Sleep and Nightmares

I don’t want to discount that fact that my son claims he has been having nightmares, but the concept of a “nightmare” to a three year old makes me chuckle sometimes.


Let me give you a little background on his sleeping habits:

Our son has never been one that has ever followed a set routine.  When he was younger we tried a bedtime routine with him and it just never worked.  I thought:

ALL my friends are doing it so we HAVE to do it too.”

I figured all my friend’s kids bedtimes were so peaceful and loving and ours was so disorganized and frustrating.

I was a full-time working mom at that time and struggling with bedtime made wanting to get up in the morning harder.

(I didn’t want to get up in the morning anyway, mind you.

I wanted to be a stay at home mom but the timing just wasn’t right.)

When the routine didn’t click for him we tried the “cry it out” method.

Yeah, that lasted only one night.

About 40 minutes to be exact.

It was heart wrenching the whole time.

We lived in an apartment at the time and our two bedrooms were on opposite sides of our living space.  Having him that far away from us was very hard but thankfully we were on an end unit and the bedroom above was our upstairs neighbors office.  Nobody would hear him if we had to let him cry.  In fact, our neighbor (a young, single, cat loving gal with all the awesome Ikea furniture and nice art pieces on her walls) loved Reese and always commented on how she never heard a peep from us.

Then we moved into a duplex and we shared the entire house with my brother, his wife and their baby boy who was a year younger than Reese.  Knowing that family was next door made it easier if he was loud, but I still felt bad.  After they moved out we went through sets of neighbors that were so loud and disrespectful that our screaming kid was nothing.  Still, I insisted that we do our part and tend to him immediately.

This kid is definitely a night owl–just like his daddy.

Here I am the mommy and I am falling asleep before my child…every night.  Some nights he would stay up until 10:30pm, other nights until 1:00am, and hardly ever would he fall asleep before 8:00pm and stay asleep.

When I got pregnant with Emery I was so nauseous for the first 17 weeks that I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed to go take care of him so he usually just ended up in our bed.

(Mommy note here: We have no problem against co-sleeping, but for us…on a daily basis it just ain’t happening.) 

We would probably call this one of our (not you, you co-sleepers, you) biggest mistakes in parenting because it has taken a very long time for us to get him back into his bed.

All throughout all the change in neighbors, changes coming to our family and his imagination starting to bloom we have struggled with nightmares.  It got so bad that we invited Papa and Gamma over to help us talk to him, pray with him and annoint his room.  We have a list of sleep scriptures given to us by a family from church that they use over their daughter.  We tried everything.  For awhile it seemed to get better.

Until last night…

Like I said, I don’t want to discount his feelings, but he just cracks me up!  He feel asleep on the couch around 7:40pm (can we say, no nap today) and I really contemplated waking him and keeping him up so he would sleep through the night.  Zac got busy on the computer and a phone call, I snuck away for a bath (by myself) and Reese was still sleeping on the couch.

He transfered to his bed just fine and all was going well until


I was already up nursing and he was screaming for his daddy.  Within just a few minutes my two boys come stumbling down the hallway and both end up in our bed.  Now, remember…I was nursing so that mean all 4 of us were in our bed at 2:20am.

I was so tired.

Reese started his usual,

“I need some milk.  I want some juice.  I need some toast.  I want to watch tv”

and we started shushing him and telling him that it wasn’t morning yet and we needed to go back to sleep.

He was wide awake for awhile.

I had a hard time getting his sister to go back to sleep after nursing so I just put her in the swing in our room and she tossed and turned for awhile.  I laid in bed and told Reese to come snuggle next to me.  After awhile I could tell that he was starting to doze off but he was mumbling something.  I finally figured out he was singing a CeCe Winans song:

“I wanna be with you.  I gotta be with you.  I wanna be with you.

Oooh oooh oooh.”

How sweet.  He was singing to Jesus in his sleep.  Then this:

“Get off of me!  Ouch.  That hurts.  Momma I just had a nightmare.

You gotta pray for me.”

Of course I prayed with him.

Multiple times actually.

And so did daddy.

He eventually asked to go back to his room and fell asleep immediately and didn’t wake up again until 7:40am.

It wasn’t until just before I started typing this that he told me what his nightmare was about:

“A baby was touching my head.  And my car was red.  You gotta pray for me again.”

Again.  That childlike innocence and faith is so precious to me.  This sweet boy has dreams about kids taking his books, or that his car was red and not green and it seems like the end of the world to him.

What are things that I label as “bad” or “wrong” that I misinterpret?  Where can I slow down during my day to see things the way a child does?  Are the first words in my head “I gotta pray” whenever a situation arises?   I’m learning to rid myself of all those toxic thoughts and focus on Him instead…but that’s a whole other post for another day!


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