As I type this, Avery, my 2.8 year old, is in her crib. Crying, thanks to me, her terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mom.
Since my kids were wee(er than they are), we’ve had the same bedtime routine. It evolves slightly as they age, but it’s always maintained the same formula. I have always either sang them songs or read them books, tucked them in, gave them a kiss and said this, word-for-word, to both:
I love you.
Have a good night’s sleep.
See you in the morning.
Wake up happy.
And then they’d put themselves to sleep. It’s always the same. We struggle with hugs and kisses between sisters because Avery is a goof and likes to push my buttons and Eirinn is a germophobe who refuses to kiss her sister on the lips.
One of my buttons that Avery loves to push is my intolerance for dawdling. Stalling, if you will. Avery is a master and it drives me BANANAS. What started as that simple routine I outlined above has become much, much more. She’s manipulated the system and pulled at my heartstrings so many times that now her routine is books with Eirinn, hugs and kisses between them, then I have to take her pee (again, she goes before books, too), rock her in her glider while singing a song, then we do ONE MEEEEEELLION kisses. One for her, one for me, one for AH, one for Eirinn, one special one, one more so she doesn’t cry (that’s what she says “one more so I don’t cry”). Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.
I’ve been hesitant to draw the line because of my crazy. Mah cray-cray. I have this thing and the thought is tightening my chest right now. I can’t help but think “what if this is the last time I’ll see her.” What if something unspeakable happens in the night? I would never forgive myself for not singing one last song or giving her one last kiss. If she wants one more moment of my time, I would forever regret not giving it to her simply out of principle.
But the sane part of me realizes that she’s on to this. She knows moms can’t say no to a snuggle or a kiss and so she uses that to prolong the inevitable. So tonight I drew the line. We read, we sang, we snuggled. I gave her five kisses and five hugs. But she wanted one more. I told her no, that it was time to sleep. And that’s why she was in her crib crying, wailing for me to come back and give her another kiss.
It’s killing me inside. It’s just a kiss. It’s just one more kiss. What’s the harm? Well, the harm is tonight it’s just one kiss. Tomorrow it’ll be one more kiss and maybe one more song. The night after will be a kiss, a song, and another story. You see what I mean? Where does it end? I know from experience that it doesn’t end until I end it.
And so, I did. And I made her cry. And it’s killing me.
UPDATE: It was killing me. Apparently it was also killing AH who, after a half an hour, went up and brought her down for her to get that kiss she so desperately needed.
And now she’s asleep.
This whole post reminds me of this: