If another mother told me this story I am sure I would say “it’s not your fault” and “it’s just their age” and “you’re doing just fine”. But it’s not another mother, it’s me, and I am struggling.
Miss Rose has for a long time been a star at bedtime, charging up the stairs for “paste and teeth”, climbing into bed to listen to her story, have her milk, and snooze. It was so much of a guarantee that I didn’t worry about it at all, we just got on with it. It’s changed.
Last night was crisis point for me and resulted in me curled in a ball crying into The Boy’s lap, who had come upstairs after hearing the wailing from both of us through the baby monitor, whilst Miss Rose spat, shouted, and thrashed around. She was so angry, and so very upset, and so so tired that the anger and upset just got heightened.
“What am I doing wrong?” I asked The Boy.
In the next bed over was Z, sleeping soundly, who had fallen asleep within ten minutes of Harry Potter being read. Z had always been the bedtime challenge whilst Miss Rose was the easy one we could rely on to settle. Now, for whatever reason, Z will go off to sleep fine whilst Miss Rose is more and more frequently having a nuclear explosion size meltdown, complete with violence.
What am I doing wrong?
The Boy assures me that I am doing nothing wrong but she is a toddler and they go through phases. I know that, and I understand it, and I would say the exact same thing to any other mother. But seeing her in that state breaks me and makes me doubt my abilities as a mother.
In the morning, once we are all up having survived the night, the next challenge begins.
In between the squabbling and fighting that accompanies a morning alone with two year old step-siblings comes the challenge of breakfast. This instance is not a challenge for Miss Rose who happily hoovers down most food that is set in front of her, but no matter what I do, no matter what I try, I cannot get Z to eat for me.
This morning I put out two bowls of cereal, Miss Rose tucked into hers, Z pointedly ignored his. I tried a trick I have seen his grandmother use with success and sat him on my lap, and spoon fed some cereal into his mouth which he then spat out in fury. I gave up and, when Miss Rose had scoffed her cereal, I took the bowls away and made toast. I set the toast out, Miss Rose started in on hers whilst Z ignored his. I encouraged him but he howled and ran away. I didn’t force it and Rose soon cottoned on to this and ate his too. Last night she ate his dinner because equally he refused it.
I feel like a failure. I cannot get him to eat. I cannot get Miss Rose to settle calmly anymore.
Some how I have lost all the parenting skills that I so relied on and I am at a loss.
Last night I was so emotionally drained and exhausted from the entire experience that I could barely stay awake and had to go to bed early. Today I find myself profusely apologising for my failed efforts to his grandmother, who, just as The Boy did, assured me no apology was needed and that it isn’t my fault.
But I feel it. I am finding it hard, and admitting that is at times a bigger challenge than actually dealing with the situations with which I am presented.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!