Each night during the week, I start trying to convince Olivia to go to sleep starting around 8:00. Some nights, she’ll be asleep by 8:03. Other nights, it takes a little (or a lot) longer.
Last night was one of those where it took longer than three minutes. Each time I gently reminded her that she should be trying to go to sleep, she’d smile sheepishly at me and asked, “Are you mad at me?”
I always smiled gently back and told her softly, “No, I’m not mad at you. No one is mad at you. I just know how tired you’ll be in the morning if you don’t get enough sleep tonight.”
This led to a conversation about how tired she’d been that very morning, when she’d moaned about how fast the weekends go and how sad she always is to greet Monday mornings. She then asked me to carry her from her bed to the bathroom where a space heater was running. She sat in front of it cooking her feet as I cajoled her into getting dressed. (For the record, she dressed herself. She does that all the time these days, thank goodness. It frees up a good seven minutes of my morning.)
I’m trying to be mindful of my mood and my actions each night at bedtime. I don’t want bedtime to be stressful and full of anger from me. I know how hard it can be to fall asleep even when you’re tired but having someone barking at you to GO TO SLEEP is less than restful and not very conducive to actually falling asleep. (Yes, I’ve been known to bark and I always feel awful about it once she’s actually fallen asleep.)
For the last month or so, Olivia has fallen asleep with gentle back scratches, neck nuzzles, kisses to the cheek and soft reminders that it’s sleepy time.
Yet she still asks me after each reminder if I’m mad at her. Have I scarred her from my past barking? Can I get to a point where I’ve been more gentle than I ever was grouchy? I certainly hope so. I’m definitely going to try.
If we ever get to a point where she no longer asks me if I’m mad at her, I’ll be sure and mark down that day as the day gentleness won and grouchiness was forgotten.