When our first kid was born, someone gave us a glider. It was comfortable, with dark wooden arms and soft white cushions.
We rocked it into the ground.
This is not a metaphor. I spent so many hours, thousands of hours, in that glider, that it eventually fell apart.
At one point, my husband had given me a fit bit for Christmas. I pretty regularly hit the 10,000 recommended steps a day with little effort. That is, until I realized my fit bit was counting every time I rocked in the chair as a step. So while I wasn’t getting any fitter, I did learn I was spending about two miles per day in that chair.
I’ve got a confession: Those weren’t my favorite two miles of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I love rocking babies. I just don’t love rocking babies to sleep.
My children fight sleep like it’s coming to take away their Halloween candy. (Which to be fair, I do steal their Halloween candy when they’re asleep). But ever since they were babies they have fought the good fight. They writhe, they fuss, they scratch, they stick their fingers in my mouth, they fart defiantly.
(I didn’t know you could fart defiantly but if you saw the look my daughter gave me this morning, you too would know it is a thing.)
The answer to this situation is obvious – stop rocking them to sleep. This would also solve the “OMG we are traveling to somewhere without a rocking chair” panic attack we have biannually when we dare to leave our house. And for those who are blessed in the parenting skills department, that would work. We could cry it out, or pull them in to bed with us, and they would sleep happily ever after.
Theoretically anyway. We are 3/3 with that not working.
Plus there is another problem with not rocking our babies to sleep.
Once they’ve explored every inch of my face with their fingers, bitten me repeatedly (yep), and shot liquid out of every orifice in an attempt to evade their nap, something happens. They collapse into a heavy and warm pile of exhaustion.
And suddenly, I move from desperately wanting to get out of the rocking chair and actually do something with my life to wanting to be nowhere else in the world.
As I write this, my daughter has lost her battle of wills, and is snuggled into the crook of my arm. I know I should get up. I should lay her down soon so she gets used to sleeping in her crib. I should turn off the TV my older kid is watching and go sweep or dust or vacuum something.
But she’s warm, and soft, and the littlest she’ll ever be again. So I’ll rock her for a few more miles.
One day, when my oldest son was a few months older than the baby is now, I was trying to rock him to sleep. Frustrated at his fighting, I finally set him down on the ground. He laughed, and toddled over to his crib. I put him in it and laid him down. Five minutes later he was snoring.
And that was that.
I don’t know when she will no longer need – or want – me to rock her to sleep. Some days I pray it’s sooner. Some days I pray it’s later.
But for now, we’ll rock.