd start winding him down at 9:30 for bed (which is already too late, in my opinion) and it was getting to be later and later before he'd finally settle in to go to sleep... I drew the line at midnight.  It was taking away all my time with Justin.  It was taking away hours of sleep for me because I still get up early and midnight to 6 am isn't enough.  It was making me frustrated and my temper short and we were all going to bed grouchy and upset with one another.

So the naps had to go.

Sigh.  I miss the naps.

But I am really enjoying it at the same time... When the twins came along, as elated as I was to be adding to our family (and twice!), a small part of me was incredibly sad to be losing my relationship with him as an only child.  With the exception of the hour between when the girls went to bed and when we started putting him to bed, I got no chance to spend time with Jack by himself.  I had missed that more than I realized.  It's so refreshing to watch him and play with him and talk with him without having to scold him for not sharing or beating up a twin or stealing a juice cup or something.  It's amazing to observe his imagination when it's not being hindered by curious toddlers who strive constantly to get in Jack's way.

As I blog now, he's building more miles of train track and chattering away about the city he's constructing in and around his track.  He occasionally stops what he's doing, comes up to me and kisses my cheek and says, "I love you Momma; thanks for coming downstairs with me!" and it melts me.  I wonder if he missed this as much as I did?  And if he did, I wonder if I can ever make it up to him.

It's time like this - time spent with my kids as individuals instead of as a bundle - that reminds me that being the mommy of a several children has a special challenge: I must constantly be aware of the fact that each one has a unique personality and I must always strive to make sure I'm able to devote enough attention to each one of them.  Even though I'm exhausted and all I want to do is veg from 2-5 or not have to answer endless questions about everything in the universe for a few hours, it is so rewarding to take a bit of time to be with Jack as Jack... not Jack as the oldest kiddo or the only boy or whatever.   Just Jack.

Because in a few (very short!) months, that gift is going to be even harder to come by...


Sonora said...

Once again, you have hit it on the head. This is so true, especially the part of the challenge of mothering more than one and making sure you can devote time to all of them. It is so hard to do and I think I fail a little every day, but I do try. It is sad when the naps end, but I have found a similar experience with my five year old. She is the only one not napping right now and it is time alone we wouldn't get otherwise. You are a great mom! I hope you are feeling well.

Zookeeper Jess said...

Awww. I totally understand. Totally.

I'm already dividing my attention by 4. When we first got my nieces in February, my 2 year old stopped napping all together and I know it's because his whole world had just been turned upside down. I never pushed it and just spent nap time focused on him. He has since been napping but I try to take time to spend one on one time with each kid. For instance, one day Aiden will run errands with me and the next Skyla.

And like you mentioned, it's just awesome seeing their little personalities when you don't have to separate fights or make them share etc

Kate said...

So glad you're able to rekindle that one-on-one bond with Jack...hopefully you and Justin can do the same with earlier bedtimes for all the kiddos!! Good luck

Julie said...

So well said, Melis!! Since I put C-boy in school..and the other two are in school too...I am just soaking up this special time with L-boy. Never in his short life has he had my undivided attention for 2 1/2 whole hours!! WE are both loving it. And then when I pick up S-girl we put L-boy down for his nap and I get one on one time with her before I go and pick up the boys. Seriously..priceless. We've been working on reading for a few short weeks and I'm tellin' ya...she's a champ. Makes me wish I had carved this time out earlier!!

Amber said...

Cute post! You got a year and a half more of naps than I did! I do cherish Jolee's naptime because that is when James learns the most, when we read without interruption, bake etc...I know James and Jack adjusted fine to the big brother role but I know how happy James is when I say "We'll do (blank) when Jolee naps" and he says "OK MOM!" smiling! Loving the afternoons too!

Candi said...

Yes, I love when I tell my oldest that we will do ______ when her sister naps. The expression on her face is priceless. I can't imagine dividing my time with 3 or 4 but it looks like you are doing a great job!

Jami said...

yes yes yes. Cherish your time with him. You are such a great mommy!


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