Syncing Instead of Drowning–In Which Your Parents Get Back on Track

Dear Lily June,

The blogger SmirkPretty once made a comment to me which included this quotation from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all.”

The quotation is so heavy to me, it may as well be carved like a stone monument into the side of a mountain. It is a constant reminder that as your parents, the state of our relationship always trickles down to you. In fact, we’ve been beaten over the head with that message lately.

On last night’s Louie that your dad and I watched together after we put you to sleep, a family counselor told the titular comedian and his ex-wife essentially the same message, so that, when we heard it, we immediately turned our heads like two synchronized swimmers towards each other:

“Divorced or married, the fact is, if there’s harmony between parents, the kids are happy, and if there isn’t, they are not.”

You know that I’m not going to lie: Things had been tense between your parents, Lily. In welcoming you into our lives (and consequently, embracing more joy than we’ve ever known and don’t you forget it, young lady) there were adjustments to be made that came, not from your birth, but from our own birthrights. I know you know what I’m talking about if you’ve read my other letters, but suffice it to say, we didn’t always have a rich inheritance…

But Lily, even at our most divided, we have always loved each other and you. And we are finally starting to sync back up, get on the same page, and [insert all the other cliches here for working together.] The Bucket List and the Saturday morning coffee ritual that we started has helped (and bless you, Lily, you have granted us the rich gift of your patient curiosity, watching intently but quietly as your parents have put their sanity back together over conversations and a cherry bomb latte or chai or two). It has also helped taking a couple of days away from the soul-crushing torture slash exciting adventure (depending on who you’re talking to and when) that is the house-hunting process.

In the meantime, you have brought us physically back together: Because of your sleep regression, we’ve had to alter your sleep routine the past couple of nights, putting you to bed just a single hour earlier like a number of websites said to. And for 48 hours, it has worked: You’ve slept on two separate occasions for the entire night through. [And the clouds parted, and there was much rejoicing in our one bedroom.] But that means, when your dad gets home at eight, we’re putting you down immediately. And while you hatch evil plans to wake us now sleep peacefully, we sit for one hour, one blissful hour, and remember what it was to be the best friends we’ve always been. So thank you, Lily.

Thank you for throwing us the bone of a few zzz’s. We know it may be temporary, but I knew things were better for us when we came up with the idea to pull back your bedtime, and we both looked at each other and said in perfect unison (like no one outside of a Disney movie or musical does ever), “I hope this works.”

It was just like the time you were taken up to audiology in the hospital and when we woke realizing you were gone, we knew simultaneously we had to go get our daughter that minute. Which was like the time after we’d taken you home early on and we’d had so much trouble getting you, as a newborn, to sleep in the first place. And then, when we finally were able to lay down as a whole family, you let out the loudest, cutest sigh in the world EVER and your dad and I turned to each other and started whisper-howling, trying so hard not to let our cracking up wake you back up.

Which was like the time, little Lily, when you once lay in your crib in the living room napping and we both looked in at you at the same time. And you lifted your little arms skyward as if you were an enthusiastic evangelistic preacher asking the congregation for an Amen, Hallelujah. And we both about died not just from laughter, but from that being one of those moments where we could’ve, on the spot, died and we’d’ve died happier than we ever imagined ourselves being.

Some people, Lily, believe in all their hearts in Easter, that a savior named Jesus died to save humanity from the baser aspects of ourselves and on this upcoming Sunday, they will celebrate his having arisen. Others, if they do not hold this faith, can still smell the crisp breath of the daffodils in the air this time of year and feel as if they, too, are renewed. I hope, my dear, in whatever you feel, believe, and know to be true, that you know the restorative power love can hold in a life, whether that love be God’s, one of many gods’, or your fellow (wo)man’s.

I say this often enough to defeat the purpose behind the rhetoric entirely, but forgive me because here it is again. If you learn nothing else from me, my darling Lily, learn that love is all there is worth living for. Any regrets I have or things I would do differently stem from the times in my life I have not held this as my guiding truth. And as the lyrics go to what is quickly becoming my favorite bedtime song to sing to you,

“The greatest thing / you’ll ever learn / is just to love / and be loved in return.”

***

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20 thoughts on “Syncing Instead of Drowning–In Which Your Parents Get Back on Track

  1. bitsfromheaven says:

    DLJ I’m so happy your little bit of heaven is growing again, sprinkled with and gathered by love. Sleep is so much more appreciated when you’ve been lacking it, isn’t it?
    The connection between what we had and what we have is never far, but being able to see through the past and believe that love will make the future one more worth living is what it’s all about my dear. I have found that in the distresses of the everyday life I lead, my babies help me to remember this time and time again – x7!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      I don’t know how you’ve done what you’ve done SEVEN times. I had one baby, and I keep pleading with her when she doesn’t let us sleep not to kill us because we love her. Compared with you, *I’m* just a big baby!

