Right now we’re in this awkward phase with the snicker doodle. If she takes a nap, even a small one, she doesn’t fall asleep until 9 and really wants everyone in the house to be aware she’s awake and ready to party. If she doesn’t take a nap, she begins crying uncontrollably at 6 pm and makes our life miserable for an unspecified time until we finally put her in bed and abandon any hope of giving her bath, dessert or of her participation in family worship.
Clearly if given this scenario on a multiple choice quiz, I would choose “none of the above.” In real life, however, I just have to decide at the beginning of the day which option is the best option for that day and hope that we can get past this stage soon.
It is tempting, when trying to brush the teeth of a screaming toddler, or when aforementioned toddler is standing in her bed screaming, “NO THANK YOU MAMA! NO THANK YOU BED MAMA. ALL DONE BED MAMA,” while her siblings are trying desperately to sleep, it is tempting in those moments to believe that being a parent of three children under six is the hardest parenting gig there is. It is tempting to see people at that stage of parenting when they can say, from a chair, “shower, put on fresh pajamas and go to bed,” and believe that they have gotten past the hard part and really I have it so much harder than they do.
However, as exhausting as these intense preschool years can be, it doesn’t get any easier. It gets differently hard, more nebulously hard, less cut and dried and more situational ethics style hard. While I’m still dealing with bed times and potty training (my two least favorite parental tasks thus far) my friends are dealing with puberty and group dates and if their kids should go to college or not. My problems might be messy and uncomfortable in the here and now, but the older kids get, the more permanent that messy and uncomfortable can be, given the wrong set of choices in the right circumstance. Even now with the two older doodles, I am seeing parenting moving away from “You are not obeying!” into the harder zone of “Is she/he obeying?” It is getting harder as it gets easier.
Two year olds and bedtime is a hard deal. It is draining and frankly when she’s screaming that she’s all done with bed I am feeling that I am all done with bedtime motherhood. It is, however, the end of the easiest hard I’ll ever get.