Midnight Mabel

The time has come. I’m night-weaning the baby.

Yes. The three-and-a-half-year-old baby.

See, I feel sheepish and ridiculous admitting that. Admitting that I have been getting up multiple times a night and breastfeeding a perfectly large and able preschooler for so bloody long now, just because she wanted to more than I wanted to not.

And then I feel bad for feeling bad, because there’s a whole phalanx of crunchy moms out there who do this, and who perhaps (but probably not, because crunchy moms worth their salt are all about not judging) would even think that if she still wants it, I should still do it.

But it’s time. Tuesday night with the babysitter showed me that it’s just habit that leads her to demand me and the boobs around 3am every night. (We are at the point that she can often, if not usually, make do with just a story, sometimes even from Daddy, at the midnight waking, if she wakes then. Which she mostly still does.) She can put herself back to sleep, if she cares to try. But when she knows I’m around, her thought process goes like this:

Oh, I’m awake. 

Instead of

Oh, I’m awake.
Better roll over and go back to sleep.

It’s time to change that, and there’s only one way to do it. I’ve tried waiting it out, but that’s obviously not working. So first I send B in (who sleeps deeply and is getting up early every day to go for a run because he’s training seriously for this fall’s marathon; which is one reason why I was reluctant to do this), and then when she kicks him out I go in and reiterate that there will be no boobie.

And then there are demands for cold water from the fridge, and a hot waffle from the toaster with nothing on it, and more cold water because the first cold water isn’t cold enough any more, and a Mabel story*, and the Cinderella story, and another story, and to have the library books read to her, and to get her pillow pet from downstairs where she left it; and some of these demands are acceded to and some are roundly denied because it’s the middle of the damn night and that’s when people sleep.

And eventually, so far, she has turned on her light and turned over in a big grump, and finally gone back to sleep beside me, or even without me. But it takes a long, long time. Last night she woke at 2.15 and finally fell asleep some time before 5am. That’s a big chunk of night to be wide awake for. I think she’s part raccoon.

We have guests coming next week, so I really hope she’s got used to it a bit by then, because the walls in this house are paper thin, so that I can literally hear a child yawn in their bed while I repose in my own, and I don’t think I would feel like a very good hostess if my guests were treated to the upset-Mabel show for three hours in the middle of the night.

* Mabel doesn’t know her name is sometimes Mabel, of course, because Mabel is not really her name. But when telling her midnight stories about a little girl who has adventures, I often find that the little girl’s name is Mabel.


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Awfully Chipper

Writing about writing, expat-ing, baking, parenting, and cats.

5 thoughts on “Midnight Mabel”

  1. A friend of ours once said that she was planning on continuing breastfeeding until their daughter was 18 so she would always have to return home at night and would be less likely to get in trouble with boys.


  2. Hooray for Mabel putting herself back to sleep sometimes! I’m one of those semi-crunchy moms who does extended-type BFing (though I’m lucky in that both my kids were more or less night-weaned by 14ish months; I bow to your patience, seriously) and I judge you not. You do what works FOR YOU and when it’s not working, you change it. Maybe wearing her out during th day would help? Hours of swimming, several trips a day to the park? 🙂 P.S. I kid you not, my verification word was “la Boob”!


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