Because Lily is in a mommy-obsessed stage just now, the Fourth of July was more Dependence Day than Independence Day in my world.
I not only had to perform nearly every task and procedure involving Lily, per her request/demand, but – when it came time for bed – she insisted that I be the one to accompany her to her room, making my already-long day a good 30-45 minutes longer.
Of course, since we’d weaned Lily from nursing at 12 months, Joe had been the one to always put her to bed. But a recent vacation had thrown us all off from our routine a bit, and for the past few nights, she’d insisted that I accompany her to bed. Oof.
This pained me for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve always, always, ALWAYS been someone who desperately needs a little time to myself now and then. Some people hate being alone, but personally, I require it. Second, as I previously posted, I have been struggling mightily lately to train for a triathlon, and for the most part, my training has been limited to nighttime workout sessions. Because I was putting Lily to bed, my workout would be pushed back even later, leaving me with even less down time before I needed to go to sleep myself.
So after a half hour, I extricated myself from Lily’s room, changed into my running clothes, and tried not to cry while lacing up my shoes, watching the sky grow dark outside the window. I’d already felt overwhelmed by Lily’s intense, constant need for me; this recent addition just made me feel more wholly consumed by it.
“Are you OK?” Joe asked, and with sad resignation, I told I was unhappy about this new bedtime arrangement. “Me, too,” he said. “The stupid thing is, I would much rather be up there, putting her to bed, than cleaning up the dishes.”
“I know,” I said. “And I’d rather be doing dishes.”
For some reason, we both just needed to hear that said out loud, because the next day, I said, “You know, I was thinking about the whole bedtime thing, and the more I think about the more I wonder – ”
“Why we’re letting our two year old dictate the terms of what we each do?” Joe finished my sentence.
And it was as simple as that. Yes, the next night or two, Lily campaigned hard for me to take her up to bed – she still does, in a less aggressive, prolonged way – but soon enough, she got re-acclimated to Joe reading her a story in her crib and lulling her to sleep. I’m glad of this, in part because Lily’s (probably perfectly normal) crazy-need for Mommy at all times can be tough for Joe, who obviously feels rejected and ancillary at times. Giving him this one-on-one time with Lily every night is good for both of them, and establishes a good foundation for a future in which she won’t be quite so mommy-centric.
But it also gives me that elusive alone-time, when – even if I’m washing dishes – I can hear myself think, sometimes for the first time all day.
It seems odd to think about how we ended up in the situation to start with. Both Joe and I are highly rational people. But when a toddler’s stream of voiced commands and desires drowns out all else, sometimes you forget momentarily just who, exactly, is in charge.