Yesterday I took the children on a short road trip to visit a friend and her family and to go to a 3-day conference for families who home school. This will be our first year home schooling, and I was excited to learn and gear up for the upcoming school year.
We got off to a promising start: the drive thru employee at Chick Fil A mistook my order for a boring diet Dr. Pepper for a delicious Chocolate Milk Shake. I had gorgeous views of the sun setting for most of my drive and the kids did pretty well in the car (a rarity for us.) We arrived safely and I was happy to see my friend.
The trouble started at bedtime.
The big boys went to bed okay. LLM was being a pest while in the same room with them so I moved him into the room with Baby Girl and me and he settled down pretty quickly.
But when it came time to lay BG down for bed, she became increasingly manic and could not settle down. This happens every so often with her, particularly when we are in a new place. But I was happy to be spending time with my friend and BG was being adorable so I wasn’t getting too stressed about it. I mean, she had to settle down and sleep at some point, RIGHT?!
Except that she never did. She dozed off a few times between midnight and 4 am, but never really slept. Which means, neither did I. At 4am, fearful she’d wake LLM for the day, I took her downstairs and we passed the time playing kitchen and baby dolls while I intermittently nodded off and worried about the day ahead.
Around 8am, we all headed off to the conference, and Baby Girl promptly nodded off in the car.
While I attended the conference, the boys went to camp and BG went to nursery. Drop offs to camp and nursery went smoothly and I was only called out once to help LLM with a nosebleed/tantrum.
But all day I was growing more and more anxious about the night to come. When BG has extreme trouble sleeping, it often happens for a few days in a row. You’d think she’d crash at some point, but you’d be wrong. Hyper-vigilance is no joke. Even though we’ve had her since she was less than 3 months old, sometimes my Baby Girl just can’t settle down and feel safe. There was no guarantee she’d sleep any better the second night, and I didn’t think I could handle another night with no sleep.
And while LLM had an unusually good day on the day we packed and drove out, and an okay-for-him day at the conference, there was no guarantee that would continue. I couldn’t imagine another sleepless night, a cranky toddler, and LLM having his typical troubles.
So I left.
I told my friends I was heading home, packed up the kids, went to my car, and held back tears til we made it to the interstate.
I felt tired. So tired, but I was also proud.
I was proud that I set my limit before my breaking point.
Today I needed to fail and be okay with it, rather than push through and “succeed.”
I needed to accept my children’s limitations, and not begrudge them.
Could I have stayed? Probably. I’m pretty accustomed to being tired and anxious, but white knuckling motherhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
And when I stopped just trying to push through, when I accepted where we were instead of wishing for where we could be, I noticed some amazing things:
My child with Aspergers said to me, “Sorry you have to hold everything” when he noticed I was loaded down with bags and water bottles when all the kids went to the bathroom. Unprompted empathy is a BIG DEAL around here.
I saw LLM handing Baby Girl veggie straws in the back seat. Unprompted kindness is a BIG DEAL around here.
My super social six year-old who I knew would be upset not to spend two more nights with his friends said to me when I explained that we were going home early, “That’s okay! You never know what’s going to happen so you gotta be okay with whatever does!” Going with the flow is a BIG DEAL around here.
Today I saw my children differently. Instead of seeing who they aren’t, I honored who they are. And they are amazing.
Today, what I left doesn’t compare to what I gained.
Now… off to get some sleep!