We have a bedtime routine like most everyone we know. There is some wrestling involved (playfully with LB and out of necessity with the baby). There is tooth brushing, a story or two and a bedtime kiss. Some nights Daddy or I will sit in the small chair next to LB’s bed for five minutes. This helps with the transition for our anxious child and she has come to expect and rely on this time. It’s five minutes. Five out of our entire day.
Some days I feel compelled to run out of their room and start working. Most days I feel the messy kitchen getting grimier and hear the TV blaring. There is chaos and disorder. It bugs me. I like lists. I like things picked up. I like my alone time.
Tonight, as I lay my daughter in bed, I let her know I wasn’t going to spend my five minutes with her tonight. “Baby O is still awake, sweetie, and if I sit there he won’t go to sleep. I’m just going to lay you down and come check on you.” Because of her anxiety, I talk about everything with her. I talk about what we’re going to do, what is going to happen and what is coming. I talk about what we just did. I talk about what’s changing and why.
Still, sometimes I forget she’s only three.
So, I did as I said, kissed her, laid her brother back down in his crib and ran downstairs to clean the kitchen and start a little bit of work. Two steps down the stairs, I hear screaming and crying.
And I got pissed.
I got pissed because I was JUST in there telling her why I couldn’t stay. I got pissed because she screams for drama at least ten times a day. I got pissed because this is my only alone time and because her brother is also trying to sleep in the same room. I got pissed because I’m tired a lot of the time of the neediness and the clinging and the constant “LOOKLOOKLOOK MEMEME COMEHERECOMEHERECOMEHERE”
I got pissed because sometimes it’s just a little over done. And tonight, I was over done.
I decide to give her a few minutes to herself and teach her a lesson. In my head, I’m always trying to teach her a lesson. Tonight’s lesson: a) mommy needs her quiet time b) you go to bed when we put you there and c) listen to me.
After about ten minutes of her maniacal crying, I ran up, pissed, to let her know it was unacceptable. I opened the door and found her laying in her bed sobbing. Baby O was standing in the crib perplexed. I went to her bedside and spoke harshly, “This is NOT OK. It’s time to go to sleep and you’re keeping your bother up!”
Then she looked at me with her teary eyes.
“I just. I just. I just. Wanted you. To sit. With me.” She gulped for air as I stood there, angry, listening to her tell me all she wanted was.. me.
I wasn’t sure what the lesson was any more.
I fetched another bottle for Baby O, let her know I’d sit for five minutes next to her but that sometimes I wouldn’t be able to. Today, though, I would. I fed the baby, held him and smelled his hair. LB relaxed a bit next to me and they both became quiet and soft. The room relaxed. I relaxed. It was bedtime.
Maybe the lesson tonight was more for me. Maybe the lesson was to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember that I was once that little girl who cried when things changed. I was the little girl who just wanted her mom to scratch her back for five minutes. I didn’t understand when my mom worked and I didn’t like being alone either. I still don’t. So why would I anger so quickly at my small daughter who is so much like myself?
Tonight I learned how to react. I hope I remember tomorrow.
If you figure out the answer let me know. She is a highly emotional girl who craves constant attention. She is stubborn and feisty just like me. We butt heads regularly. I suspect part of it is a normal part of mother-daughter economics. Implementing copious amounts of deep breathing, that’s as far as I have gotten.
By Astacia on 2008 05 25
Nods head knowingly
been there six trillion times
By Alli ~Mrs. Fussypants on 2008 05 25
I’ve been there. It’s so easy to get angry…but it’s much easier to be reminded why we shouldn’t be. I hope we ALL remember tomorrow.
By Sarah on 2008 05 25
I can learn from this too when my son does the same kind of thing. I get so annoyed and easily angered and throw out a heavy sigh or (gasp) even a yell every now and then. He’s a little man, he should be strong and brave and nut up already, right? Ummm, he’s 3; I tell myself this in the “non-heat-of-the-moment-times” when it resonates more and makes so much more sense to me than it does when I am frustrated. He’s a small boy, not a viking. I think back to my childhood- I was “that girl” who BEGGED her mom (through tears and anxiety-induced stomach issues) to come and eat lunch with her… IN GRADE SCHOOL. True story. I also resented my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Evans, for never believing me and for not helping me through my stressful times away from my mom. The fact that I still remember HER name and face vividly (when all my other teachers sort of blur into the past), makes me wonder if I still don’t hold a tiny tiny seed of resentment towards her even today. She could have helped me through it, but instead she left me to suffer alone until my mom was finally called to the rescue. My mom sat with me at lunch and we talked and once I was “replenished” she left and I went about my school day. Or when I couldn’t even handle spending the night at my best friend’s house at the age of 10, and her parents had to call mine to come and get me at half past midnight one time when my attempt to be brave and give it a try failed miserably. But, you know what…my mom always came. She always stopped what she was doing and headed down to the school or my friend’s house, or where ever I was…again. She hugged me and I melted into her feeling relief wash over me. This happened more often than I’d really like to admit, now in my adulthood. But, thinking back on my younger years, that is what I remember most ...my mom, always being there. Without question, no matter what. I am sure this is what LB will remember too…you, being there for her…always.
