January 24, 2010
by Emma Aguirre
Last weekend presented quite a challenge for us. We were throwing our first party in our home since my daughter was born and I was really worried about how she would handle it. And it was GRANDMA’S birthday party, so the question of whether to keep our little one awake or not became an even bigger one.
Since we are still learning our new schedule – all of us – I decided that she should go to bed, and prayed that she would stay there. I made a big mistake by having the party start at 6:30pm…I just wasn’t thinking. At the time we arranged the party she was still going down around 7, so I figured she could say hello and one of us would put my daughter to bed (looking back on it, that too may not have been the smartest thing. I know I wouldn’t want to go to bed!). But with the new earlier bedtime, it was a little more difficult. At 5:30 I had to start her routine and leave my husband and his cousin to the finishing details , which as a control freak, killed me. Nonetheless, by 6:30, I was getting ready, finally. We moved the video monitor into the living room and she was quite the entertainment. My husband had to calm her once, and she stayed in bed for the rest of the evening.
I could not have been prouder. It’s not that I didn’t think she could do it, I was nervous about my own response. I didn’t want to get flustered and I really didn’t want her being passed from person to person when she should be in bed, especially with the chilly weather we’re having. She did fantastically, but that doesn’t mean to say she wasn’t restless. She tossed and turned and I nearly went into the nursery a few times. I felt so guilty interrupting her sleep like this. Guests watched and told us “She’s awake” and “she’s moving,” but we stayed calm and just let her drift back off. Having her fall back to sleep on her own is such an important lesson. Our guests were so impressed and thankfully, they were all very respectful of the “no peeking” rule.
That doesn’t mean I was fixated on having her stay in bed. Had she gotten upset or fussy I would have absolutely brought her out. And I do think breaking the routine every now and then is ok, and as I’ve said, flexibility with a child, is so key. But this coming weekend we are taking her out of town for the first time, so I didn’t want to push it. (As a side note, I’m also eager to go out to dinner with her on a weekday night when we don’t have a sitter…I figure putting her in her PJs and car seat, she may just go to sleep. She’s great at breakfast and lunch, but we have yet to try dinner.)
As I sat in the nursery feeding my daughter, I could hear the clanging around in the kitchen before the party started. For a few moments I thought to myself, “I hope they are putting the beef skewers on the Pottery Barn platter,” and “I hope they heated up the roasted salsa correctly.” But then I caught my daughter’s eye and I was brought back to the moment. She was so happy. I could have hidden in that room all night with her lying in my arms. After a day of frantically setting up and weeks of organizing, my daughter’s gaze was able bring me from a frantic, stressed place to a very calm and peaceful state of mind. No one tells you just how much these little ones can teach us about perspective. I want to remember that moment forever.