There's something that I've heard parents say about parenthood.
The days are long, but the years are short.
Just the other night, I found myself entrenched in one of the longest days I'd had in awhile. And the day itself was so sweet. We ventured outside, exploring the trails and fields on our property. We laughed at our newly acquired chickens and we watched my hard-working-husband wrench on motorcycles, preparing for an upcoming race. The leaves have been changing and falling, and they were crunchy on the ground beneath our rubber farm boots. The air was crisp outside, but inside it smelled of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and nighttime bubble bath. The day was sweet. Oh, so sweet. And then nighttime came.
We've been deep in the Battle of Bedtime for the past few weeks. And it's quite the battle. I found myself doing our routine with the little one alone - bath time, pj's, (maybe a little television), brushing teeth, books, bedtime. And I had my eye on the clock. I was tired. I hadn't been sleeping and I was coming down with what was going to be a nasty cold. And the clock, it kept ticking. And our daughter, she wasn't having anything to do with bedtime.
We were almost there - and then it was potty time. And then we were almost there again, but she wanted yogurt. And then, water and dance parties and Daniel Tiger and more books and for goodness sake, I just couldn't. My own eyelids were heavy and my patience was short.
And, there I was. On her perfect twin bed, underneath her perfect cozy blankets, with this perfect little face looking up at me.
"Mama, Bubble Guppies!" I exhaled. I asked her to close her eyes. She replied, "No want to."
It was ten-thirty p.m. I was thinking of all of the reasons she needed to be sleeping. Brain development. Her body growing at a rapid pace. The fact that I need to sleep too. Or, this article. No pressure, right?
I couldn't take it anymore. I had to call in my reinforcements. My sick, tired body needed rest and I was at the end of my rope. It happened. As the hubs was hurriedly making his way from our shop to the house to take over, I wept. A short, brief moment of weakness. I couldn't control it. I exhaled, and I cried. It was just for a second, but it happened.
And she saw me. She saw the hot, wet tears fall from the corners of my eyes and she saw my tired hand wipe them away. And she said, "Mama sad. I get Mama a Kleenex." Off she went, wearing Hello Kitty pajamas on her body and a concerned look on her face.
I felt guilty and broken and about to stand on the number one spot on the podium for winning the worst mom award. She saw me feel defeated. She saw me break. Does she think I'm broken? Does she think it's her fault? Someone hand me my medal already.
She brought me a tissue and we snuggled until her dad arrived. He swept her up, took her outside for another breath of fresh autumn air and a look at the stars in the sky, before returning her to her bed for more books, more songs, and more snuggles. I drifted off to dreamland.
I awoke from the fog, and the guilt was heavy. And then it hit me.
Breaking is good. Breaking is real. Strength is asking for help sometimes.
I don't want our daughter to be afraid of her feelings, no matter how raw or unpredictable they may seem. I want her to own exactly who she is, and how she's feeling and sometimes that means breaking down so you can build yourself up. I want her to know that I don't have all of the answers, but between her dad and me, we will sure do our best to show her the stars in our sky every single time.