Change is Hard

Tiny-Small and her big girl bed.

Change is hard. Even when you are two. Last night we took the railing off of Tiny-Small’s crib and turned it into a “big girl” bed. At first she was ecstatic. She climbed in and out of it. She pretended to be asleep and then to wake up…over and over and over again. She wanted to sit in her bed and drink. She wanted to eat in her bed. I said no to that one. It all seemed to be going smoothly. It was going way too easily, actually, which should have set off some alarm bells in my head, now that I am looking back on it.

Last night when Tiny-Small went to bed she cried. She said she was scared. She didn’t want to fall out. She missed the railings. She wanted her bed back like it had always been. I had put one of those pool noodles under her sheets to act as a sort of soft railing on the open side. I’d seen that genius idea on Pinterest. It doesn’t work, by the way, so don’t bother buying a pool noodle for your toddlers bed. It wasn’t as genius as it seemed. I sat with her until she got sleepy and told her she would be fine. That the noodle would keep her from falling out. She finally fell asleep. She trusted me. She believed I knew what I was doing.

An hour later we heard a loud crash followed by crying. We ran into Tiny Small’s room and found her crying by the door. She had fallen out. She was scared. I felt horrible. I’d pretty much promised she would be safe. I knew my promise was not going to have the same weight it once did. We comforted her as best as we could and got her back in bed. She wanted the rails back on. So, we got out the tools and put the railing back on. We told her we’d try again later. She fell asleep immediately. All of her anxiety was gone.

Tiny-Small doesn’t like change. Change is hard for her. She needs several warnings before change occurs and she needs a lot of time to adjust once a change is made. She also needs to understand how the change is beneficial to her before she fully embraces it. All of this takes time and patience. We’ve been potty training for a while now. She has the concept down. She can use the potty like an expert. The problem is she doesn’t always want to. Sometimes she wants the comfort of doing things the old way. Sometimes she just wants her diaper back on.

As her parent, I want to tell people she is sleeping in her big girl bed and beam with pride at her accomplishments and my ability to parent my child. I want to stop buying diapers and brag about how she practically potty trained herself. As a human being, I am trying to respect the process she needs to go through to accept these changes. I am trying to allow her the time and space to adjust and to grow up at her own pace. She needs to get comfortable with new things. I am trying to put my competitive nature aside and to follow her lead.

I question my choices daily. Am I being too easy on her? Should I have higher expectations? Is she going to struggle as an adult because it takes her so long to change? Would my forcing her to change really make her better at it? Am I being a bad parent by letting her set the pace for her learning? Would I be a bad parent if I didn’t?

Change is hard. It’s hard for me too. I grew up in an authoritarian home. I was afraid of my parents. I wasn’t given time to adjust to change or to the demands placed on me. My feelings and opinions did not count in decision-making. As an adult, with these life experiences, I’ve made the decision to be more of an authoritative parent. I have to stay conscious of this decision at all times because in times of stress it is easy to revert back to the models you grew up with. It’s easy to become impatient, bossy, and demanding. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that my daughter is a person with thoughts and feelings of her own. That her developmental progress (or sometimes lack of it) is not a reflection of me. That I cannot take credit for her above average vocabulary any more than I can take credit for her slow acceptance of using the potty.

At the same time I worry about becoming too permissive of a parent. Am I letting Tiny-Small call too many shots? Is using the potty or sleeping in a certain kind of bed something I should have a lot of rules about? It gets a little murky at times. I mean, should I expect her to grow up faster than she wants to? Some people will say yes. Some people will tell me to throw away the diapers and remove the crib railing. To let her rage and cry and work through her anxiety. That she will emerge stronger and with more confidence on the other side. Some will say to let her accept these changes in her own time. That forcing it won’t work. That she will do it happily when she is ready. That allowing her to do these things at her own pace will help her build confidence in her ability to learn new things, help her have more self-acceptance and help her learn to trust her own judgement.

I guess I fall more on the side of letting things happen naturally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t question my choices or my motives at every turn. I still worry about being a parent and doing the right thing. Am I just being lazy because it is easier to let her figure things out in her own time? Do I just want to reduce her crying or shield her from stress and pain? Am I being a dreaded helicopter parent by rescuing her from her own anxiety? I don’t always trust my own judgement as much as I should. Of course, that is a symptom of growing up in an authoritarian home. I want my daughter to grow up with more confidence and to trust her own instincts more than I do. I want her to be more secure in her own person than I am.

