Last night was rough. Olivia has been steadily pushing back the time she falls to sleep and last night was the worst yet.
I hate taking her to bed while she’s still awake because it means more work for me. I just want her to fall asleep easily on my lap so I can carry her to bed and be done with the bedtime routine and go to sleep myself.
But 9:00pm rolled around and there she was, wide awake.
I couldn’t wait any longer. Alyssa needed to be in bed too and so I heaved a giant sigh, got to my feet and informed Olivia quite gruffly, “Tomorrow night, you WILL fall asleep before nine o’clock.”
And…she burst into tears.
Damn. I hate it when I make her cry. I hate myself so much when this happens.
And yet I was in such a spiral of frustration, tiredness, annoyance that I grabbed her blanket, picked her up and carried her to bed. She cried against my chest and I…didn’t do much more than carry her. I wasn’t rough but I wasn’t nearly as comforting as I could have been.
I deposited her on the bed, turned on the fan, and made sure the alarms were set. Olivia sat on the bed, sniffling.
I informed her, “I am going to put on my pajamas.”
To her credit, she didn’t follow me to the bathroom but she did get out of bed and wait in the darkened room.
When I came out of the bathroom, she scampered back to the bed, sniffling just a little.
I went to Alyssa’s side of the bed first, hugged her and apologized for being so grouchy.
She kissed me and told me it was okay.
But it wasn’t. It wasn’t okay to be mean and stompy and grouchy.
I went to O’s side of the bed, tucked her in, kissed her tear-stained cheeks and told her how sorry I was for making her cry.
She just looked at me in the dark, waiting for something I wasn’t sure I could give at that moment.
I brushed her hair back from her face. I kissed her again and promised her that I’d try to do better in the future. I’d try not to be so grouchy and I never wanted to make her cry. I rubbed her arm the way she likes me to do so. I kissed her again and told her how much I love her.
I told both girls that I am so sorry that sometimes my actions don’t reflect my words and that I’d try harder to always be more gentle, more loving, more like the mommy they both deserve.
Olivia finally fell asleep and I crept to my own bed where I laid in a shroud of self-loathing and guilt. It’s a vicious cycle. I get tired, I want them to go to sleep so I can go to sleep, the more I push for them to sleep, the more anxious they get and can’t sleep and the more frustrated I get.
It’s ugly and I hate that it happens. But I also try to learn from it and do better tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
And you know what? After that rough end to the night? Olivia slept the entire night, not waking once, not coming to my bed. She woke up looking more rested than she has in a few weeks. Go figure.