Our new routine is proving to be quite a challenge to coordinate naptimes and bedtimes with three kids reaching different milestones. Ben is now able to drop his nap and go down for 12 hours straight from 9 to 9. Becks still need at least an hour of naptime so she wouldn’t get cranky at dinnertime. And Nat practically just sleeps whenever he wants however long he wants. I’ve been trying to divide and conquer on most afternoons, and it has worked for a while, until yesterday. After returning from kindy, Becks gets tucked in first and it’s like our special time together. After she falls asleep, I tuck Nat in. Ben gets to play on his own while waiting for me, and when I emerge victorious, usually an hour later, we do a special project and some learning together.
There’s no problem except that sometimes Becks doesn’t wish to nap even though she’s tired and only falls asleep at around 4.30 and refuses to wake till 6ish in the evening. She needs that nap so she can have her dinner (she won’t eat when she’s tired). I need her to have that nap so night terror doesn’t strike at night for her (she has a history of this whenever she’s overstimulated). But if she sleeps for more than an hour in the afternoons, she has problems falling asleep at bedtime.
At night, I usually divide and conquer again. I tell Ben because he skipped his nap, he must be the first to go to bed, and I tuck in both boys, leaving the little girl to play on her own till both boys have fallen asleep. This works on days when she’s in the mood to be on her own. Some days she can be very sticky and insists on following me everywhere I go, which also means she would enter the room and yak non stop, which can be very annoying for the boys who are trying to get some rest.
So yesterday, our little girl took a nap longer than she should, woke up throwing a tantrum because she wanted to sleep more, and basically ruined a lovely evening we all could have had together. When it’s time for her brothers to go to bed, she insisted that she was tired (at 9.30) and lay on her bed talking and singing, giggling and tossing (she was clearly NOT tired) and only went down after I smacked her bum 15 minutes before midnight. She made me lie next to her, pat her, massage her, pray with her, answer her questions – and sometimes drifting in and out of sleep before fighting it again – for two frigging hours.
I only managed to get some rest after midnight. I went to bed very frustrated having wasted so much precious time.
At 7 this morning, guess who sprang up first? The little girl got up quite happy, prodded her little brother who’s sleeping on the floor (with me) and they both scampered out of the room to play ball.
Half an hour later, she decided it’s no fun playing with him, and came to holler at me. It’s her way of waking me up. Now, I know a loving, gentle, ever selfless mom would spring up, give her a big hug, say “good morning” and get ready to spend some time with her little ones. I’m clearly not one. I pulled the blanket over my head and begged her to let me sleep. I told her she could go read a book, play with her toys or just hang around the baby.
Well, those options were clearly not what she wanted to do. She proceeded to sulk herself into a tantrum, yank my blanket away from me, hit me on the head and threw a fit by crying into my ears and screaming into my face.
Now, I know a loving, gentle, ever selfless mom would by now wake up, lovingly discipline the child for throwing the tantrum, give her some breakfast and a big bear hug.
No surprises here, but I’m clearly not one. I pleaded with her to let me sleep an hour more, asked her to go away and stop her screaming. When she didn’t, I left the room, shut the door to the master bedroom, and tried to go back to sleep.
But someone decided to bang the door, scream even louder and up the volume of her crying after I did that, and that was when it happened.
I lost it. I could have walked into the shower, taken a warm bath and walked out of the room a loving and gentle mom, and give her the attention she needed. But I didn’t. I flew into a rage. I opened the door, picked her up, flung her onto the bed like a big bad bully. I took the cane out, smacked her bum uncontrollably (she’s got diapers on) and yelled repeatedly, “DO YOU KNOW IF YOU DON’T LET ME SLEEP, I WILL TURN INTO A MONSTER? NOW I’M A MONSTER!” I just kept on yelling and caning the bed (she’s rolled away by now) until I was exhausted and collapsed onto the bed.
What else would I feel but a huge surge of mom guilt overwhelming my entire being. I felt rotten and terrible for smacking her out of anger. I held her tight and told her I was sorry for being such a nasty mother. We both sobbed ourselves to sleep. When she woke up again after 45 minutes, she gave me a huge smile and asked, “Mama, are we going to the playground first, then to kindergarten?” She didn’t seem to remember what had just happened, or maybe she did; but one thing I knew: she forgave me. I carried her to the playground and had breakfast with the kids while they played. Before I sent her off to school, I kissed her on her cheek and said, “I love you very much, you know?” She nodded and hugged me back.
I thank God for His mercies which are new every morning. And for a daughter who extends forgiveness readily to her monster mom. I am loved despite having failed, and this is truly grace.
Dear Sweetheart, may you grow and blossom to be a woman of grace – someone who’s beautiful inside and outside. I’m learning each day to be a better Mama to you and am grateful for your forgiveness and love.