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Opinion: Will my toddler ever go to sleep?

As a mom, if there’s something I feel completely incompetent about it is Enzo’s sleeping. (Or lack thereof.)

Last night I spent an eternity (ok, really about two hours– but it felt like an eternity) trying to get my toddler to fall asleep in his toddler bed. First, I lay down with him, thinking he would dose into sleepy wonderland and I would slide out of his bed and out of his room without a problem. When I hear his breathing is heavy, and I think he is deeply asleep, I let out a sigh of relief – but letting go is tough. He holds my hair and holds my hand.  When I am about to remove the last finger or strand of hair, and I think I’m almost good to go, he senses it and wakes up.

“No se vaya mama.” (Don’t leave mommy.)

UGH – it was so close!  So, I start all over. I explain it’s time to sleep, I explain “mamá está cansada,” (Mommy is tired) I tell him Mama’s back hurts, and she has to go to her own bed, hoping he will understand. After I try everything, and when all hope is lost and I’m laying down on the floor next to his bed (and he’s still firmly gripping on to that last strand of hair…) I cry. Real tears. That’s all I can do.  I cry because I just want to sleep and because I’m frustrated that he won’t sleep. I wonder if this will ever end. I also think that Enzo is totally going to be an only child because I’d be crazy to want to do this again…

Finally, I give up. Enzo wins. I take him to the couch. There, he grabs my hair and he falls asleep peacefully next to me.

Why does he do this? I don’t know for sure, but part of me thinks it’s because he hasn’t seen much of me lately (trips, conferences, grad school, long hours, etc) so he just wants to be with me. Ok, he wants to be with me and we never did sleep train him properly.  To me that was cruel and unusual punishment.

Only now it seems I’m the one experiencing cruel and unusual punishment.

It’s not about my son not being able to sleep. I know he can sleep – because my husband has the magic touch. This is no secret.  My husband is the Sleep Whisperer.

When he puts Enzo to bed, the bedtime routine only takes about 30 minutes. Me? It takes 3 books (read by me) 2 more books (read by him) songs (sung by both of us) and a committee of stuffed animals and a lot of hair stroking. In the middle of the night, if Enzo’s dad goes in, he comes out in 4 minutes flat – and not with Enzo. Enzo knows his father means business.  Me? I’m the “softy.”

I wonder where I went wrong.  Am I not present enough? Am I not stern enough? Was it the 15 months of bonding during breastfeeding? Does he want more bonding time? Has there been too much change? Right now, with Abuelos away, Enzo spends all week at daycare (new) and his days are long. It’s a lot for a toddler.

I have to say, it’s actually sweet if you think about it: the best thing in the world for him at night is holding my hair. (This is me, looking at
the glass half full…)

If it’s the hair he wants, he can have it! Last night, I actually contemplated cutting a piece of my hair and giving it to him.  Would that  be so crazy? OK, clearly that was the sleep deprivation talking.

(But I do wonder if that would work.)

NBC Latino contributor Diana Limongi

Diana Limongi-Gabriele works hard juggling a full-time job, motherhood, family, grad school and her blog, LadydeeLG, where she writes about issues she is passionate about including teaching her son Spanish, motherhood, parenting, Latino issues, good quality food and women’s issues. Diana is a regular contributor for Mamiverse. She has a MA in Migration Studies, and is pursuing an MPA in Nonprofit Management. Her most important job however, is being mommy to Enzo, a French/Hispanic/American (one day trilingual) 2-year-old boy. You can connect with her via Twitter, @dianalimongi or on Facebook.

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