Wednesday, October 6, 2010

and so we cried...

I don't even know where to begin... I am so mentally exhausted and frustrated. you know what I am? I am tired. Plain and simple. I am tired of Ella being SO difficult to parent. I don't understand why she has to physically and mentally drain me of my joy in stay at home parenting and my mental energy on almost a daily basis. Seems harsh? Well welcome to my rage against the mini van bad Mommy moment then. Let me paint you a portrait of how I have been spending my last 75 minutes, and possibly some insight into the last 4 years.

I'm woken up at 12:45am by Ella telling me "I need some milk in order to go back to sleep." hmmm... really. Nice Mommy tells her quietly she can not have any milk but I will bring her water. She starts throwing a tantrum. Nice Mommy quickly covers her mouth and carries her back to her room explaining I don't want her to wake up Ryen or Daddy and she needs to go back to sleep. Tantrum gets louder. Nice Mommy lays in bed with her for 20 minutes rubbing her hair to help her fall asleep all the while watching her FIGHT sleep. Every time her eyelids get heavy and they close for a few seconds she snaps them open again. WTH? Nice Mommy tells her to keep her eyes closed and she should be asleep soon. Time for Mommy to go. Kiss Kiss. Nice Mommy walks out and closes door.

Tantrum #2 starts immediately. She wants me to leave her door open. She knows before she even asks me that my answer is going to be no. Now in this case I would've been willing to break that rule and leave it open till she fell asleep if I thought for one second it would work. But been there, done that. It doesn't work. Cause I have been through hundreds of these scenarios with Ella since she was born and I knew she was FAR from letting the milk issue drop. This was just another tantrum to keep me engaged in battle. Now calm Mommy is telling her, she knows I cant keep the door open that we always close it, and she needs to roll over and go to sleep.

Tantrum #3 20 minutes of screaming, gagging, and Oscar performance whining from her room. sidenote: I don't know if this is where I go wrong. Maybe other parents can lay in their beds and drift into slumber knowing their child is screaming herself to sleep down the hall. I cant do it. My heart races and I have so much stress and anxiety. I cant help but worry about how long it will take her to cry herself to sleep and how tired she is going to be tomorrow and hence how much of a nightmare cranky child she is going to be. I would rather just see if I can help her fall asleep. So after 20 minutes Angry Mommy goes in there and tells her that's enough! No more crying. That she is almost 4 yrs old and is acting like a baby. What does she do? Asks me for milk!!!! Again!!!!! I tell her my answer is still no. Oh boy CRYING starts again...

Tantrum #4. So I tell her Dr Stevenson and her Dentist told Mommy I am NO longer allowed to give her milk in the middle of the night under any circumstances. She doesn't care. Now I am angry at myself and KICKING myself cause guess what? This is all my fault... yup it is... cause a few mornings ago she woke up at 5am and was having a hard time falling back to sleep. Since she normally gets up at 6:30am and has a full sippy of milk at that time, I offered her (against my better judgment) a half cup of milk (only cause it was so close to morning) and I gave her the other half when she woke up at 7am. 7!! See worked like a charm didn't it? Sidenote: I even told her when I gave that milk to her the other morning, that Mommy was doing it that ONE TIME ONLY to help her fall back to sleep and that I was not going to do it again. I warned her don't start coming in my room asking me for milk cause I will say No. I am only doing it this ONE TIME. Now why do you think I would have to make that statement to her when giving her a harmless bit of milk to help her back to sleep? Catching on yet? Does something tell you I have been down this road a hundred times before too!? Yup! Anyway, back to this tantrum. This time I threaten to take away the computer all day tomorrow if she doesn't stop crying and go to sleep. She ignores me and keeps crying, so I rack up that punishment quickly. I ask her if she is ready to stop crying so she doesn't lose more privileges... She isn't done yet. So I leave again.

