The Downside

February 20, 2008

It was early morning, just about the time the sun started to rise.  BabyN woke up hungry and proceeded to cry to let me know of his desperate need for milk.  I stumble bleary-eyed into the boys’ room to rescue BabyN from his bed before he wakes up his big brother.  As I open the door, I am greeted with a happy squeal and a toddler rushing towards me.  Ignoring him and still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I proceed to BabyN’s crib where I grab him and make a mad rush for the door.  PJ follows.

I have to make a split-second decision using my sleep-deprived judgment skills.  Do I let PJ out to play, several hours before he usually gets up?  Can I handle my extra-stubborn and -mischievious toddler when we’re both short on sleep?  Both of us being cranky is a recipe for disaster.  Would it be better to leave him in his room, hoping beyond all hope that he’ll break his own rule for once and go back to sleep after dawn?  Can I handle the screaming that will ensue when I do so?

I mumble something to PJ about how he needs to go back to sleep and swiftly close the door behind me, trapping him in his room.  Immediately, loud screams emanate from the room, barely muffled by the door.  Guilt eats at me as I head back to my room to nurse BabyN from bed.  It’s bad enough that I expect to give up and live with a ticked-off toddler as soon as BabyN quits eating.  I hate being forced into such a position–either doing what I know is probably best for the situation and feeling guilty about it or doing what I think other people might think is right and giving in to PJ’s every whim and suffering for it.  I hate feeling like either a bad mom or a martyr.

Eventually the screaming stops.  I occasionally hear a happy squeal or some chattering from the boys’ room, but nothing to indicate he’s truly unhappy about my decision.  Then BabyN dozes off in my arms.  Reluctant to move him, I give in to my original decision and relish the moments with my youngest.  After some time, I drifted off as well.

Did PJ go back to sleep?  I have no idea.  He’s defying every rule he’s ever been given this morning, often only seconds after I remind him of it, and he’s had to go to time-out twice already (usually a last resort).  I have every reason to suspect he’s been awake since dawn.  Yes, I feel a bit guilty for leaving him in his room awake for all that time, but it was with the intention of getting him to fall back asleep.  And it’s not as though he was unhappy about it. 

But I’m still questioning my wisdom in that decision.  I feel like I was forced to make a bad decision or a worse one.  Did I do the right thing?  I wish I knew.  But apparently I’m the only one worse for the wear by it, and that’s only in my insistence upon reliving that moment at the door, whether or not I closed the door on my firstborn.  Sometimes this mommying business can be difficult.