For the past couple of weeks my wife has struggled with our daughter’s bedtime routine. Or I should say, our daughter has started to struggle with having her other mother do bedtime.
I’ve always been the preferred parent, and it has been hard for my wife. When we weaned and Avery had to get used to bedtimes with her other mom (we started doing two nights of mommy and two nights of Mo), there were lots of nights of horrible tears. But then it got great! Avery loved her Mo nights, and would excitedly cheer on her way up to bed that “it’s Mo’s turn!” But now, once again, she pleads and cries herself to sleep: “Avery miss mommy. Please go get mommy. PLEASE. Avery need mommy. Mommy’s comfy. Avery loves mommy. Avery no love Mo.”
It’s heart wrenching. I can’t imagine how heart wrenching it is for my wife.
I’m sure this kind of thing happens in all families, and we’re not giving in because one sign of weakness on our part will only make it worse. We don’t want to be stuck in the old ways where I was the only one who could put her to bed. So we just have to stick it out…. It’s just so hard to listen to her pleading for me until her voice fades into sleep.
I’ve had one of those days as a parent where I’m cranky, touched out, and just didn’t have the patience to deal with typical toddler behaviour. I found myself snapping at Avery for crying over things I thought were silly; I barked at her to get off of me as she climbed on my shoulders and pulled my hair with her knee; and I frustratingly uttered “COME ON, AVERY” at her behaviour more times than I can count. I normally feel pretty good about my patience level, and my ability to empathize with toddler emotions (maybe I feel emotions on a toddler level, too, sometimes…). Today just wasn’t a good parenting day. I kept asking myself, am I just extra irritable today, or is she being extra irritating?
Turned out she was getting sick. Tonight she spiked a fever. I felt bad all day for my lack of patience, but when I realized she was sick I felt extra bad.
And tonight is her Mo’s turn to do bedtime, and I can hear Avery up there crying, “I miss mommy. Avery loves mommy. Mommy’s comfy.”
So the moral of the story is, we all have our off days, and our kids definitely love us unconditionally, despite the fact that we kept losing patience with them, or we yelled at them, or we just weren’t able to comfort them in the way that they needed in a particular moment. Right now despite being touched out, I want more than anything to be cuddled up with her in her bed, telling her that my grumpiness today says nothing about how much I love her. I want to whisper in her ear as she falls asleep, “I love you so much, and I hope you feel better in the morning. And I’m sorry for being grumpy today.”
Avery’s at the age now where she provides bathroom commentary. Public washroom trips (where I drag her along so I can go) have become hilariously embarassing.
Last night we were in a restaurant bathroom and she started out by saying “mommy have lots of poops!” (I just want to say, I was going pee).
Then she smacked the side of my butt and said “mommy’s big bum!”
Background info: I have my period. When I stood up to flush, she remarked, “mommy have red pee!”
When we left the stall we pretty much bumped into the person who had been in the stall beside us. She was clearly holding back laughter. #momlife
Avery has such a strong interest in helping in the kitchen. She measures ingredients, cracks eggs, stirs… Basically she does everything but chop. She even insists on helping wash dishes. It takes longer and water gets everywhere, but she actually doesn’t do that bad of a job, and she loves it. She has always loved it. Last spring (she wasn’t even 2 yet) we went camping with a group of friends and Avery washed everyone’s camp dishes in a soapy tub. You can’t keep her away from washing without tears being shed.
I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I make a lot of food from scratch, including sourdough and kombucha (which Avery calls ‘boocha). Today Avery said two things that made me so proud:
“MMM, my love ‘boocha! Yummy!”
“Mommy we make sourdough bread, please please pleeeeease?”
So much to say, but I don’t know how to say it. My wife and I have both been in low moods lately. I didn’t ovulate this month, and I can feel it emotionally. My wife struggles with anxiety and has been feeling a lot of it around the idea of having baby #2. I’ve felt tugged around on her rollercoaster of wanting and not wanting another child. I open my heart for the possibility of another baby and then I’m asked to not get excited about it because we might not be able to go through with this. My wife says she needs more time, but I know this about her: she will delay big life changes indefinitely while focusing on all the negative “what ifs,” and my role in our relationship is to focus on the positive and push us into the big change. My wife was nervous and not excited about our first pregnancy until literally the moment Avery was born (it led to me feeling alone in my pregnancy and not wanting to talk about my excitement with my partner. That sucked). But now she has zero regrets and can’t imagine life without our one perfect child. The same thing will happen with #2. It’s a delicate balance we have – the pusher forward and the puller backward. It’s easy to see it as a conflict, or like we just want different things out of life, but it’s actually just how we function together as a couple. She reins me in so we don’t have 100 chickens and I help her loosen up so we take a chance on 4 chickens (which she now loves and appreciates). The chicken thing is a weird example but it’s a real one!
Anyway, the tough thing is, there is no compromise on having a second child. You either do or you don’t. As my wife pulls back, my heart grieves the place it made for this future child. As my wife gears up and wants that child again, my heart re-opens. It’s a painful cycle even though the child in question only exists in my imagination, my hopes and my dreams.
So I’ve been low lately. I’ve been trying not to resent my wife for pulling back, and she has been trying not to resent me for pushing forward. We’re trying to give each other a blank slate and move forward on the same page. Marriage is a lot of work, sometimes. I know it’s worth it, for us at least, but I’m tired right now.
I used to follow a blogger who wrote a post a year or two ago about how she practices self care: the key ingredient was waking up before her toddler so she could have peace and quiet while drinking her coffee, and she had an hour to do whatever she wanted to do before her kid woke up for the day.
I used to resent that a bit… Ever since she was born, Avery has woken me up in the morning – and I’ve always been an early riser. She even went through a month long phase of waking for the day at 4:30am. I’d sit on the couch like a zombie, too stunned to make coffee or parent… That’s when we first brought in morning TV.
At the best of times, she’d sleep in until 7am, or on a few miracle occurrences (when sick) until 8 or 8:30, but those were literally 2 or 3 mornings in the entirety of her life. I never got into a routine of setting an alarm to get up at 6 if she was getting up at 7. There are two reasons for this: 1) I was tired because I’d been up all through the night, or 2) most commonly the reason she slept in is because she came into our bed, and when in our bed she sleeps ON me, and leaving wakes her up.
However, lately she has been asking to stay upstairs in our bed in the morning (on non-daycare days) and asks me to go get her hot chocolate (Ovaltine). She either just wants to play up there, or I put tv on for her on the weekend. It’s my time alone in the kitchen that I always dreamed of… I’m doing it right now! Listening to my coffee brew, writing a blog post, soaking in the fact that I have an almost two and a half year old who is independent enough to play an entire floor away and not need me every 5 seconds. It’s a pretty freaking awesome stage.
Avery loves swimming lessons so much. I didn’t go to this one but she has been excited for it since the weekend. Tonight she bounded out the door squealing “swimming lessons!!” and came home all proud of herself for all the things she did. This time she jumped off the side of the pool to the instructor (not just to her Mo), and she dunked her head twice. It’s kind of surreal to think that this is her last series of lessons with one of us in the pool with her…
While she was at swimming lessons, I drank scotch, cleaned the pantry, and made bread. My wife and I have been a bit on edge with each other this week and the scotch and alone time was nice.