In a head fog this afternoon, I’d like to share an account of last night’s sleep with you, because there’s a plant-powered lesson in here somewhere that I think we can all relate to, especially at the end of a long week.
My son (aka my “vegbaby”) is 16 months old, and is at a developmental stage that makes us grateful that his overwhelming degree of cuteness still makes up for his tendencies to terrorize the dogs with his plastic shovels, regularly attempt to defy gravity on the brick fireplace, and scream until it feels like I just stepped outside into the parking lot after leaving a really loud concert.
He’s getting a lot of teeth — although for the record, I can only assume it’s teeth causing all the drool since it’s nearly impossible to pry his mouth open to look in there — and thus not sleeping well again. Also for the record, if you’ve ever Googled ‘sleep regression’, don’t expect to find any solid answers about when this is actually happening, how often or how long it lasts, or how to get through it. With most everything else that is uncertain and challenging about first-time parenthood, it’s just a matter of believing that bittersweet saying, “this too shall pass”. I’m not convinced that one will ever be “done” sleeping training their toddler. But then again, there’s nothing sweeter than cuddling a sleeping baby, even in your own state of zombie exhaustion.
But I digress.
My husband and I usually take turns putting him to sleep, which is especially important for sanity purposes during times when the bedtime routine takes well over an hour. Last night I pardoned my husband of this duty so that he could go to the gym (spouses, give each other a break sometimes). Exhausted vegbaby had fallen asleep during dinner (which he promptly refused and threw all over the floor — thank goodness for dogs that act like Roombas) and so I imagined him continuing to blissfully sleep through the night when I took him upstairs to lay him down in his crib.
This is how last night actually went down:
Took vegbaby upstairs to his room, zipped him up in his cozy pajamas. He instantly woke up, so we rocked in the chair for a while until he stopped flopping around like a fish out of water. This took approximately forty five minutes.
I slowly pried myself out up out of the chair with my 20+ lb tiny furnace and, like a trained ninja, crept on tiptoes over to his crib, strategically avoiding all of the floorboards that are known to creak like a horror movie, still rocking him so that he wouldn’t realize what was about to happen.
I leaned over his crib with a wide berth, still rocking and shushing, cursing myself for attempting to do push-ups earlier that morning, and gently laid him down in his crib. But I know well enough by now not to take my hands off the baby until he stops fidgeting because otherwise, in his half-conscious state, he will notice that he’s not being held anymore.
I then left one warm hand on vegbaby’s head for approximately four minutes until he drifted back to sleep. I can tell when this happens because his pacifier promptly falls out of his mouth.
I slowly removed my arm as if playing one of those money-sucking stuffed animal grabber games at the arcade. Slowly I backed away, breath held, and turned toward the exit.
I took three carefully chosen steps as if navigating a laser-protected museum (remember, floorboards) to the door. Turning to go into the hallway, I breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve made it.
But alas, the last floorboard creaks. Vegbaby wakes. Instantly screaming. Sitting up in his crib. Eyes wide open.
After what seems like months of similar sleepless nights like this, the automatic initial response in my head is: “EXPLETIVE FLOORBOARDS. I WILL BURN THIS HOUSE DOWN.”
Instead, sanity takes one for the team. I walk back into the dark room to console the sweet, crying baby who just wants his mommy and doesn’t mean to deprive me of a restful night’s sleep. I find his pacifier in the dark just like every night before. I take him back to the rocking chair for the hundredth time this week. I start over. I do it all over again. I snuggle him through the night so that he feels comforted, safe, and loved. “This too shall pass.”
Parenting = A never-ending series of trial and error. But always indubitably, insanely worth it.
Also an ongoing trial and error and always insanely worth it = Going plant-based.
When you first make the decision to go plant-based, whatever that looks like for you, it’s usually met with a mixture of feelings: excitement, urgency, anxiety, empowerment, and happiness. You know that you’re doing something totally awesome, even if you don’t have all the answers yet, and you can’t wait to impact your own life and the world around you in a huge way. But there’s suddenly SO MUCH TO DO. When you go plant-based, it’s like the gates of knowledge just fall open and you’re flooded with more information and responsibility than you think you can handle at the time. It’s exhilarating, and also sometimes overwhelming.
You’ll hit bumps. You’ll be challenged. You’ll feel like you’re “not doing it right” or “not doing enough”.
You’ll step on creaky floorboards and have to start over until you find your groove.
Eventually, things will fall into place like they’re supposed to. You’ll look back at your plant-based journey and think, “wow, I’ve come a long way.” You WILL master it and make a difference.
And some of the most meaningful differences you will make may just be during the times when you feel like you want to burn the house down (but please don’t do that).