      Thank you, as always, for giving me perspective, with both what you write and how you live.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lonna Hill says:

    We start bedtime in my house at 7:00 pm. The hard thing about this is that my husband usually only gets to see them in the early morning before he leaves for work (while they are getting ready for school) and then for about an hour in the evening while we have dinner and spend time as a family. Then it’s off to get ready for bed.

    The good thing about this, like you mention above, is that time between when the kids go to bed and when we go to bed, it’s such a good time for my husband and I to have good conversation and company . . . I think that’s one of the things that has kept my marriage happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Ah, a 7:00pm bedtime. It sounds like a dream, but I hope someday it’s our future.

      Once my daughter enters kindergarten, I think my husband and I will share the time with her equally, and we’ll feel better. Of course, until then, here’s hoping we get a few nights of much-needed sleep!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy says:

    Greg and I have a time each afternoon after he gets home that we are together. Just the two of us. We may be surrounded by children, but we are focused on each other and not them. When the kids were smaller, they quickly (or not so quickly) learned that it was “couch time”: mummy and daddy’s time for conversation and togetherness. After I made sure all the obvious needs were taken care of they weren’t allowed to ask for anything for about 20-30 minutes. They fought it at first and jockeyed for attention, but once established, the ritual brought a lovely feeling of peace to our house and daily. They’d play nearby when they were still needing watched at all moments, but even now with teenagers the whole house breathes something of a collective sigh during this (sort of) sacred time. Marriage doesn’t take care of itself as I know you and I have “talked” about before. And I admire and praise your wisdom in knowing not to make the kiddo the center of your universes – as such indulgence may lead to entitlement – for a little bit and on occasion. Happy Easter, wise one!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      You call me a wise one, but given your and Greg’s system, I think you’re the one with all the wisdom. You know what’s great about your story, too? It’s clear you’ve raised your children to have such respect for you, and your and your husband’s relationship. Teach me your ways, mama guru. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. originaltitle says:

    Early bedtime was the ONLY thing that worked for us. This is coming from a person who tried EVERYTHING. I hope it continues to work for you!

    It is so tough the first year of a new baby on all relationships, but most of all the marriage and I think that’s in part (this is my non-scientifically backed opinion) because we’re so sleep deprived! It is really hard to focus, be rational and make good decisions when sleep deprived for a long period of time. It’s so paradoxical that we get the least sleep when we need it the most! Accommodating another life into the home?! Making sure that life survives and thrives? Those are huge things to be tackling on little sleep. Add to that the larger life problems like finances, moves, etc…It is a wonder any of us make it! I like to think that everyone has tense times in marriage, but it’s only worrisome when you stop noticing and stop trying to make it better (again, non-scientific, non-research backed opinion). I celebrate you and your husband for creating strategies to make it work. I hope the earlier bed time continues to help Lily and you both in having a little couple-time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      She’s up to her old tricks again. Last night, after being put down at 8, she was up again at 11. My poor husband (whose turn it was to get her) didn’t remember that the clocks in our kitchen needed to be reset after we’d had to flip a breaker. So he saw 4 on our clock and went ahead and started his day with a big cup of coffee. It was only after giving her a bottle and finishing caffeinating that he realized what he had done…at about 11:30 at night!

      Yes, sleep deprivation is a killer, especially when compounded with all the stressors of new motherhood and the potential of home ownership. I just keep telling myself that no matter what life brings from here on out, I’ll never again be THIS tired. I don’t know how ANYONE has a second child (or a third or more) but those are the true heroes of our world. Lily June may find herself an only child for a long time, if not forever.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. originaltitle says:

        I’m so sorry! On the whole, early bedtimes worked for us, but they are so early they’d be impossible on your schedule. There are still nights where she’s up at all hours, though, especially during wonder weeks. I feel for you, and your husband, though a long, long time from now that story about starting the day in the middle of the night night be funny, might be, maybe…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Amy says:

    Early bedtimes have been key for us as well. 8:00, baby. Or toddler, middle schooler, tweener. You don’t have to sleep, but you do have to be in bed. (I’m happy to report that they all have GIANT piles of books next to their beds like their mother does for just such a time as this. [a.k.a., 8:00 bedtime].) ‘Course, I also realize that not everyone gets up as early as we do. As a mother, I find early mornings alone to be crucial to my (and everyone else’s by extension) well being. Early bedtimes have been important for Greg and me, and also for me who likes to get up before everyone else and hang out with God in the quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Oh, I long for the ability to get up early and experience the quiet. So far, the baby’s been pushing her 8pm bedtime back to 9…10…and then waking up promptly at 1am to be held until 5/6 when I have to get ready for work. T.S. Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month.

      Like

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