Tantrum #5 For ten minutes I lay in bed staring at the lights on her monitor telling me she is crying hysterically. I get up and go in and this time Furious Mommy says nothing. I am completely frozen just arms crossed staring at her. She stops crying immediately and stares at me back. She keeps looking away every so often but she holds my gaze for what seems like forever. She knows when she sees frozen Mommy I am FURIOUS! So I calmly tell her to lay down, roll over and close her eyes. Which she does. And I stand there watching and waiting for her to fall asleep. And watch her fight it some more. And so I tell her I have been up long enough (it is now 1:30am and we have been at this 45 minutes) and I start to leave. I don't even make it to the door and she starts screaming. So I park my butt on her floor in my underwear, completely freezing, completely exhausted and I sit there waiting her out. Waiting for her to stop crying. And while I am waiting for her start crying, all this frustration you are reading and all this anger and resentment I am feeling starts swelling... and so we cried... both of us. Me on the floor in my underwear and her in her bed. Her hearing me cry actually makes her stop. For 15 minutes I cry on her floor while she sniffles herself to sleep... or so I think. I go to leave the room at 2am and she asks me to turn on her nightlight before I go. So I do. And I come out here to blog, knowing there is no sense in my getting back in my bed, cause this is far from over. And every time I try to go back to bed, I risk waking up Jimmy and Ryen by letting her just scream herself to sleep. (And because as said above, I can't bring myself to just go to bed knowing one of my kids is screaming...)

See the problem is, I would LOVE to be more laid back and less rigid and strict and more go with the flow when it came to Ella. In fact I have NO problem being that way with Ryen. But Ella has trained me over time to know that if I give her a inch she will demand a mile. If I deviate from any rule once, she will demand it every time. Which is fine, I don't have a problem with a kid trying to play the odds that they will get Mommy to break a rule again.... not at all. I expect it at this age. But what I have a problem with is the all out epic battle that ensues when I refuse to break that rule again. Like I OWE it to her, like she is ENTITLED to it, all because I was NICE enough to give in once before. So for my own sanity and to avoid 2 hour long BATTLES I have to be a HARD ASS all the time. And say no. All the time. To lots of things. To the point where I look like a control freak or bossy. Mommy can I stay up 10 more minutes and watch the end of this show? My heart wants so bad to say yes. And sometimes unfortunately it does. Seems harmless right? Till the next TWO weeks when she will cry and pitch a fit at bedtime EVERY NIGHT to get those extra 10 minutes again that I let her have the other day. And it leaves me SO MAD at her for being ungrateful that I was nice enough to give her those 10 minutes a few days ago, and SO MAD at MYSELF for thinking this time it will be different, and putting myself through it.

And I would love to not care if she does cry herself to sleep and it takes her an hour. I would gladly do that, to show her that NO means no in this house, whether it is 2pm or 12am. I would love to not care if she wants to start her day at 5am instead of 6:30am, or if she wants to sing/play in her room till 9pm before falling asleep instead of going to sleep at 7:30pm. But I can't. Cause when that kid is short on sleep she is a basket case. Partly cause no matter how tired she is the next day she will not nap. She will literally be so tired she cries if you even look at her sideways, but will. not. nap. Not even if I lay with her, not even if I put her in there and leave her in there for 2-3 hours. She will play and/or scream and cry the entire time. So because she wont nap she will be cranky, act up, not listen, fight with her sister and me and Jimmy all day long. Till bedtime. 12 hours later. Oh and even though by bedtime she should be SO exhausted that she should probably fall asleep on the playroom floor or as soon as she hits the pillow... nope not her. Most nights when she is overtired going to bed, she will fight sleep some more, sometimes crying and getting out of bed over and over, thus perpetuating the lack of sleep to another full day. Yay... and endless vicious cycle.

And thus I am stuck at not knowing what to do. Supernanny's arsenal doesn't work on my kid. I have tried every advice she has, bought and read all her books. What she doesn't tell you is that those tactics work on most kids. But not ridiculously stubborn strong willed children like Ella. They have the stamina, and excuse my language, but the balls to push and push and push when most kids would have given up. To keep crying and fighting when most kids wouldn't dare. And maybe all of this could be solved if I was parenting in the 70's or 80's when it was perfectly acceptable to slap the shit out of your child for such behavior and tactics. And basically put your children "back in line" by using fear. But since I wont do that, where does that leave me...? Lost.

