Tonight marks a monumental night in my household. It is the first night in 4 years where my 4 and almost 3 year old will go to bed with no milk cup.
Yes, my deepest, darkest secret is out. I put my kids to bed with milk.
I know it’s bad, I know it’s wrong and I know it is out of control. Because it is not just one cup when they go to bed. They actually get up in the night, ask for more, and get it. Sarah was, at one time, up to 4 cups a night. Full cups. 16 ounces per cup. Four times a night.
It was my easy solution. Their comfort items and our standard ‘go to’ for calming them down. It got them back to bed so that I could return to my disjointed rendition of sleep.
But it is now time for me to woman up and be strong. Suffer the consequences of my lazy actions and dig my heals in. It is time for them to learn new habits, ones that don’t cost me six gallons of milk a week… sometimes seven.
Tonight is the night. Sarah got another report at school that she can barely keep her eyes open past playtime at 11 – because she is tired from being up asking for milk all night – and neither of them are eating anything resembling a meal more than once a day. Why should they? They eat all night.
We start early. Mommy asking them if they are big girls. Them happily replying yes, having no clue that what they hold most dear is to be ripped from their tiny little grasps only a few hours later. I tell them big girls don’t drink milk at night. They sleep with Elmo and Monkey dolls, yes. But they don’t drink milk.
They seem OK with it and I am optimistically – stupidly – hopeful that this may be easier than I envision. Yea…. because I am new to this whole Mom thing, ya know? And I just met these really easy going, quickly adjusting to change children.
It takes an hour and half. Of screaming, protesting, crying and begging. And the kids do not handle it all that well either.
I console, hold, let cry, rub backs, sing, put back in bed, put back in bed, put back in bed, put back in bed, and give water until finally, all of us worn out but me still holding strong, they drift into a peaceful, lost, sad slumber.
I feel triumphantly hypocritical. I gave them this comfort and I took it away. In one fail swoop. With no warning, no lead in, no time to adjust. I created their addiction and sent them through detox with no towel to bite down on.
But in the end, I suppose, I will have created something better. Children who learn to fall asleep on their own, happily grasping a doll for assurance, the thoughts of the years of milk slowly fading into the subconscious and being replaced with the newest ideas of how to scare their Mother to death by back flipping off the couch.
In the meantime, I am ready to stay consistent, wavering not at all, and present myself with – false – assurance toned confidence. Because this is not the end. I have won the battle but have not even been introduced to the war.
But that’s OK.
Because it has to be.