She crawls out of bed. I hear the tip-toes in the hallway, and sigh. Getting up multiple times to tuck her back in is not that easy these days.
She enters the room and I alert her with, “Audrey, what are you doing?” Immediately, she knows she is in the wrong and starts her plea. “But I miss you, Mama!”
To me, it is obvious. My almost 3-year-old knows how to manipulate perfectly. It is always during nap time or bed time that she lets out the saddest, “I miss you,” or “I need you.”
I am quick to discipline. She knows she is not supposed to be getting out of bed. I ignore the cries and put her back in bed. I’m exhausted.
I lay in bed, ears on high alert for more tip toes, and I think about why she always uses the “I miss you” and “I need you.” Instead of feeling like she intends to put me on a guilt trip to avoid bed, I start thinking that maybe she does just need me and miss me sometimes.
How many more times is she just going to want to cuddle? How many more times is she going to want extra kisses and hugs when we’re tucking her in? How many more times will she even say that she needs or misses me.
I flirt with this thought, and see another careful balance being called to my parenting.
I work so hard on discipline and making sure she knows right from wrong. I am at war constantly with myself trying not to give in and sticking to what I say.
While I think that is all still important, parenting isn’t all about discipline – it is about love and trust. Even to my toddler, I owe her trust and lots of love.
The next bed time, I hear tip toes and catch her in the hallway.
“Audrey, you’re not supposed to get out of bed.”
“But I just miss you, Mama.”
This time, I pick her up, go in her room and sit with her. She lays her head on my shoulder. It is quiet, warm and full of love. I want to bottle it up and save it for later.
After a few minutes, I lay her back down and she doesn’t complain. She just looks at me, smiles and closes her eyes.
Is that really all she wanted? But how many times out of sheer exhaustion and trying to be the tough disciplinary did I rush through, not believe her, not give her the time when all she wanted was a little bit of it?
I know my time is precious, and again, I am convicted to slow down and not let the urgency of life trump over important moments.
An extra story, a short song, a long hug and kiss aren’t going to kill me and certainly isn’t going to make Audrey less disciplined. She is just going to know even more that her mommy loves her.
It is quiet, warm and full of love. I want to bottle it up and save it for later.