A child this young should not have the power to make me feel so frustrated, exasperated and insecure as a parent. But he does.
We’ve been having bedtime issues with Elliot over the past month or so. There are ups and downs, but the downs are really bad. Like me getting mad enough at his screaming to scream back in his face. Like me being in tears several times now when I’m finally done putting him to bed.
I have tried posting about it a couple of times in the hopes that I’d be able to see things more clearly and figure out a solution, but I haven’t actually completed a post yet because there seems to be so many things I want to say. As well, publishing a post opens the door for advice…and I’m not sure I want to hear it. But as with the conversations I’ve already had about this, I can ignore the advice I don’t like, and act on the advice I like.
The basic issue is I try to leave the room and he starts crying, and I find it very hard to leave him crying, so I don’t. I usually leave for a few minutes, come back and see what he wants, and eventually he is happy. I rarely have to go in more than twice, but it’s stressful as hell. Not every night is like this — some are still as smooth as they used to be. But a growing number are very bumpy.
The stress comes from the conflict I’m feeling. I know he’s pushing the boundaries, seeing where I’ll push back. I know that, yet I let him push. I don’t let him push in other areas of our life, so why here? Why can’t I just put my foot down, leave the room and not come back? It’s because hearing him call out to me, crying, is excruciating. I don’t want him to ever think that I won’t come if he needs me. But that’s just it…he doesn’t really need me.
Tonight I got pissed off enough to just leave him (after a bedtime routine that was difficult from start to finish — usually the pajamas, books and brushing teeth part of it is no problem, but not tonight). Greg actually suggested I go back to the door (not go in) and see what he wanted. If I’d been on my own I probably would have just left him. But I did go back, and when I opened his door he was happy as a clam. He wanted to “see Amy”. Translation: he wanted me to come back. And I did. Again. Greg clarified afterward that he didn’t mean for me to open the door. He just wanted me to stand behind it and tell Elliot it was time to sleep.
And maybe that’s the happy medium here. Yes go back, to appease the stress of leaving him, but don’t open the door. I guess I’m not convinced that will be any easier. But it’s probably worth a shot.
It’s all a bit of a shocker…for two years we’ve had the best bedtimes. Something I’ve been proud of, and something Greg and I have benefited from, as we’ve had some pretty relaxing evenings after bedtime. Now it’s draining. I often get anxious before I put him to bed, which I’m sure he picks up on. And I analyze. Continuously. Further drain.
I’ve tried talking to Elliot about this (of course at a much simpler level, and not in the heat of the moment) and he seems to understand at least a small part of things. Today out of the blue on the way home from daycare he said “there be no crying at bedtime”. Of course saying and doing are two different things. And he is only two.
I know there are going to be some rocky times, but I want to feel like most of the time we’re on solid ground. And right now I don’t feel that way. Right now I feel like things could get worse before they get better.
Not the greatest feeling.