It probably comes as no surprise that bedtime has been a challenge lately. Especially with two-year-old Squish.
Recently, I have blamed the summer daylight hours. Of course Squish would go to sleep, if only it were dark before 8:45. Yes. Sure. Of course he would.
I have also blamed travel. Nothing like a week in Greece, a continent away, letting the boys stay up each night to watch a certain movie about two princesses, to disrupt the bedtime expectations around here. But, to be honest, that travel happened almost two months ago now. So I am not sure it qualifies as a proximate cause anymore (if it ever did).
I have blamed myself for failing to create an environment that sets Squish up for success. Whatever that means. I am pretty sure Squish feels successful when he runs out of his room at 9 pm, curls bouncing around his head as he shouts, "I woke up from my nap!"
And while I'm mentioning the night he claimed to have woken up from his nap at 9 o'clock, I should mention that I have blamed a surprise return of day-night confusion. Several nights ago, Squish claimed he was going to take a nap as I put him in bed for the night. The next morning, when my husband was saying goodbye for the day, Squish called out, "See you in the morning light!" - a phrase we usually say in response to, "nighty night!"
The other night, after the six thousandth attempt to get Squish to stay in bed, I put him back in his bed, said goodnight, and as I walked out, I shut the door loudly. You could say I slammed it.
Squish started to cry and cry and cry. It was about as visceral and awful as the whole sleep training experience a couple of years ago. Mostly because of my guilt for the whole door incident.
Twenty minutes later, after Squish had ostensibly calmed and quieted down, Squish reappeared in the living room.
I picked him up, and, as I was carrying him back to the rocking chair in his room, he said, "Momma, why did you slam the door? Are you angry? Why, momma?"
As we sat in the rocking chair, and as my heart broke into a million pieces, I asked Squish to look at me.
I said, "'[Squish], I am really sorry. I was really frustrated, and I didn't calm myself down. I didn't take a deep breath. I didn't get space before I acted. I am so sorry I slammed the door. I should not have done that."
Squish asked, "But, Momma, were you angry? Why? Why were you angry?"
I tried to explain that I was frustrated that he wasn't following directions about bedtime and going to sleep when his body needed rest.
Eventually, we resolved that he would go to sleep, and I would leave the door open on my way out.
Over a beer later that night, I was talking to my husband, and he said, "Sweetie, that's parenting. We can't always get it right."
True. But I wish painful mistakes were not part of the deal. Ever. Ever ever.
Maybe the twenty minutes from the other night will be a blip in the radar or a drop in the bucket or some other metaphor about de minimis consequences, but, Squish, I love you like crazy, and I am sorry I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to take a deep breath.