Remember this post? Remember how frustrated I was and attempting to be the “tough” mom? Well I finally figured out what was wrong this weekend. My first assumption was the season change, which still could be a factor. I then decided to blame my daycare (of course!) for letting LB sleep 2-3 hours during her nap. Obviously it was affecting her sleep! On Saturday I tested my hypothesis. I didn’t give her a nap at all. She slept maybe 20-30 minutes in the car ride from Farmington, NM but once again, she was walking up the walls at bedtime.
I was completely at a loss, and REALLY pissy by 10:30 pm that night.
Then the truth revealed itself.
The nightly bedtime rejection has been happening more and more frequently since this incident. The anxiety level in LB reached maximum velocity on Saturday night. It became obvious that her emergence from the bedroom was not just a silly toddler game. There was geniune concern on her face. Each time I angrily ushered her back to bed, that concern started morphing into outright fear.
What is was she afraid of? She’s started telling me that there’s “spiders in my bed” and I keep assuring her, “No, spiders live outside, not in your bed.” While strolling through the Halloween section at Target this weekend, she was visibly afraid of the big, hairy, hanging spiders. Maybe she was having spider nightmares and didn’t want to go to sleep?
This was different though. If LB is tired enough, she will eventually pass out, even if she has to throw a minor tantrum first. This time, something wasn’t letting her go to sleep, even though I could clearly see the exhaustion in her eyes. Each time she came out of her room, she asked me to pick her up. At almost 2.5 years old, she rarely asks this anymore. She is Miss Independent.
At this point, the “tough” mommy had failed miserably, and I picked my 26lb child up. Y’all know I’ve been watching a lot of Planet Earth, so immediately I thought of the baby monkeys, clinging to their mama’s chests. That’s what my child was Saturday night: Death Grip Baby Monkey.
As I hugged her and rocked her, she just kept clinging. It was like she had reverted to her 10-month-old self. So I started saying, “This is how I used to rock you when you were a baby.”
All at once, she let go of my neck, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mommy, you come back?”
I was shocked. My daughter was afraid to go to sleep because she thought once I left her room, I wasn’t coming back. It totally broke my heart that I had been trying to brush off her feelings as some 2-year-old bedtime power struggle. When I finally stopped trying to control the situation, the truth came out: she was afraid of abandonment.
So I laid her down, whispering this mantra into her ear until she fell asleep:
Mommy always comes back. I love you. Mommy always comes back.
She slept until morning.
I’ve been focusing so much on how I have to nail this court appearance, that I completely overlooked how all this stress might be affecting my daughter. How Rooferman’s sudden appearance might have had more of an impact than I thought. I’ve been second-guessing LB’s attachment and resilliency, like her dad must not be that important to her. I’m still under the ignorant impression that she’s only 2 and she’s only seen her dad 16 times in the last year and a half, so therefore she must not have bonded to him.
Its obvious how very, very wrong I was.
P.S. I also broke the news to Rooferman’s parents this weekend, that I would be taking him to court for custody. I cried a little bit, because they’ve already been through so much legal crap with him, and I really don’t want to add to that pain. They hugged me, thanked me for telling them and told me they support me completely. Yeah, I’m lucky as hell they love me and LB so much.