Between my little girl's birthday extravaganza, Daylight Savings Time, two nights of conferences, and multiple daily meetings this week, I am fried. Stick-a-fork-in-me fried. I believe in relishing the days, the moments, because they move much too quickly and are gone forever. But, I must confess, I have woken up in the morning this week and began to mentally calculate the hours until I could crawl back into bed. My calculations seem to overlook one critical element standing between me and some much needed shut eye: bedtime with Lauren. Normally, bedtime at the Traber house is a frustrating endeavor, but coupled with the utter lack of sleep and exhaustion of the week, and bedtime becomes a battle of epic proportions. As the mom, I am assigned the task of putting the princess to bed, as Eli goes willingly.
I am embarrassed to admit I am sitting in the hallway right outside her room, my nightly post, balancing my computer on my lap. She refuses to stay in her bed unless I am in sentry position, standing guard over her, casting my best "teacher" looks at her to remind her to stay in her bed. During bedtime, I morph into a prison guard, shooting evil glances, spouting clipped phrases, and refusing to allow escape. I've also been known to raise my voice occasionally, shed a few tears, and resort to bribery. And, those are on the good nights.
After the elaborate bedtime ritual of books, prayers, and our "girl talk," I kiss Lauren gently on the lips. I sneak into the guest bedroom to retrieve the "monster dust" that I blow into the room to keep her safe throughout the night. And, then I assume my position in the hallway, counting the moments until she falls asleep. All that stands between me and a night of restorative sleep is one three year old. I've done this enough to know that the demands will begin in momentarily. . . . three year olds are masters of deception and stalling.
I hear a little voice not more than 30 seconds later: "I'm thirsty/hot/cold/tired/happy/sad." Insert your adjective and repeat. At least 10 times, lying back down between each one, tricking your mother into thinking her time to hit the sack is on the horizon. My controlled and calculated reply? "I hear you. Go to sleep."
She tries another tactic, appealing to the hygiene habits I am working to instill in my children: "Mommy, I have to go potty/forgot to brush my teeth/wash my hands." Again, insert your cleanliness habit and repeat. My clipped, brusque reply? "I hear you. Go to sleep."
By this time, I am ashamed to admit that my blood pressure begins to rise--I want sleep, and I certainly don't care to start my slumber in the hallway. I am frustrated with my lack of advance planning. We go through the same battles each evening. Why have I not yet developed a foolproof plan? There has to be a better reply than acknowledging I hear her and telling her she needs to go to sleep.
Finally, I think sleep has claimed her, as I hear the sounds of some heavy finger slurping. I peer in. We lock eyes. This is a full out war. And, the three year old is winning. I give her my best "mean teacher" glare. She hides her face beneath the princess covers and snuggles into her blankie. I am thinking she knows Mommy is not happy.
"Aha!" I think. "I finally have her." Visions of sugarplums begin dancing in my head. I begin to slooooowly lift my bottom (asleep by now--unfortunately the only thing about me that is) off of the floor, careful to avoid the one spot under the carpet that creaks with movement. As I gracefully plan my exit strategy, I hear the rustle of covers and teeny tiny footsteps. I look up from my computer screen to see Lauren standing in front of me. "I forgot to give you a kiss, Mama."
"I love you, Lauren. Go to sleep." I look around to see who is growling, and I realize it is me. She scampers back into her room, and I think that she has to be getting tired. We are going on 45 minutes of this.
I plop back down on the ground. I type a few lines and look up. She looks out the door at me, and before I can scold her, she dashes out and grasps my neck with her scrawny arms. "And a hug, Mama."
"I love you too, honey. Get back in bed." I attempt to control my hostility. After all, she's only 3. But, now, I pull out the big guns. "Lauren Claire, if you don't stay in your bed, I will shut the door. Get in your bed, close your eyes, and GO TO SLEEP." I am practically yelling at this point. I am also imagining retrieving the roll of duct tape from the garage.
"NOOOOOOOOO. I stay in my bed, Mama. I promise."
My breath whooshes out. I type some more and attempt to ignore that she is now sitting at her princess table coloring. I do my best ignoring now. I'm exhausted, and I begin to slump over my computer, wilting. My pride is hurt.
Finally, I glance up, and see that she is lying in her bed. Her curls are fanned out over her pillow, her pink cheeks flushed from the heat of her body. I hear finger sucking. . . I tiptoe into her room, and see her little chest rise and fall. Her long, lush lashes frame her closed eyes. After I stare at her beauty, I have only one thought: I am free.
Until tomorrow night, that is.