On the Other Side of the Door

Dear Lucy,

In March of last year, Big Red took down your crib and I transformed your nursery into a big girl room, the hallmark of which was a twin bed. You loved it. There were little, if any, bumps in trying to convince you to sleep in the new bed. In fact, I don't recall anything at all.

And then three and a half months later we went to California for two weeks in which the three of us, me, you, and Nana, slept together in one bed. Upon return to your room, you decided sleeping alone wasn't cool anymore, so into our bed you migrated. You stayed there until your third birthday, in October, when I created this elaborate scheme to get you back into your own bed. Luna your personal fairy arrived, replete with a fairy door, and a picture of the two of you together while you were sleeping (thanks, Photoshop). Luna also left you a letter in which she explained that she would watch over you as you slept, and that three year-olds are brave and sleep in their own beds. She also left you a new night light that projected stars on your ceiling.

It was a hit, and back into your bed you went.

Until the novelty wore off, and somehow I found you right back at my side again a few months later. Shadows you said. You needed me, you said.

You needed me.

To feel needed is sublime. To know that my presence has the power to cure all your fears is, frankly, intoxicating. You and I both love Wonder Woman, and it's in these moments that I actually feel as powerful. I was never ashamed of the co-sleeping, and I enjoyed sleeping next your warm body. It was equal parts survival and IDGAF. It was, for the time being, working.

Then it wasn't. For a while we dealt with the tossing and turning, kneeing Big Red, and landing elbows on my nose. We were losing sleep. And then it got dramatically worse: you decided the act of going to sleep, at all, was purgatory, and by doing so, took us with you into the pit of hell.

Every single night was an ongoing battle to go to bed. Gone were the calm evenings of stories and songs. In their place were tears and screaming. We bargained, we pleaded. In our worst moments we stomped away frustrated, we yelled. I became angry that I was losing my nights to your hysterics. My darling, I love you in ways words cannot even touch, and yet in those moments, I wanted to mute your cries, to teleport myself out of our sweet home and into someplace, anyplace else. Some nights I was able to call up the patience that you required, and I saw you for exactly what you were: a little girl who felt safe at her mama's side. I would repeat to myself, a mantra: this is what she needs right now, lay with her, it's just a phase, you'll miss this when it's gone. That would get me through a few evenings, but surely as still waters run deep, that ball of anger and frustration would gurgle and rise like a geyser. Again I'd be all rage and fury.

Earlier this month, Big Red and I spoke after a particularly difficult evening and agreed it was time to help you back into your bed. We would draw a line in the sand upon our return from our annual trip to California. I would be as transparent as possible, and we would hold our ground. And by golly it worked. The day you went back into your bed, I told you what would be happening, and true to form, you responded with angry tears and arms crossed over your chest. Proclamations of I WILL NOT! filled our house. I explained there'd be a prize for which to work, which seemed to help.

As the day progressed, I remind you of what would happen. That night we read books, sang songs, and chatted. You asked if I would be in my bed. I explained that I'd be downstairs with Daddy, but eventually I'd go to bed, just like you were doing, and I'd be on the other side of your door.

You have successfully been in your bed since.

The last night you slept in our bed, I watched you and was drawn to the pulse in your neck. The way the rush of blood, sweeping back and forth, made the skin leap up and down. I tried to remain as present as possible, not projecting what would happen the next night, if it would work or not, but rather just being your mama, next to you. You are a fiery, independent, strong-willed little girl, Lucy. In those moments as my eyes traversed the beautiful contours of your perfect face, I thought about how I could best support you. Not just in that hour, but as you continue to grow into yourself, whatever self evolves. I asked myself how to always remain a reflective mama so as not to stand in your way, to never unintentionally clip those dazzling wings. My girl, light always finds you, and I never want to be the one who casts a shadow.

As I wrote earlier, it's absolutely marvelous to feel needed. There will come a day though, when your need for me will change. But darling - you take the lead. I will follow as you are not mine to hold onto; you are your own. Know though, that I am always here, your soft place to fall, just on the other side of the door.

Love, Mama

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