Converting to a toddler bed also converted Momma into a toddler

This is some seriously exciting stuff!


It took me four hours to get Hollis to take a nap and in that four hours, which I depict above in photographs as nothing short of painfully cute and adorable, I was reduced to a yelling, temper-tantrum-throwing, hair-pulling lunatic.  I found myself on a merry-go-round of emotions where a petulant, exhausted, and frustrated toddler took turns ebbing and flowing in and out of my emotional frame of mind with an educated, sedate, patient woman.  

What a surprise it was to discover that not only was there a 3-foot toddler in the room, but there was also a 5'5" toddler there as well: Me.

This whole thing started because potty-training is going swimmingly.  We spend the mornings pantsless, diaper-up to leave the house and for naps, go pantsless for the evening, then get re-diapered for sleep.  Lots of peeing and pooping in the potty going on around here and it's been ridiculously easy, and, dare I say, fun.  I mean, clapping my hands and doing a little jig because there's a giant toddler turd in the potty evokes something primordially excited in me.

Occasionally, he would call for me to come get him out of his crib and I didn't hear him or couldn't come right away and I'd find that he'd peed or pooped in his diaper - sorta counter-productive with the whole potty-training thing.  Also, he's been climbing out of (and into) his crib a bunch this week.  Therefore, the conversion from crib to toddler bed felt spot on.

Anthony converted it in the morning and Hollis clamored all over it, squealing in delight.  He bounced on the mattress and touched all the tools as Daddy talked about how exciting it was to have a "big boy" bed.  I talked about how once he was put in it he had to stay in it, "Just like Mommy and Daddy do in theirs."  He nodded and clapped his hands and was, what I thought, very sophisticated about it all.

Oh, how wrong I was!  

And it's not a reflection on Hollis, on the contrary, it's a reflection on me and my wildly out of line expectations.  Did I really think I'd be able to baby-whisper him into a bed the first go around?  I read a couple of books to him in the rocker and tucked him in.  I even dragged his book box next to the bed so he wouldn't have to "get up" to get more.

An extremely exciting book (and a glowing Bus-Owl on the dresser).
(Hours since nap time started: 1/2)

 (Hours since nap time started: 1/2)

Note the book box beside the bed (yeah, not a very good idea).
(Hours since nap time started: 1/2)

In the end, he did eventually sleep, but not before I'd completely embarrassed myself.  When I was shouting at him, then apologizing for being cranky, he would just look at me as if to say, "I know how that feels," and then smile gently at me.  I lost all sense of control, of who I was as a parent.  

In the first hour, I felt good: full of energy and ambition.  Hour Two was a little less romantic and I was reduced to "if this/then that" statements.  I struggled mightily with age-appropriate/consequence-appropriate statements, such as, "Hollis, here are the rules.  You can only ever have your blankie and paci IN the bed, not out of it, so if you get out of your bed, you have to leave them here [in the bed]," or "If you touch Bus-Owl, I will turn Bus-Owl off," and "If you open and close the door again, I will take the blankie away for a while."

And then I found myself saying ridiculous things like, "If you get into this drawer again, I will have Daddy change the bed back to a crib."  Yeah - I said that last one in a fit of desperation and hated ever syllable that came out of my mouth.

 (Hours since nap time started: 2 3/4)

 (Hours since nap time started: 3)

Yeah... just wasn't working out.
(Hours since nap time started: 3 1/4)

I threaded all this negativity with lots of encouraging statements like, "I know you can do this!  This is so exciting!" and "I know this is such a great thing!  I'm so excited for you!  I know you're just bursting at the seems!"  I knew how big this was for him.  I knew it was practically like moving to a different country or sticking his hand into [insert gross/dangerous thing here].  I have a feeling that me asking him to fall asleep within the normal amount of time (30 minutes or so) was tantamount to someone asking me to not go shopping immediately after cashing a winning Lotto check.

But ask I did, and answer me he did.  And perfectly.

By the third and fourth hours I was just hanging by a thread.  I thought my face was going to split open and an alien pop out of my face.

In the end he did sleep.  I think I was equally as exhausted as he was.  My back was killing me again, I didn't get to work out (because of the nap time drama), and I felt like the biggest shit on the planet for wantonly expressing every emotion I had to a 2 1/2 year old.  

