rocking a toddler to sleep

1:03 pm. 

The one o' clock hour is much anticipated in this house; it marks not only the beginning of nap time, but the halfway point in the day. 6 hours up, and 6 hours till bedtime. We're in the homestretch. We've got this. All I have to do is put the baby to sleep and dive into that steaming mug of coffee and library book waiting on the coffee table. After that, just a few short hours until the trifecta of dinner, bath, and bed. I summon the energy despite my yawning.

I fill up the pink raindrop humidifier and turn it on. The blinds are down, the curtains are closed, the pink and purple blocks back in their bag. The toddler crawls up the stairs, and after a quick diaper change, climbs on my lap as we sit in the white, wooden rocking chair. She's holding a knitting bag, a plastic piece of cheese from her play kitchen, an unsharpened pencil, a Mickey Mouse book that days later will be covered in green scribbles and ripped to shreds as protest against a nap, a spoon, an orange Ikea cat rattle, a thick grey string stolen from a hoodie, Pooh Bear, and a hand-sewn doll. All of these have been deemed treasures and essential to the cause. She's leaving no man behind. Try to take one or hide one, and she'll notice. There will be a roll call the second you lay her in the crib, and answers will be demanded, punishments doled out. There is no mercy when it comes to missing toys. She's also wearing her red hat that is slowly starting to smell like wet dog. It scratches my chin as she snuggles her head against my chest.

I start rocking as she wraps her arms around me, consequentially scraping my chest with the edge of her Little Golden Book and wielding an unsharpened pencil dangerously close to my eye. She asks me to sing, and I start into the first verse of Amazing Grace when I'm suddenly interrupted.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound--"

"Uh oh! Uh oh hat! Uh oh!"

I look down, and her red hat is sitting by my left foot. I pick it up, and she flounces it atop her head but drops her spoon in the process.

"Uh oh spoon! Fall down! Uh oh spoon!" 

We pick up the spoon, and I start singing again.

"that saved a wretch like me, I---"

"Me Mouse? Me Mouse? Uh oh Me Mouse!"

Mickey found himself wedged between my right thigh and the chair rail, poor chap. I set him free, but she drops 5 of her treasures as she reaches to grasp her beloved Mickey book that she will later destroy in a violent battle. We reconfigure and reconvene, and by nothing other than amazing grace, I finish singing Amazing Grace without further interruptions. 

"Jesus loves me this I know, for the--"

"Brush? Brush? Brush? Brush? Brush? Brush? Brush? Brush?

She spotted her hairbrush on the bookshelf, and urgently wiggles herself down to go grab it. There will be no nap without the hairbrush. I know it's ridiculous, but at this point I would let her sleep with a gallon of paint in her crib if it meant a few minutes of quiet. She hops back up, and we negotiate the  toy situation. She won't give any up, but she does agree to let me hold the knitting bag, book, pencil, and kitty cat rattle. With all four of our hands full, we rock. I sing. I close my eyes as my singing is on autopilot by this point, and I imagine what it would feel like to be rocked to sleep every day. Every so often, she moves her head to look up at me and smile. The dirty, rigid, scratchy felt of her red hat scrapes my chin every time like sandpaper. 

"When peace like a river attendenth my way," I quietly, sleepily drone.

She knows this song and loves to sing it with me. She looks up at me, smiling, but all she sees is my head against the back of the chair and my mouth wide open. 

At least one of us is asleep.


  1. Hahaha, you poor thing. Sounds like you need to petition James to start rocking you to sleep at night.

  2. Proof that all toddlers are hoarders and surprisingly effective at stall tactics.

    At least one of you had a nice nap.

    So good.

  3. Loved this post. Have rocked my children to sleep so many times and your post is exactly how it goes! Loved it!

  4. I love it! I have put myself to sleep numerous times while a child is awake in my arms.

  5. this is so silly and such a taste of motherhood. the sleep issue is such an issue. we still nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime. I have no idea how to do any different and I am glad it works for me for now... because getting a toddler to sleep is no easy task. One day I think he'll stop nursing and how will I get him to sleep? Hopefully he understands "go to bed" by that point. O_o

    1. We used to do that a lot too, and still do on bad days. Rocking rarely puts her to sleep unless she skipped her nap, but it's a ritual we both love. Usually she just talks to her sleep.

  6. Hahah this is so sweet. As exhausted as I'm sure you are, I know how much you'll treasure these little moments when you look back on them :) Gracie is one lucky little gal to have you as her momma!


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