Sometimes I find parenting a challenge.
Tonight I have walked my two year old back to her cot every minute or so for the past hour and a half. That's almost 100 times. I have been calm, consistent, blank-faced.
This has been every sleep-time for the past few nights, and most of her day sleeps as well. I normally struggle with calm when evening go awry, but my husband has an amazing Zen like approach to sleep resistance, so I thought I'd give it a go.
We went overnight from having an easy sleeper to a monkey cot-climber, with stamina and incredible stubbornness. When I got home the other day and Aaron told me he "found Circe standing in the kitchen after her nap," my past flashed before my eyes: I remembered the night Aaron walked Phoenix back to bed 55 times, the day Eliza smeared nappy zinc all over her timber venetians when she was meant to be sleeping, the time Beatrix made me cry when she begged for her cot after she graduated into a bed.
As soon as he told me I felt the waves of exhaustion, I am too old for this. Really too old for this.
But one key word stuck in my head, consistency, yeah I remember that it fixes everything. But till an hour ago I had none of that, Circe in fact was proving to be the consistent one. We'd put her down, she'd get up. At the 46th (or so!) tuck-in she told me "Mummy I am so annoyed at you.
I have been here three other times and I know this won't last. But she is my last baby. That is the reason I am still breastfeeding her, I was able to stop earlier with the others, not this time. My last baby. Bedtime stuggles like this are gut wrenching: you want to cuddle and nurture but at the same time you want to be firm and just have them doing what they were doing when things were good.
We are also going through major anxiety and fear issues at bedtime with our eight year old son. He shares a room with his two other sisters, of late we have to go in every five minutes at his bedtime to reassure him. We tried everything: charts, love, kindness, not-so-kindness, door open, light from the kitchen, man-we're-really-struggling-to-be-kind-here... there was always one more request. We were fed up, tired grumpy anyone would be at 11.30, three hours after tuck in.
I hate myself for this, hate that he is so afraid and that we can't seem to help.
I just don't want to be in that boat with my two year old. We got it right with the other two, eventually. Like I said, I am getting to the point where I want to hang in my tea towel at 8 pm have a wine or two, read, blog, sew, paint talk to my husband, whatever.
After I wrote this I broke my own rule. I had a plan tonight, to remain blank, walk her back, tuck in leave, shut the door.
After almost two hours she was so tired, she'd told me she was so angry at me, in a pleading way. I tucked her in and kept a gentle hand on her for a slightly longer time, her crying became deep sobs, her eyes were closed she said "Don't go."
I knew then I was about to chuck it all in. It took almost no time for her to sleep. I let my hand off and just stood in darkness, hearing her breathing. I then realised my own shut- the-door rule meant I was now stuck in there for at least another five minutes until I dared its squeak.
But I felt more human, less zombie and robotic. It will not save me later though when she wakes again at one in the morning, as she has been.
What have you done in these instances, what is your approach?