tripping the life unbalanced

Monday, February 20, 2006

one little monkey jumping on the bed

Yesterday, we finally did something that we've been meaning to do for some time now. Yesterday, Alice became a big girl. Yesterday, we took down the crib and set up the single bed in Alice's room. Yesterday, my daughter and I experienced our first true fight as mother and daughter. Yesterday, my baby said goodbye to being a baby.

We figured now that Alice is ALMOST THREE, that maybe just maybe it was time for us to move her to a bigger bed. We have kept her in the crib for two main reasons 1) she hasn't really acted on a desire to climb out yet and 2) I was dreading the freedom she would have once out on her own. Mainly the reason was number 2) because I can selfish like that.

And so, yesterday morning we decided once and for all to change Alice's baby room into her big girl room. We already had the bed, we just had to make the change. She was more than ready, and we knew it was high time to let her roam free. The whole thing took no longer than an hour, and suddenly we had a very excited little girl jumping on her new bed. She took to it immediately. Closing the door, lying on her bed, reading books, and listening to music. (is she already 15?) She was very very happy that we had made this change, and was all ready to embrace it. Until naptime.

Now I was prepared for the naptime to be a little different. I knew that she wouldn't necessarily even sleep, but that it was important for her to try resting on the new bed at least. But it was like we poured acid all over an open wound. After about 10 minutes of reading quietly on her bed, she ventured out in the hall to my bedroom where I was also reading. "Go back to your bed please, Alice" I tried gently. She glared at me with the force of a angry 16 year old. "I don't like you anymore" she yelled at me and slammed her door. I was stunned, and then angry myself. What ensued in the next hour was a continuum of attempted conversation, to a screaming toddler, to a wagging finger, to a thrown dolly, to a screaming mommy. Whenever I opened the door to see if she was ready to talk, I would get a furrowed brow thrown my way and a strong "get out!" I was convinced she was possessed, and actually said to Matt at one point "I think she has turned psychotic on us."

Looking back on the whole experience, I wished I had dealt with it a little differently. I wished I had remained patient the entire time, instead of losing my cool. But it was like we were actually having a fight - like she understood exactly what she was doing and saying. Like she had grown up suddenly, and I was starting to realise how quickly we had reached the stereotypical but inevitable mother-daughter war.

In the end, I finally reached her by asking "why are you so upset?" She collapsed against me, crying, saying "I don't know how to go to sleep!" Oh god. I felt terrible. Here I was, responding to her as if she were an adult, and suddenly remembering that she was still a little girl who just had a huge change thrown at her. For three years now, she has fallen asleep either in her own crib or in our bed. Never once has she fallen asleep not surrounded by the crib bars or us on either side. What a mind fuck it must be to sleep with everything open around you. Like newborns when they first come into the world, and want to be swaddled to remind them of being in the womb. This was going to be like sleep training all over again.

In any case, there were apologies and tears on both our ends and I think that it actually was a good thing for our burgeoning mother-child relationship. Because the baby really is gone, and I have to accept the little girl who has replaced her. And it is our responsibility as parents to help her into this new world of hers.

Last night was a little better. It took her a few hours to fall asleep in the new bed, but we were both way more relaxed about it. At one point I went in to check on her and she held out her hand and said "hold my hand for a moment, mommy" I gladly agreed, and as she closed her eyes she said "we love each other."

No truer words were ever spoken.

7 Comments:

  • you're making me cry over here. thank you for sharing this stuff. i love the way you write. it's so compelling and honest.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:44 p.m.  

  • Oh, ouch. Just ouch. But you both did the best you could, and it's hard when both moms and daughters have to grow at the same time. Warm wishes for all the best.

    By Blogger Marla, at 12:27 a.m.  

  • Oh my God! I totally teared up. And I don't think it's because I'm on my second glass of wine. How did you find my blog and where have you been all my life? What do you do? I need to go reread your profile but I am going to link to you.

    By Blogger Stefanie, at 11:19 p.m.  

  • Sweet ending.

    By Blogger Mom Underground, at 3:19 p.m.  

  • Awww.

    May I suggest a nap-time CD? It helped significantly with C, no so much with A, but she has always been a lousy sleeper. We got a soothing CD and told him to just lie in bed and listen to it. When it was over he could get up (so find a long one or make a long one). Most of the time he ended up falling asleep.

    By Blogger chichimama, at 6:58 a.m.  

  • Fully bawling.

    By Blogger scarbie doll, at 12:44 a.m.  

  • I love your writing. Like one of the PP said, your post nearly made me cry. My oldest daughter is twenty months and my youngest is nearly six months. We tried to transition the oldest to a toddler bed so the youngest could have the crib, but it didn't work out. Like you said, there is a comfort on the crib (and it's bars) and I gave up easily cause I like that I can lay her in the crib, and after some playing around she puts herself to sleep! I love your blog!

    By Anonymous ceebee, at 1:52 p.m.  

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