Here we are again… It’s Monday morning and as I sit at my laptop and reflect on the weekend I’m compelled to share my experience with you hoping that it’ll help someone during a frightening drive through a dark tunnel. The dark tunnel being the journey from chaos to calm … aka our 5yr old’s challenging bedtime behavior last night.
This is me being super vulnerable right now so here we go…
We had a lovely Sunday and my husband and I decided that after Sofia’s nap (she’s 18months) we should take a drive down to the seaside for an ice-cream and a stroll on the promenade. Yes, even during winter we do love our ice-cream! Kyriacos had to be at work by 4:30pm so we were home by then. The highlight of the afternoon was spotting a gorgeous rainbow in the sky during the drive home! Of course Cristiano (5.5yrs) was trying to help Sofia find the rainbow and even though she may not have seen it, she was still verbalizing her ‘wooooow’ in her eagerness to join our excitement. It’s fair to say that rainbows really get us going because they are quite rare for Cyprus.
Once home, the kids wanted to visit the corner church and maybe go to the park, but everything was too wet to play due to the earlier showers so we happily just visited the church and returned home to have a quick dinner and then start bedtime routine which included bubble bath, massages, stories, lullabies, prayers and kisses. It’s a looooong routine, especially when I’m doing it alone like last night when Kyriacos was at work.
Everything was going like clockwork! In my mind I was planning a busy evening on the laptop: finishing some important reading I’d started during the week; planning my schedule for the week ahead; preparing school lunch for the next day, yada yada yada … So you can see how I was well ahead of myself with all these plans. So ahead of myself that I didn’t notice Cristiano was rather tired and his behavior was starting to get edgy, irritated, demanding and pushy. I should’ve shortened the bedtime routine to get them in bed just a little earlier than anticipated. Not always an easy thing to do when holding the fort on my own.
Back to Cristiano, he wanted to give Sofia her goodnight kiss and she wasn’t going to have it. She flat out refused. No matter how hard he tried, this little madam was too tired to entertain him. This really did not sit well with Cristiano at all. Here he was, the big brother and everything it symbolizes for him (Protective. Supportive. Strong…), requesting a sweet goodnight kiss and being REJECTED by his baby sister! HOW COULD SHE! Didn’t she know who she was dealing with?? Sofia didn’t give a bleep! And the more she refused the more Cristiano reacted. He started to shove and jump all over her bed, doing tumbles with his legs flying in all directions. After numerous times of asking him to proceed to his room (which is what we do every night while I put Sofia to sleep) I was just getting a ‘No’ from him and more tumbles and jumping dangerously on the bed while Sofia was lying there. So I physically picked him up and took him to his room and asked him sternly to wait there for me until I put his sister to sleep.
The whole time I was in Sofia’s room he was whining, opening and closing his door and banging various things in his room which was distracting Sofia from relaxing and falling asleep. As for me, my blood was boiling by now and I was visualizing some crazy things I would do to him. Not very conscious of me I know! But don’t lose hope!
Finally Sofia fell asleep and I marched to his room. I asked him to pack away the toys he was playing with and to get into bed. ‘No’. I asked again. ‘No’. and I asked again. ‘No’.
I forgot to mention that I was not reading him a story that night as a consequence to his disturbing Sofia’s bedtime. Now he was insisting he was going to read a story. After numerous no’s from me, he went ahead and grabbed a book off his shelf and sat on his bed to ‘read’. So I went ahead and took all of his books off his shelf, glared at him and said ‘there is no story tonight’, and took all the books out of his room. Everything I was doing up till now was right in my head… but in my heart it felt so terribly wrong. And I just went ahead and did it anyway.
When I returned to his room I found him sitting under his table playing with toy cars completely ignoring me and my malevolent presence. I requested him to come to his bed. You already know his answer. I was astonished by this behavior and total disregard for my instructions and my authority! How could he treat me like this! After everything I do for him, right!?
WRONG BIG MAMA !!!
It was at this moment when I just stopped my thoughts, I shut my mouth and just stood in his room. I just stood there feeling the energy, letting it settle. Waiting for something higher than my inferior self to guide me through this. I reflected inwards and I said a prayer. ‘Please dear God help us through this power struggle. Soften my heart and help me be the parent my child needs right now’. And I waited a few more moments.
He was oblivious to my internal beseeching. Or was he?
After what seemed like forever, in a very calm tone I asked him if he was ready to get to bed so I could kiss him goodnight and we could go to sleep. His answer came…. A confident and strong …………… ‘NO’. My heart sank. I stayed calm. I knew that this was where he needed to be. Under the table. Recovering from the battle we had. I responded by telling him ‘ok, I’m going to wish you goodnight then and sleep tight and I’ll see you in the morning’. He replied saying ‘goodnight bad night’ in a cheeky but sad voice. I could sense he didn’t want me to give up on him yet. And as I left the room and started to slowly close his door, I opened it again and gently asked him, ‘Cristiano mu, do you maybe want a nice warm hug before you go to sleep’. His famous answer … ‘NO’. It was all ego. But I was already passed all that and was hobbling in my sweet spot… and I said to him, ‘I know you said no my boy. I know you said you don’t want a hug…. and I’m going to come in anyway and give you a hug if that’s ok with you?’…… He took a deep breath in and said ‘OK MOMMY’.
Finally we hugged, we talked about how silly all that was and how we have to respect Sofia when she doesn’t want a kiss from him. I sang him his lullaby and he fell asleep in my arms while stroking my face! Total bliss for this exhausted mommy!
Being a mom is hard work. Being a conscious mom is even harder. Last night I had to show up to my son. If I had not taken that pause I would not have found the peace that came with it on my own. The pause was the magic ingredient to helping us get out of the tunnel.
As you can see, I am definitely not the picture perfect conscious mom. It’s a daily practice and it has enriched my life and my families in so many ways. Sure there will always be challenges. It’s part of life. And it’s crazy to expect anything different. The beauty of it is having the tools to help me and my family get out of the foxholes.
I do appreciate your comments and gems of wisdom you could share with me.
If you feel someone would benefit from reading this post, please share at your heart’s desire.