  So now he's tucked in, but the curtain is pulled back like a canopy.
(Hours since nap time started: 3 1/2)

Who needs a dark room in which to nap??
(Hours since nap time started: 4)

Later that night I literally hissed at Anthony about something and slammed a couple more doors and locked myself in the closet to contemplate my navel.  I don't like feeling like I didn't do my best.  Likewise, I don't like feeling my best wasn't good enough. 

The next day, however, was grand and so was today.  It's as if our ugly interlude never happened and the crib never existed - which, of course, makes me feel worse for even losing my shit like that in the first place since I should have trusted my little guy and his mysterious ways - and we have always slept in beds and napped with freedom to run about the cabin.

A couple of days past all of this and I can now admit that I was under duress due to pain and my own fatigue and that I was seeking order and control from a toddler with entirely different ideas.  Hollis had his own plans for the day and Mommy's fragile ego and self-control be damned, he was going to execute them with delight (and right he should).  His abandon upset my order.  Plain and simple.  I'm really going to have to work at integrating his enthusiasm and energy into my own plans, otherwise I'm looking at a lifetime of shitty days.

Next up, remembering all of this the next time I get tangled up in my desire to control things and lose my shit like a crazy lady under a bridge.

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  1. I had a similar nap time situation with my 2.95 year old today. Except he's been out of the crib for a long time now. Yesterday he didn't nap at all but didn't protest the lay down anyway, which was about the only thing he didn't protest the whole day. Today, he behaved so badly during quiet time, that it became a time-out nap (the bad behavior was because he was so tired) and he stayed in bed yelling at me off and on for several hours mostly "I hadge you Mommy" Now, it's almost actual bed time and he's still taking his nap - but I really couldn't handle the thought of plowing through without one again today.
    I hope you and Hollis get his bed/nap situation worked out quickly!

  2. This is so funny. I love that you documented it. You know a new bed might also spell no more naps. Just sayin'. I hope it goes better next time. :)

  3. Seriously, lady, give yourself a BREAK!!! I find a lot of your posts about how you parent very interesting and inspiring. I think a lot about how I interact with my kids too. But at the same time, I think you need to remember you are human AND not all people will treat Hollis with the uber respect you give him. He will have to learn to navigate a world where sometimes people are overtired and lose their shit. Sometimes those that act in such a way still love them tremendously.

    As for challenging nap times in a big boy bed...we ended up laying down with Zach for a few songs until he nodded off to help get him to take a timely nap. It always seemed to work and it never affected his ability to stay put in bed at night Now, he no longer naps...next up...Caleb.

  4. My own toddler is in the process of giving up his naps, and he's only 21 months. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that neither of my children nap. I thought at least one of them would, for sure, but no dice.

  5. Sometimes I just have to walk away. I will leave him in his bed and just take a moment to calm myself. It also makes him realize I am serious about the nap/ bedtime.

    I do lie with him at naptime. That made the transition out of the crib easier.

    It is hard to sleep when soemthing is so exciting. Glad to hear that he has settled into it.

  6. A friend recently said something on her blog, which shook me up a bit, because I found that it was so true. She said something along the lines of "letting go of the need to be in control is the shortest road to happiness" and how true it is. Mind you, I woulnd't say go with the flow all the time, but I find that it's source of so much upset when I play my control freak card, and I found that when I just let it a be a bit, I'm much more serene.

    Being a Virgo like me, it's not hard to believe you are so hard on yourself!

    As for the toddler bed and lack of sleep... welcome to my world ;-)

  7. Dude, I act like a toddler having a tantrum every single day. No, really. Just ask my husband! I complain and bitch and whine and swear and yell and yell and yell. And then I feel TERRIBLE. But, I do it over and over again! By the way, those picture of Hollis are very cute! And don't sweat it, about the bed transition. He will NOT give up his nap yet, he was just excited about the 'new bed', that's all! I just lie down beside my kids to get them to sleep, all the time, everyday.

  8. Hahahahahah. I laughed so much reading this. I can't wait to get Sophie into her crib again, I'm so tired of sleeping her in a play pen but a certain hubby is procrastinating BIG TIME (seriously, we've lived here over 2 weeks now.)

    You won an award at my blog dear! http://www.thewifeyblogs.com/2010/05/got-love.html

  9. I've got an award for you! http://www.thewifeyblogs.com/2010/05/got-love.html

    Okay and your little man is SO cute, even if he won't nap. Haha.

  10. Contemplating your navel is the best thing I've ever read - I'm going to try it the next time I'm frustrated, which should be any minute now.