Friday, March 28, 2014

I Told My Child No

Last night, I told my child something that I have never told him before.

I told him no.

Before you all go crazy on me for my coddling ways, let me explain.

My child asked me last night to snuggle with him. I had just said prayers, read aloud for nearly 30 minutes, sat in his room and talked for 5 minutes and left him there to ponder sleepy thoughts. About 2 minutes later, he walked downstairs saying he couldn't sleep and was feeling very worried and scared.

We discussed the issues at hand (although it's hard to reason with a child at 9:30pm about why they won't be the ONE child that is snatched off the street and killed by a kidnapper). His thoughts were racing. His voice was shaking. And I told him no.

It's not been a great week. Steve is out of town. I've had a cold. I've been double booked with kid activities every night this week and I'm the only taxi cab. I've run errands, cooked every meal, cleaned every dish, volunteered 3 days at school, steam cleaned the carpets from the fiasco with the dog in the mud, helped with pinewood derby cars, monitored homework and tried to troubleshoot video games.

Last night I was looking forward to the one night of TV that I really enjoy (Parenthood) and I just needed some downtime. I needed to de-stress, clear the clutter from my brain and turn off my mind.

So I told my son no.

It was 9:30pm and he wanted me to stay in his room until he fell asleep. That meant me crowding into his already tiny twin bed (half of it is covered with stuffed animals) and then sitting on the floor by his bed holding his hand, rubbing his back or going through sleep techniques with him.  

I told him I was tired, still had to let the dog outside (monitored by me because of her bad dog tendencies with the giant hole of mud in the backyard) and that I really needed some down time.

I was honest with him.

He said he understood.

So why do I feel so guilty?

I know I am probably only months away from him not asking me to snuggle. I know I probably just sealed some sort of unwritten code in his mind to never ask me to snuggle again. My child (I know how his brain thinks) is now going to think that my down time super cedes his need to snuggle. He's a martyr in that way. He will give me what I need and sacrifice what he needs. I love that about him. But I don't love that about him. He's very good (without even trying) of making me reflect on my own behavior.

Realizing that I still feel guilty this morning about not making the time for him last night, I probably didn't do the right thing. I could have given 20 more minutes.

But then, the pendulum swings the other way and I think I should let myself off the hook from feeling guilty. I had already given and hour (from start to finish) with the bedtime process. I read aloud much longer than normal knowing that he was not asleep yet. The other child was asleep when his head hit the pillow.

The guilt of motherhood is a powerful thing. I left my son in a perfectly safe room with perfectly safe thoughts (I prayed with him after tucking him in again) to fall asleep. And yet, I still feel guilty.

I know the old saying, "If mama' ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". And the adage, "You need to take care of yourself first so then you can take care of others". We're reminded of that one every time we get on an airplane.

If it's socially acceptable (and even encouraged) to take care of ourselves first, why do we feel so guilty about it?  

Monday, March 3, 2014

To Colin, On Your 10th Birthday

First of all, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE 10!!!

Where has the time gone? I can still remember like it was yesterday waking up on March 3, 2004 and knowing I was going to meet you that day.  Daddy was just getting up for work (around 5:30am) and I woke up and felt a nauseating pain roll through my body. Having never been in labor before I wasn't exactly sure that it wasn't just my imagination. I tried to go back to sleep but after Daddy got out of the shower I told him I didn't think he would be going to work that day. At 11:32am you joined our family 3 weeks before you due date. You were tiny and perfect. From the first moment I saw you I didn't want to let you go.

When the nurses offered to take you out of our room so Daddy and I could get some sleep, we turned them down every time. We just couldn't get enough of you. Of course, by about 4 weeks later we would have given anything for a solid 3 hours of sleep. But I still wouldn't trade those late nights and early mornings for anything. I remember rocking you to sweet lullabies until we both fell asleep. I also remember having a stiff neck and a sore back from sleeping in a chair so much.

You were a horrible sleeper but now that I know you sleep on your belly, it all makes sense. You would nap for 15 minutes at a time and sleep for *maybe* two hours at a time. This continued until you were over a year old. I guess we paid our dues because now it is very rare that you come in and wake us up. I must admit, hearing you say you want to snuggle with me makes me so happy even now.

My sweet baby Colin ... that's what I called you. I still call you that and it brings this wry smile to your face. You have to faintest dimple that only appears when you have a genuine giggle. If I had know 9 years ago what I now know about you, things would make so much more sense.

Your sensitivity and need for structure are things that we just didn't know about you when you were a toddler. It would have explained so much to us when you would break down in tears at the circus or cry when we wouldn't let you drag things out of the cupboard and put them in order.

Colin, you are one of the kindest kids I know. You have a huge heart and you are so sensitive to the way others feel. You have a remarkable sense to show empathy and sympathy at the exact right times. Although others don't see you anxiety, Daddy and I know it is there. You hold things in and get overwhelmed with the weight of the world on you shoulders. You always come out of those situations stronger and you have come to realize on your own when things are starting to overflow.

You are crazy smart. Although I have no idea what your profession will be, I do know that you will be a loyal friend and a person that everyone can count on to do the right thing.

I love you with all of my heart and wish a the happiest 10th Birthday a boy could have. You're still my sweet baby Colin and always will be.