Memories of an Almost 4 Year Old

Lucy has gotten to an age that I remember being as a child. I remember being 3, but even more 4. She is now going through some developmental milestones that I remember vividly.

She’s recently become very afraid of the dark. She used to sleep in a dark room, with a night light, a white noise machine, and the door closed. About a year ago, she started asking for the door to be left open-we did that-no problem. When we moved, the bigness and newness of the new house scared her so we would leave the hall light on, on low. She did great and even started going to the bathroom at night with no help from us. In the past few weeks the dark has legitimately freaked her out. To many people this could seem like a ploy not to sleep, or a ploy to get attention. But, I know it’s not. I distinctly remember feeling and acting the way she has been. My parents treated it like a ploy not to sleep or to get attention. I remember sitting in my bed, scared shitless, and being told to get over it. We always had the hall light on but even that freaked me out. I can still remember my Dad and Mom’s tired voices telling me to go to sleep and that my room was not scary and that I was being a baby. I remember laying there trying my hardest not to feel scared, not to wake them up, and not to cry. I was still scared shitless. My parents were NOT bad parents, they were awesome parents. They were doing what they thought was best. They were tired parents with 4 kids and super busy lives and they needed sleep. I probably never was afraid of the dark before so when I started acting like I was (right at an age where you start to realize that you can manipulate people-and do manipulate people) they believed I wasn’t scared when I legitimately was.

So tonight when Lu woke us up for the third time and my alarm was set for 4:45 to get back in the gym routine, and I was bone ass tired, and I heard myself saying the same things that my parents said to me at 4, and I heard the fear in my daughter’s voice that I felt when I was her age-I decided that the gym isn’t more important than my daughter feeling safe. I decided to come into her room and talk to her about her fears and lay with her to help her fall asleep. I decided to give her kisses and hugs and try to reassure her.

Am I worried that this will become a pattern? You betcha! So starting tomorrow, we’re brainstorming what will make her feel safe at night and will keep her in bed and won’t wake us up and we’re doing whatever that is (it can’t be Mommy sleeping with her though). Then we’re doing a sticker chart. If she does 10 consecutive nights without waking us up, she gets to go pick something out to help her sleep. A new lamp, or a new nightlight, or a new lovey. Something to get her past this fear.

I still, to this day, will turn on lights when I can’t sleep and it makes me fall asleep. When I was a teenager, I fell asleep every night with all the lights in my room blazing. My brother or Dad, and sometimes Mom, would come in and turn my light off every night. I had to retrain myself in college to not fall asleep this way. I still fall asleep with the lights on quite often and Shaun has to turn them off. I’m not afraid of the dark anymore but I prefer sleeping in the light- it makes me feel safe and secure.

Tomorrow, when I’m a walking zombie, please remind me that I’m just trying my best to be a good Mommy and that this is worth it. It is, right?

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