Rosie is currently teething, or in the middle of a growth spurt, or just plain grumpy. Mitchell has hit the Terrifying Threes full force. Justin has been gone on business trips way more than is good for my sanity. I can’t lie, there have been moments this summer when I wonder if I’m doing this right.
Mitchell can make my heart melt with just a look. He can smile at me just right, or do something especially cute with his toys, or, the holy grail of adorable moments, tell me he loves me, and I think to myself, “He’s perfect. I’m a success. This is all I need in life.”
But then there are moments when he screams for 30 minutes because HE wanted to be the one to turn the light off in the kitchen and it doesn’t matter if I told him he could turn it on and off again, it’s just not the same and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to turn this around but just wait for the tantrum to run its course. And the more he screams, the more I have to clench my fists and close my eyes and do that deep breathing and remind myself that this too shall pass. But I can’t help but think to myself, “Am I doing this right? Should he lose it like this? Why can’t I make him stop?”
There are also frequent episodes of nap time strikes. I’d say 90% of Mitchell’s behavior issues stem from exhaustion, because he just loves going on nap time strikes. We have a routine, and the routine will work gloriously for weeks, and then he’ll decide that routine is crap and he is not going to sleep. If he isn’t jumping out of bed every two minutes despite any threat or bribe I throw his way (and there have been some doozies, lemme tell ya), He’s jiggling a foot or taking a finger or slapping himself in the face and screaming for the boo boo pack. When he decides he isn’t napping, he isn’t napping. And then the rest of the day I’m left with this fine specimen of a toddler that can’t be taken on public:
Those are the times when I most question myself. The child is exhausted. Why won’t he sleep? What am I doing wrong?
Rosie has even jumped on the anti-sleep bandwagon. The past few nights, she’s been up every single hour insisting that she’s STARVING. Who knows, maybe she is? I’m so exhausted that I’m certainly not going to try to argue with her. Her nap (yes, singular) is about 45 minutes usually. YOU ARE SIX MONTHS OLD, CHILD. SLEEP. And so I question myself. Am I doing this right? Am I destroying her future ability to sleep? Will my children be emotionally scarred or fail to become productive members of society because of my inability to get them to sleep?
But then I go into Mitchell’s room to remove four of the six blankets he’s insisted on sleeping with that night…
…and as I’m leaving, he half wakes up, sees me, and whispers, “I love you too.” Oh. It’s worth it. It’s worth all the sleepless nights, it’s worth all the anxiety, the psychological warfare, the tears, the tantrums. Because in the end, both of my children’s default state is loving and giving. They both crave hugs like most kids crave sugar. Yes, they want to be touching me almost constantly (including at inappropriate times, I am potty shy after all), but that’s a good thing. Mitchell’s hit the stage where he gives presents, and he loves giving me things. “Here, Mommy. A balloon for you. Don’t pop it!”
Yes, their behavior is a direct result of my parenting, but I need to remember that both their good behavior and their bad behavior is my fault (yeah yeah, and Justin’s). So I’ll just grit my teeth through the tantrums, through the midnight feedings, and through the tears, because I know that in an hour or so, I’m going to get a giant hug and a kiss and hear those magic words – “I love you too.”
It’s worth it.