Tonight the Captain went on a bike ride. The nighttime routine is usually a daddy thing, with the Captain on bath duty and pajama duty, so it is a bit disruptive when it is a solo mommy show, especially now with my limited range of motion. Pumpkin was at daycare for the first time in a week today, and we played pretty hard in the 90-something-degree heat with her little blow-up pool and water table, so I knew she would be tuckered.
She asked for a shower tonight instead of a bath, so I obliged her. We have a showerhead wand that comes all the way down to Pumpkin-height, and I let her play in there a bit before washing her up. Afterward, around 7:30, she was asking for bed. Hallelujah, I thought; I can get some laundry done or work on the baby’s room, or just get to read a book for a bit before the Captain gets home!
Pumpkin hasn’t weaned from drinking water out of a bottle at night to soothe herself to sleep. If she’d been a pacifier baby, I’m sure it would be a pacifier in demand. If she were still nursing, I’m sure it’d be the boob. But rather, it is water, and sometimes she wants upwards of 16 or 18 ounces before falling asleep. She gets it in the 8-ounce Medela bottles, and we try to give it to her around four ounces at a time. If she’s not truly tired, she cries when we try to ration it. It is a whole different blog post where I lament the fact that we have to change hugely soaked diapers in the middle of the night, and how difficult nighttime potty training is going to be if we can’t get her broken of the habit…
Anyway, I thought for sure tonight she’d be crashing hard after only four ounces. It wasn’t to be. Within minutes of putting her down, she was crying for more. I caved and gave her two more ounces. She finished quick, cried for more. Repeat this two more times. I sat with her, tried rubbing her back and talking to her, and I even let her throw a bit of a tantrum while I sat on the futon in her room with her in the dark. An hour of this ended up passing, and she was showing no signs of being tired.
Mommy was getting frustrated. I’d psyched myself up for an hour or two of alone-time, and it was snatched away from me before I’d even gotten my comfy pajama bottoms on.
The baby’s room is Pumpkin’s old room, where the glider is now. The glider where we cuddled and nursed and read books and rocked to sleep for the first seventeen months or so of her life. I decided to give it a try. I asked her if she wanted to go rock.
Immediately, she nodded and the waterworks stopped. We walked together to her old room.
She climbed into my lap and we got as comfortable as we could; my 36-weeks-pregnant belly isn’t very accommodating for a 28-pound toddler that is all sinewy arms and legs. She nuzzled her face into my shoulder and very solidly gripped my shoulders with her tiny hands, and we rocked.
A few times she raised up from my shoulder like one of those bobblehead dolls, and looked into my face with just such a look of contentment that I felt terribly guilty about my impatience with her earlier. She kissed me several times on the chin, as if she were saying, “Finally, mom…why couldn’t we have just done this an hour ago?” We both blissed out on mommy-daughter time for about fifteen minutes, and then she asked on her own to go to bed.
Tonight was a valuable reminder that sometimes the simplest explanation for my daughter’s behavior is the one that will tell me what she needs. Was she trying to manipulate me into giving her more water? No. Was she balking at bedtime? No. Was she throwing a fit to test the waters of the Terrible Twos? No. Was she just being a brat to spite me? No.
Did she just want her mommy for a few minutes of uninterrupted cuddles? Yes.
God, I felt like a heel.
|I love her to the moon and back.|
The beauty of it all is that she’s been asleep now for about 30 minutes, and I haven’t read my book or worked on baby projects. I’ve spent the time writing this post, so I can remember this valuable lesson. In less than a month, she will have to share me, and I will have to share her. Moments like tonight are as precious as they are limited in number.