Sometimes it is too easy to forget why we’re trying to get our children to do certain things, to get so wrapped up in the goal that we forget we want them to do it because we care and love for them so much. I’m just going through another of those moments right now. The enjoyment of the process has turned something that seemed like it would be a chore, something I wasn’t sure we could do, to something I have begun to look forward to every night.
My 4.5 (okay, four and three-quarter) year old little girl has decided she doesn’t want to wear diapers at night anymore. Over the past couple of months we have begun the push to get our twins out of diapers while they sleep. We decreased the amount of water in their sippy cups they kept on their night tables. Then we stopped the water at night altogether. We’ve even tried to encourage them to get up when they need to go to the bathroom and come to our room and we’ll help them to the bathroom. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well. Changing two sets of sheets at 3:30 in the morning was not a fun way to start the day – for any of us. Fortunately, Jordyn refused to give up. Much like her Daddy I am proud to say, once my little girl makes up her mind, she makes a commitment to achieving her goal. She has decided she only wants to wear underpants at night and she is doing whatever it takes to make that happen.
And so am I.
We decided, after talking to our pediatrician, that we should wake her up before we went to bed and take her to the bathroom. I took that responsibility on and for the past three nights I have woken my little girl up at 11:00 or so at night and taken her to the bathroom.
I first thought this was not going to be fun. I worried about whether she want to be woken up. Would this just be another fight? Would we wake up her brother sleeping in the other bed in their room? I worried how it would affect her sleep. Would she be able to fall asleep afterwards? Would she want me to stay with her? If Jordyn doesn’t get enough sleep we all suffer so her sleep is especially important.
The first night I gently woke her up.
“Jordyn. Come on. Let’s go to the bathroom.”
She popped up out of bed. “Okay, Daddy.” She was ready. We held hands down the hall to the bathroom and held hands on the way back. She crawled into bed and fell fast asleep before I was even out the door, I think.
The second night she was more tired, but did very well. More hand holding and I even got to hear one more “I love you” as I walked out of their room.
Last night she was so tired that I picked her up out of bed. I have to tell you, one of the greatest feelings as a father, in my life, is feeling my little girl mold her body to mine when she is tired. She wraps her arms and legs around my body, puts her head on my shoulder, and melts into me. It is a feeling of closeness like I have never felt before. It was so wonderful I barely even felt her weight as I carried her down the hall.
She went to the bathroom and afterwards I offered to carry her back. She didn’t say anything, but after she dried her hands, she reached her hands up to me. I gladly picked her up and carried her back to her bed.
“I love you, Sweetie Girl.”
“I love you, too, Daddy,” and she fell asleep.
I thought it would be such a hassle to wake her up to try and get her to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, another thing for me to remember before I go to bed at night. Instead not only am I helping my little girl achieve something she really wants – to wear underpants at night – but I also get one more cuddle, one more special, intimate moment with her.
And there can never be too many of those.
Image credit: Sandi Hanna, SXC
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.