"It's nap time," I said.
"Okay, mommy," she said. "Three books. The Rapunzel one, too."
"Two books, okay? Now come sit down, please."
We read books, cuddling, happily and calmly. Then she wanted a different toy before going in her crib. Then another, different toy. Then she wanted to get a toy for her toy. Then she rummaged through every toy basket looking for one particular toy that didn't turn up.
"Enough, Eisley. Grab your Rapunzel and let's get to your nap."
She wanted water. Then she wanted another book. Then she wanted more water. Then she threw her blanket, her doll, her other blanket, anything she could find within her reach. Over the next ten minutes, I was in and out of the room over and over, trying to calm her down and get her to curl up with her blanket and go to sleep. She yelled at me, punched the air in my direction and crossed her arms with a huge sigh.
I walked out and she hollered for five minutes straight while I watched the minutes tick by on my phone. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
Some days, nap time is a fight. It's a rare occasion—or at least, it used to be, until recently. As we get closer to her third birthday, she has picked up the art of distraction and will sometimes do anything within her power to delay the nap time or bedtime process. This is new, so it's tough to deal with, but I've been working hard to be more intentional with my patience during moments like these. Granted, I'm not always successful, but I'm working on it. Hard.
I finally walked back in and she was still wailing angrily. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
"Okay, Eisley, here's your doll. Now lay down with your blankie."
Surprisingly, she calmed down immediately. I never know when she's ready to wave the white flag during moments like these, but it's always a relief.
"Sing to me, mommy."
"Okay. What song?"
"Twinkle twinkle, little star."
She finally curled up with her blanket and I stroked her sweaty little forehead while singing softly. This is the second day in a row I've had to do this, and as much as I dread creating a new bad habit and giving into her demands, there are times I just have to give in. And sing. And watch her eyes grow heavy. And look at this tiny person, so full of energy and personality and life, and try to just savor the moment. I sing, and am glad that something so simple—after almost twenty minutes of fighting sleep and screaming and throwing things—has the power to calm her and comfort her.
Lately, I feel like every day is filled with battle-picking and meltdown-avoiding. This age is so exciting, entertaining and completely amazing, but it also manages to launch me back into survival mode at times, and it's all I can do to not have a meltdown myself. My daughter is old enough now that I'm very aware of how nearly everything I do has an impact on her, which means I have to be so careful with my reactions, my encouragements, my words, my attitude. It is a lot to carry, and many days it feels like one step forward, two steps back.
But along I go, because no matter what I end up doing right or wrong, there is always another day. I have to keep reminding myself that I've done more good than bad, and that she gives me more grace than perhaps I realize. I wonder if someday she'll remember my brushing her sweaty bangs off of her forehead and singing her to sleep.
I hope she remembers those things, and knows how hard I always try to be the mother she needs.