Making the decision to talk with Emma about something has not been a consideration until recently. For those of you who are loyal followers of this blog you might be caught off guard by the hopeful tone to this first sentence. If so, you’re right. It’s all part of the roller coaster ride we’re on. Feeling despair, feeling hopeful, feeling despair, feeling hopeful… Like some sort of Möbius strip, we twist and turn. Someone said to me once: feelings aren’t facts. I try to remember that when I am feeling gloomy and attempt to forget it when I’m optimistic.
Fact: Emma waking in the middle of the night disrupts the entire family. Richard and I decided a few weeks ago we would try talking with her about it with varying degrees of success. See What Now? , Wake Up and Good Bye Diapers! The fact that we had even one night without the sound of her mind-numbing shrieks or her stealthily crawling into our bed at 2:00AM was progress. So last night I decided to spend some time going over what I hoped she would be able to understand.
“Em, it’s time to get ready for bed,” I began.
“Go to sleep now,” Emma said, nodding her head.
“Yes, and when you go to sleep you stay in your own room,” I waited for a response.
“Okay, Emma? You have to stay in your bedroom all night. You cannot wake Mommy and Daddy,” I waited for some indication of understanding. When there was none, I added, “You have to wait until it’s no longer dark. If you wake up in the middle of the night you look out your window. If it’s still dark you stay in your own bed and go back to sleep.”
“Go into Nic’s room,” Emma whispered.
“No, Em. You stay in your own bed,” I explained.
“You have to wait,” Emma said, nodding her head up and down.
“That’s right, Em,” I smiled at her and kissed her forehead.
“You have to pull on Mommy’s robe. Mommy can I come get you into the other room?” Emma said.
“No, Em. You wait until it’s light out. Then you can come into Mommy’s room.”
“You have to wait,” Emma said again.
I continued to go over the plan with her, step by step. I attempted to explain the need for her to try and go back to sleep if she woke up in the middle of the night, the importance of staying in her own bed. I even went over breathing techniques to help her if she began to get upset and wanted to wake us. Emma nodded her head throughout all of this and interjected with things like, “Mommy’s so upset” and “You cannot wake Mommy”.
“You’re beating a dead horse,” Richard would have said had he been there to witness the ‘conversation’. I stopped talking, unsure if any of what I said had been understood.
When it was 6:30AM and Emma had not appeared, I smiled as I readied myself for the day. By 6:50AM and still no Emma I congratulated myself on a job well done. As I made my way out to the kitchen I paused at Emma’s room and peeked in. Her bed, a crumple of sheets, duvet tossed on the floor, pillows scrunched into the corner, looking as though a brawl had broken out, was empty. I opened the door to Nic’s room and saw Emma snuggled up to her brother fast asleep.
Nic woke with a start and groaned.
“Hey Nic. Are you okay?” I asked.
“No,” he moaned.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Emma! She kept me up all night. I’m so tired,” he said.
“Oh, Nic, I’m so sorry. Was she awake a long time?”
“I don’t know, she kept going like this,” he said putting his hand over my mouth. “And then when I ignored her, she’d do this,” he demonstrated by pushing my forehead with the palm of his hand.
“Nicky, I’m so sorry. I told her not to wake us, so she woke you instead.”
“It’s okay, Mom,” Nic said looking up at me blearily.
“Ach”, I muttered under my breath. “Next time come get me, okay? I’ll get her out of your room,” I said.
“Yeah, okay Mom,” Nic said.
As I rode the subway to my studio I consoled myself with the thought that even though I feel terrible for Nic that Emma woke him, it is an enormous sign of progress she understood at least part of the message I tried to convey to her last night.
I will speak with Emma again tonight. Maybe she’ll understand the entire message.
Who knows? .
As my brother Andy says, “Who knows anything?”