By Michelle on 2008 05 25
WOW. This post just hit every fiber of my body in a way I was not expecting. I have the same issues in our house execept that my son is the oldest and daughter is the youngest and they do not share a room. BUT…this has opened my eyes to the fact that maybe my son does have anxiety issues that need to be addressed. Thank you for this.
By Siri on 2008 05 25
Yup. Been there. Had this same revelation and struggle with it daily. Thanks for the extra reminder.
Hearts and all.
By rachel on 2008 05 25
I learend this lesson (yet again) just today.
By Christi on 2008 05 25
I myself have a three year old and this post touched me to the core. You are so right. We anger so quickly at their innocence. How hard is it to lay/sit with them for 5 minutes? Well, when the baby’s crying, the phones ringing and hubby can’t find clean socks it is hard. You hit the nail right on the head though. Awesome post.
By DQ on 2008 05 25
Right on, sister! I do that with my kids all the time. Sometimes it is so hard to think of things from their point of view. Great post!
By Megan Booth on 2008 05 25
It so hard to remember that it’s “just 5 minutes” or “just one more time” or “just one more book”. When I find myself getting annoyed or angry over this kind of stuff it is so hard to remember that Zoe is not always going to want me… not always going to cry for me… not always going to need me the way her little almost 3 year old self does. I wish it was easier to just enjoy those minutes rather than get so annoyed.
By Colleen on 2008 05 25
As I read this, I felt strangely like I’d written it. I’ve been there so many times. I’m still there sometimes, because my daughter is STILL there many times. She will be FIVE in August. *sigh*
By MGM on 2008 05 25
So sweet, the things we learn from our kids. I have six- and each one of them has gone through a bedtime “phase.” We read stories and they usually fall asleep while I’m reading.
Have fun, the days might last forever but the years go by so fast.
By Mrs Hannigan on 2008 05 25
Sounds SO much like my daughter. Have you ever heard of or read “The Fussy Baby Book” by Dr. Sears? It is all about high-need babies and toddlers. We put off reading it for the longest time because I didn’t want to “label” our daughter, but once we were nearly bald with a few scruffy patches of wispy hairs left on our heads and ready at any moment to slay each other with a look or a sigh, because our daughter was SO clingy, SO demanding, SO emotional… We read it and wished we’d done so months earlier. It gave us a completely different perspective on her and helped us cope with her extremely high-need personality. It gave us the ability to see her, not her behavior, and eventually realize that, at least part of her behavior was caused by food allergies.
We pull it out every couple of months and skim through it again to refocus. You can find many excerpts from the book on their website http://www.askdrsears.com under the Fussy Baby link, but the book is great to have, to mark up with frustrated lines and relieving circles and empowering exclamation points (most family and friends offered unsubtle and unsolicited “advice” that we were making her that way, but any parent of a high-need baby knows they are wired totally different and were that way even in the womb).
By jenn on 2008 05 25
Another mom of a highly energetic, highly talkative, highly needy preschooler here…and I am re-learning how to be patient and more nurturing on a daily basis. Thanks for the reminder that those extra few minutes of snuggling together may have been the most important thing I did today!
By Amy on 2008 05 25
I feel the pain girl, I do. There are some days where I just crave those five minutes for me for a change. AND it always irks me that my three year old goes right down, without a flinch, on the rare occasions we have a sitter. Where is the logic in that??
At least you know you are not alone!
By Kat on 2008 05 26
Thank y’all. I’m a little teary just reading your comments here. I appreciate the community.
Michelle, I can TOTALLY appreciate your stress in grade school. We talked about that but I was the same way. So it’s no shock that we have kids like us, I guess. Except that I’m always shocked. It’s funny. Sortof. But your story of how you think of your mom as always just there for you is exactly what I want LB to remember. I think it means so much more than anything else you learned in life and how you remember and think of your mom even today. That is the type of memory I want to leave with her. So thank YOU for that reminder.
Jenn, I’ll have to check that out. It sounds like something I’m sure I can use. I hesitate with the Dr. Sears books just because they made ME so anxious when my son was a preemie. But this sounds more helpful and practical. I’ll definitely go take a look.
Mrs. Hannigan, thank you. Yes. The days last forever but the years fly by. Never a truer word spoken.
By Mrs. Flinger on 2008 05 26
You’ve been hanging out inside my head, no?
By Jennifer on 2008 05 26
Couldn’t have said any of this better… beautifully put, sistah friend.
This is why I tear up everytime I hear that cheesy country song “Let Them Be Little”... (sniffle)
By Erin on 2008 05 26
That is so true. They days are long, but the nights are longer. ...clnn
By Chicagoland nesting network on 2008 05 26
Oh I have so been there…
By Alison on 2008 05 26