When Edie was a baby, we had a great bedtime ritual of reading some stories together in her room, and then we’d put her in her crib, and walk out the of the room. It was lovely. It was easy. When she outgrew her crib and into a big girl bed, it was a seamless transition. It took her a few weeks to figure out she could get up by herself now, she didn’t have to wait for us to come get her out of her crib. Those were some glorious weeks I tell you. Sadly, they soon gave way to what were a solid 6 weeks of some spectacular bedtime meltdowns. Hours of screaming. Pat & I wondering what sort of bizzare parent world we’d stepped into, what happened to our dear sweet gal. It was hell. Eventually, we got them to stop, but it seemed every night our little snuggle bug would throw that sweet, chubby little wrist around your neck in this way that was like a headlock and say in that sweet voice of hers ‘I need a snnnuuuuggle’ after you finished reading. And you just knew the snuggle was the way to avoid the meltdown. But the snuggle also sucked you in and too many times whichever parent had bedtime duties would go down for the count, seriously cutting into our childfree evenings together.
As time went on, the snuggle had a nice chat, where she would review the events of her day. This summer, we got her into the habit of putting herself to bed, where she read to herself and there was no snuggle, every night. We would still go tuck her in and some nights, we’d have a good chat. Ah, bedtime was easy and hands free again. Pat & I could say goodnight to her and then be able to hang out together. It was glorious. Of course, this lasted only a few weeks.
Third grade started off with a bang and hasn’t really relented. It’s a bitch quite frankly. The school year started off with multiple changes at school. There was something different, a new teacher, a new principal, a new schedule 5 weeks in(!), every week for the first 6 weeks of school. There was no routine to be settled into, because it was different every week. Edie got some bug going around and missed an entire week of school, second week in. When she went back the following Monday, her class had changed. They had added a teacher and moved kids around. She came home saying she felt like she was in a foriegn country. And then there’s the social stuff. The mean girls business. A few months into the year, she had a falling out with her bff. The whole, one day I’m your friend, one day I’m not is quite big in third grade right now. And then there has been more school drama. We had to have a meeting with the principal last week about her teacher. And it’s only February. There is so much time left for this year to just continue to go downhill.
Bedtime often has these chats about events in her days that leave me exhausted. I don’t have a blueprint for this motherhood stuff, I really am just winging it as I go. I am creating the mother-daughter relationship I always wanted and some days it’s really hard work. There are days where I annoy her. There are times when she thinks I’m utterly ridiculous. Awkward is her current favorite word, uttered in a most sarcastic tone of course and a little too frequently at me at times. She’s definitely a tween and that’s a whole other ball of wax. Navigating her through a world of mean girls that I didn’t fare so well in myself definitely challenges me. Watching her friendship with the friend she thought she could count on the most transform into something less sturdy has been heartwrenching. There are things I just can’t fix. It’s not as easy as kissing a skinned knee or distracting her with a popsicle. Motherhood has gotten to be all mental and it’s getting heavy.
A few weeks ago, she told me about a conversation at the lunch table among some of the girls. She was taken aback that some of them don’t tell their mothers everything. She told me, she actually felt bad for them, because if you can’t tell your mother everything, who can you tell that stuff to?
Well, all I could do after she said that was to hug her tight. I’m pretty sure no one has uttered words that mean more to me than that. Those bedtime chats sometimes come at the end of very long days, days where I wonder why she is so far out of sorts and I’m just done. I have to rally myself to get through them. I often come out of her room and go straight to bed, because they do me in. She doesn’t know this though. She just thinks her mommy is the best mommy and she can pour her heart out to me at the end of every day.
And this is exactly what gets me through.