I just hope that the fact that I grapple with these ideas about parenting mean something. That by actually thinking about it I will be a good parent. That I will do the right thing and make mostly good decisions. That my daughter will grow up happy, and strong, and capable.

I will probably always have anxiety about parenthood. I’m a lot like Tiny-Small. It takes me a while to adjust. Change is hard for me too. Maybe by the time she is 25 I will have more confidence in my own decision making and embrace the parenting style I have chosen with open arms and few regrets.


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27 thoughts on “Change is Hard”

  1. There is a fine line between being too permissive and letting her mature at her own pace. That line changes from family to family and is all mixed up with personalities and upbringing and baggage.

    Once you and Tiny small and Jim are happy with the balance in your home my all-time favourite parenting motto comes into play – do whatever works; if it stops working change it.

    I did think of writing a slightly judgy post about how we do things in my house, but it wouldn’t be of any use to you and neither witty nor charming!

    1. That line is what has me worried. I haven’t quite figured out where it is yet. Thanks for not writing a slightly judgy post, although I can totally relate to having the urge! 🙂

  2. Your daughter is still young. When she is ready she will let you know. We tried to potty train and we ended up doing it too early. Right now at 3.5 she is back going to the potty at school and sometimes at the house. But we had to put her back in diapers. I am not one bit concernded right now. I know she wont go to kindergarten in a diaper. I really believe kids can be stubborn and they dont like to do things until they are good and ready. Also we are FINALLY getting her a big girl bed at 3.5. She has been fine in her crib and never climbed out. I didnt want to disrupt her good sleeping habits. Finally she came to us and told us she was ready for a big girl bed.

    I am on vacation right now in Florida and the first night she slept with me in a full bed and fell out. I felt so so bad for her. Now that we are at my mothers house we took the twin mattress off the bed and put it on the floor in between two twin beds and lined the sides with couch pillows. Perhaps lay some pillows below the crib or even put the crib mattress on the floor. Just an idea. I hope I am not over stepping by giving advice. You are a wonderful mother and I know you will do whats best for Tiny Small. I love that you call her that by the way:)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I feel less alone! My mom keeps telling me not all kids are potty trained by age three. It’s good to know she is not just saying that to make me feel better. My daughter is probably going to be a late bloomer. My husband and I sure are!

  3. I was always supportive of the “things come naturally” idea, too. But there are few things I am strict about, and one of them was the bed problems, too. Well, my situation is kinda different, as the little ones came into my life as a result of life being cruel and unfair. Nonetheless, I had to play the role of a parent completely unprepared and sometimes I blame it for my honest mistakes. My niece would scream and cry that she wants to sleep in my bed, not alone in hers. I agreed once or twice but then it just had to stop; I wasn’t sleeping well and I use my bedroom as a office late in the night and I go to sleep around 3 a.m. So it wasn’t healthy for her either. I was strict and even though a few times after saying “no” I had to hide and cry after seeing her sad face it worked. Every parent knows their kid the best – if you know for sure that Tiny-Small isn’t just trying to get all the attention on her but that she is really scared than just let it be.

    1. She doesn’t like sleeping with us anymore. I’m lad we are not struggling with that on top of everything else!

      I think she was scared because really, she could have just gotten out of bed and came into the living room to get attention. She was afraid she would fall out and then she did. I guess she was smart to be afraid! We’ll try again in a few weeks. Right now I am just going to enjoy not having to worry about her because she is safe in her crib.

        1. Thank you…we need all of the help we can get. A friend of mine showed me a way to alter a playpen into a little bed and I might try that. When she falls out she will only fall a few inches.

  4. I think she’s pretty lucky to have a mom who cares so much and understands her so well. That’s probably the biggest indicator that she’ll be ok. I struggle with all the same questions about my parenting, but I’m doing my best and what I lack in perfection I make up for in bear hugs and a delicious PB&J.

    1. That’s what I keep hoping. That the more I worry the less she will have to. I’m probably just crazy. Oh well, at least I tried really, really hard at being crazy, right?

      Doing our best is all we can do. I secretly love PB&J.