Oh, I should tell you I started writing this post at 2:05am. At 2:38am Ella knocked on her bedroom door. When I opened it- she asked me for milk. Can you believe it?? I told her no (AGAIN!!!!) and asked her to get back in bed. She threw herself on the floor and started crying telling me she cant fall asleep without it. I told her no matter how many times she asks me for milk I was not going to change my answer. The answer will always be no. At this point it is an epic test of wills. I know I could do the lazy thing right now and give her the milk and I know she and I would BOTH be in bed asleep within 10 minutes. But I CAN NOT GIVE IN NOW. Not after this long. So I am going to have a completely cranky, unproductive, shitty day tomorrow where I am a walking zombie for this lack of sleep she and I both are enduring. It is now 2:53am and she has been in there screaming and crying "Daddy" for the last 20 minutes. She is now realizing she may have better luck with him. Not gonna happen.

I should also tell you that Ryen also woke up about 2:15am as I was sitting here typing this. I went in her room and she too asked me for milk. So determined I am to not make this mistake with her that we made with Ella, I told her no. I brought her a cup of water. Was she upset? Sure. Did she throw a tantrum too? Sure. Hers? About 5 minutes. All it took was me going in there a couple times to tell her Mommy said no, you can have milk in the morning. Rubbing her head a little bit and coaxing her to lay down and go back to sleep. And she did. End of tantrum. Although now at 3am I can tell Ella's screaming (which is still going on in the next room) is stirring her awake again... So as she knocks on her door again I go in and this time she tells me she is scared of the dark. I tell her it is a good thing she has not one, but TWO nightlights that are blazingly bright in her room it is not the least bit dark. She then says, oh but I had a bad dream. Hmmm... well I say hug Hello Kitty stuffed animal close your eyes and go back to sleep and I bet you wont have another bad dream. She says... "no I just need some milk to not have any bad dreams"

... so my final bad Mommy moment, act of desperation was a full blown lie that I just told my child. I just convinced her that I dumped every drop of milk we have in the THREE gallons sitting in our fridges down the drain and threw it all in the garbage. That we have NO milk at all right now, and that IF and ONLY if she goes to sleep right now and stops crying, I just MIGHT go to the store in the morning and buy some milk. She was shocked. And guess what...? It is 3:05am and she is finally silent. For now... and I think I am going to actually try to go back to bed.

2hours and 15 minutes later. Now I wrote this post partly to vent and get it all out so that I have any CHANCE of falling asleep now that I am going back to bed. If I didn't get it out I would probably lay in bed angry and frustrated. I already feel so much better. I also wrote this post partly because I have a strong community of Moms out there who may be able to send me some advice for how to handle this girl. She is only like this for me and Jimmy, here at home. She doesn't do these things at school. And I am also writing this post cause I promised myself I would use this blog to chronicle the Good, the Beautiful, the Bad and the Ugly. To help me remember. To help other Moms not feel alone. And to help me get it all out. Luckily for me 80% of what appears on this blog is Good. So maybe all is not lost after all. And look at that... I may actually go to bed with a smile on my face. :)

Update: I literally hit publish on this post at 3:11am and heard a voice calling me Mommy at 3:19am. She had been quiet for 19 minutes. When I went in to see what she was calling me for now... get this... she cant stop having nightmares. When I ask her about what, she says "Everything scary" but wont get specific. And she says now the only thing that will help her is me letting her get out of bed and watch TV. Hmmm... like I am really gonna be crazy enough to start that precedence. So now she is back to screaming again, and it looks like I am not going to bed anytime soon after all. :(

Final Update: due to her complaining about nightmares I finally asked if she wanted Mommy to sleep with her. We have tried this too in the past and it usually doesn't work cause she just wants to talk and play with us, or she tells us she doesn't want us to sleep with her. This time she said yes. So I said ok, and am praying that she doesn't start asking me to sleep with her every night. Again every time I agree to do something, I have to prepare myself for the possibility that she will ask for it every night. It took she and I both till well after 4am to fall asleep in her bed together. At 6am I snuck out to my own bed. She slept till about 7ish. We are both now short almost 4 hours of sleep from last nights stand off. She is going to school today but I will telling her teacher to let me know if she needs to go home...

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