This boy. Oh, this boy.
Before his grand entrance into the world, I’d made plans for this boy. I know what you’re thinking – I should have learned from the other two after plans were delayed, changed, thrown out, shattered, and reformed. But, nonetheless, I made plans for him. He would be a happy-go-lucky youngest child; relaxed; a good sleeper akin to his brother, we’d go on vacation – like in a hotel – the summer after he turned one. Then constant spitting up, reflux, eczema, allergies, intolerances, up-all-night-crying (both of us) happened and his demanding personality intensified as he announced loudly that my plans were, once again, changing. Sigh.
I don’t take changes well. I ignore them, try to control or negotiate them, rebel against them.
I grieve change.
So I pretended Andrew was my easy going third child. When that didn’t work, I turned to the baby books, obsessed over expert blogs, begged advice from friends and family, all but fell at the feet of our family doctor. We tried it all. Nothing worked. As a last resort we listened to Andrew scream for HOURS at night in an effort to let him learn how to self soothe. For two straight weeks.
It didn’t work. It didn’t even help a little. In fact, it tanked quickly.
He started waking up more frequently, his separation anxiety spiraled out of control, he became hyper vigilant, and started frantically waking 45 minutes into his naps. It also did a number on our older kids. They became anxious about bedtime and couldn’t sleep at night. Overtired days overtook our entire family until I couldn’t take it anymore.
After stumbling upon an article on kids’ temperaments and how they can affect, among other things, sleep it dawned on me that my plans and conventional wisdom weren’t working because he isn’t a conventional baby. He doesn’t need as much sleep, he operates at a level 10 ALL THE TIME, he doesn’t just ask for something but demands it – loudly. So, so loudly. He’s particular and persistent and persistently demanding all the things he’s particular about. Like his mom, he is hyper sensitive to changes in his environment. And he can’t ignore, doesn’t have the skills to negotiate, and so rebels.
I had assigned him a personality at birth and was continuing to see him through that lense and then act upon those assumptions instead of seeing him for who he is. And as I settled into that reality, I threw the books out the window, stopped searching Dr. Google, and found a few moms to vent to who would listen, sparing judgment because my almost 1 year old still needs help getting to and staying asleep – and not because we haven’t tried, or read, or researched, or charted, or scheduled, or cried it out. We’ve done all of those things, and more.
But because that’s who he is. And that’s who he will continue to be.
I know this because I now see our older two and their temperaments as babies match perfectly with who they are today. Natalie in her first years was also hyper sensitive to changes, on the go, demanding and fussy. As an older kid this has blossomed into empathy, conscientiousness, dedication, and strong communication skills. Isaiah, the polar opposite, was relaxed, snuggly, go-with-the-flow, a little oblivious, and fell asleep anywhere. And that still fits him perfectly.
And Andrew will continue to be exactly who he is.
And I can’t control any of it. And that drives me nuts. And it’s beautiful. Because they are wonderfully and fearfully created, and our family is blessed, so, so blessed, by their presence.