Am I too strict or too lenient? Am I disregarding my kid’s deep anxieties, or am I being taken for a ride by a manipulative three year old? It’s the maternal equivalent of “virgin or whore” and the organizing dichotomy of my parenting psyche. In times of ease and equilibrium, I don’t worry about it, but when things start to go pear-shaped I always feel like I’m on one awful end of the spectrum or the other—or sometimes, impossibly, both at once—and never in between.
Ingrid is still worried that her diaper is going to fall off. Last night the out-loud worry started a good half-hour before bedtime, making me think this is an actual fear and not just a stall tactic. So, bitch. Right?
But then I decided to go to bed myself just when I put her down (8:30), and guess what? There was no crying in bed, no getting up. Seems like she knew the party was over, so didn’t need to try to stay up for it. Chump, then.
Of course, my screaming on Wednesday put me solidly in bitch territory, no matter what the real story was on her end. If I step back and look at this like a nicely put together piece of literature, it seems like that’s my real, deep-down reason for yelling: To get out of the uncomfortable ambiguous zone and solidly into territory where I can hate myself. (Then I step back into my actual shoes and think: Nope. It’s just because sometimes I’m frustrated as hell.)
A is back (yay!). He volunteered to do the bedtime routine, even after I whispered the story of the past three nights’ antics. Knock yourself out, I said. He came down the stairs about three minutes ago, and all seems to be normal and peaceful up there. We’ll see if it lasts. If she comes wandering down the stairs wailing, she will find me on the couch reading a book, and she will not see me move except to blow her a little kiss.