My little W is really a dream of a 3 year old boy. He is sweet, listens well, and is appropriately rascally. He is kind and helpful, and he does exactly what I ask him to do the vast majority of the time. Lately, however, he has a hard time going upstairs for his rest. It is the one time of the day where we seem to duke it out, and it happens day after day.
It begins with the fact that his legs become seemingly unable to support his body. “I can’t waaaaaallllllk,” he whines, as we climb the stairs up to his room. I am, of course, carrying a 20+ lb. infant who can legitimately not support himself, so my only recourse after coaxing and cajoling is to try and get W under the armpit and essentially drag him up the stairs and into his room. Pretty picture, isn’t it? I have no tricks up my sleeve at this time of day. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I have just spend upwards of 6 straight hours with this precious little person, and I am desperately ready to have a few moments to myself. I just want to get. him. in. bed. As one can imagine, this usually doesn’t work. I can’t parent with one arm, balance an infant on my hip, and drag a toddler around. I usually have to put the baby down on the ground which results in him screaming, and now everyone is wailing. Help.
This very same scenario happened the other day, and for whatever reason, I just lost it. I spoke more firmly than I should have to that darling little blonde haired boy, and he in turn spoke more firmly (and loudly) to me. The baby was crying, and M was in damage control mode. It was a disaster.
I finally got everyone settled in their rooms and got myself settled enough to catch my breath. That’s when the guilt settled in too. Also the clarity.
“It’s your fault,” that voice in my head chimed in. And it was. I know that time of day is consistently difficult for W. He shows me that on the regular. And yet, here I am, doing the same thing and looking for a different result. Insanity. That whole situation and the escalation could have been avoided had I just done something different, had I just changed my approach, had I just thought outside the box. That mom guilt settles over you like a thermal blanket on a hot day. I never welcome it, but it does light the fire in me to change.
From now on, the transition to nap time will be different. Maybe we will race up the stairs. Maybe I will offer a piggy back ride. Maybe the baby goes up first and plays on the floor while I transport the hooligan. Whatever it is, the approach will be fresh and new, so that I can help W navigate it all. I can imagine it probably feels even worse for him.
Sometimes our toughest moments in parenting, the ones that walk us right to the edge, are actually all our fault. I say that with all the love in the world. It’s just that sometimes we have to change our approach in order to achieve a different result. The expectations are still the same (hopefully high ones at that), but sometimes the way to meet them isn’t right down the middle. It’s through the backdoor or maybe a loop-de-loop through the side.
Our children will let us know when the front door is closed, and we need to try a different approach. W sure let me know. Loud and clear. Here’s to enough energy, clarity, love and compassion to find a new entrance. I’ll see you around back.
Find the joy~