  5. The Four Noble Truths as said by the Buddha:
    1. “Life is Suffering.”
    2. “Suffering Sucks!” (or something like that)
    3. “There is a way out.”
    4. “Meditate, Meditate, Meditate”

    Good advice for parents of toddlers 😉

      1. Yah, and the best made plans of mice and men come to naught! We think we want freedom; then we fall out of bed. So we become addicted to security; have a ‘safety net’ everywhere as if that will solve our problems. Big government, insurance companies, unions are happy to step in to provide ‘security’.
        Better to give up the crybaby tantrum and develop the ability to fall out of bed and laugh. Of course a 2 year old doesn’t get this. In time, hopefully they will 🙂

  6. i swear we were separated at birth, sweet mama! i read your blog and hear myself.
    anyhow, here’s my mama advice to you…
    no two families are the same and what works for others may not work for you. you, YOU MAMA, you know your child best and if she needs time or railings or extra hugs or whatever, then you know when and how much to give to her. let your instincts guide you. sure ask for advice and read books, but only take what feels right and even then be flexible.
    and mama… give yourself some credit here. look at that adorable little girl and think of all the things she does do and has accomplished and is working on. growing and mothering IS NOT A COMPETITION!!!!!!! it’s all a process and you guys are doing great!!!!

    i will be toasting you this evening when i have my drink and ice cream!
    cheers to lillian for being FABULOUS!

  7. oy. this is so hard on us all… you’re doing a great job, Lil. TS’s ability and safety in melting down shows she feels secure with you. that’s huge.

    beds… i let them cry it out until 7 months; it was brutal at the time, but i’m glad in retrospect. hardware: we had a twin mattress on the floor next to the crib and kept the railing down. then when they were ready, they said when to get rid of the crib. the room was nuts for a while, but we kept the twin on a trundle so it wouldn’t get filthy and eventually, they determined that they could have more “guys” on their twin beds than in their crib. when each successive brother came along, the big brother said, “i don’t need this baby bed anymore, it’s for my brother now…” even though baby was in a basinet until five months old. the key for us was getting him to see the way things end up, not how they had to be. and once he was ready, it was time.

    for bad dreams and anxiety, we offer the floor on my side of the bed. T3 uses the privilege about 3x a month at the most. lately, it’s become a little more. something’s up for him and we just let him know we’re here. (as they age and mature that’s the key: just letting them know the “door” is always open.)

    potty… as you know, i have only boys. we tried target practice on the tree out back, they loved that, but it didn’t stick in practice. but i tried to force it along and it was nothing but agony. once i gave up, they were ready. it’s like the bed… they need to see how things will eventually end up. it’s up to them. TS will likely start to see peer groups doing things and this is when peer pressure is a good thing(!). all of my guys were in diapers until 3. then with preschool, we did pull-ups which they loved. they eventually jumped on the bus. they are all successfully potty trained now. 😀

    TS will be fine. remember to breathe and that this is your first rodeo and hers too. as long as you’re OK with it, she will feel safe when she’s ready, but yes… the diapers can be a long time. it just feels like an eternity.

    with my youngest in his last 6 months before he leaves the single digits forever… i’ll go ahead and say it: i wouldn’t mind having him on my hip again. :/

    you have inspired me, so i’m giving you an award. just kidding. you’ve inspired me to move forward with my post about where i am with the team. parenting is hard. we must wear so many hats.

    be good to yourself. one day this will be vapor. xo

  8. Go with your gut, lady, and you (and Tiny-Small) will be FINE. I promise. Stop worrying about all the experts and trends in parenting – they change weekly.

    On a related note, my two older boys would fall out of bed all the time but because they were such sound sleepers, they NEVER WOKE UP. We’d hear a “thunk” and go check it out only to find the boys snoring away on the floor. Joey? He’s a whole ‘nuther story…

    1. I wish I could sleep through falling out of bed! That seems like it might be a nice skill to have.

      I stop worrying for a while and then it creeps back in. Darn parenthood!

  9. you’re a good mom to think about your child’s feelings in all this!! Is it possible to have the railings positioned a quarter of the way up so that even if she moves at night, she won’t fall down? A lot of kids are very restless at night even in their sleep! My older one also fell out of bed and we found him snugly curled on the carpet still sleeping!!

    1. She has one of those cribs with railings that don’t move. I guess that is the newest safety feature. I think she rolls around a lot when she is sleeping. I know I did as a kid! We’ll figure something out eventually.

  10. It’s so hard to know what to do. Good news is, there is rarely one right answer. We just figure out what works best. Kids are resilient and will get over whatever mistakes we make. You are doing a lovely job raising your daughter.
    An idea for the bed: Get rid of the bed altogether and have her sleep on a mattress on the floor. We did it with all of our kids when they first switched to big beds. Rolling out of bed doesn’t hurt at all. Once they get the hang of it, we put the mattress on the rails.
    Good luck.

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