Sitting on my mom’s bed as she got dressed for a night out. Her looking in the mirror, freshly showered, hair done, perfume spritzed, necklace clasped. Me quiet. And sad knowing she was heading out for the night. The doorbell would ring and the babysitter would enter. I’d hide quietly behind my mom’s legs dreading her walking out the door with my dad. I knew I had a night full of card games, dessert and TV ahead of me but I still ached with the knowledge that someone Else would be putting me to bed. Helping me brush my teeth. Reading me my goodnight book. Turning out my light.
Many nights I’d grasp onto my mom’s leg as she tried to pry herself away from me. But she’d end up leaving. No matter how many tears I cried. What excuses I gave. She ended up going. And although some nights I fought the babysitter’s attempts to get me to stay in bed and Go To Sleep, I was always ok. I survived. My parents got to enjoy their time away. Their Time Out. And I was no worse for the wear.
Some nights I’d wake in the the wee hours of the morning, missing my parents. Wishing I could crawl into bed with them. Feel their warm bodies next to me and share my mom’s soft, squishy pillow under my little head. But I knew that wasn’t allowed. The times I’d go into my parent’s room in the hours when the moon and stars still twinkled in the sky, my mom would sleepily walk me back to my bedroom, kiss me on the forehead and softly urge me to go back to sleep. And many nights, I’d take my own pillow and small blanket, place them on the floor in the hallway outside my parent’s bedroom door and sleep there. Content knowing they were close. Right behind that door. My mom would wake early as she always did, open her door and find me asleep. Curled against the doorframe. It was not ideal for either of us. My mom was sad with the knowledge that I had been frightened and lonely, overcome with the need to sleep on the hard cold floor. But she was able to get a fine night’s sleep, not knowing her little girl was suffering, however silly it may have been. And I was afraid of making my mom angry, yet too scared to stay alone. But I was satisfied with this compromise of sleeping close by. It worked for me . And I grew out of it, eventually.
Fast forward 33 years. I have this little girl. Suddenly suffering. Unable to let me leave the house, even leave the room. She is scared at night. Having nightmares. She is petrified of my not being there when she’ll need me. Afraid no one else will understand how to take care of her (outside of Tim and her grandparents).
She had gymnastics tryouts this week and I couldn’t leave the room.
She won’t leave my side when I’m in the bathroom, even if it’s to run down the hall to fetch some toiletpaper.
She scolds (yes scolds) me for sitting outside in my swing when she’s in bed. “You can’t leave your Children inside alone Mommy!”
And now she is making me a prisoner in my own house. And I’m at a loss. Sick for her. And pitying myself. She got herself so worked up with sadness with the babysitter on Tim and my anniversary that she ended up throwing up repeatedly and (sorry) pooping all over the floor. On the phone as I drove to the restaurant, I tried to talk her down but she insisted she Needed me immediately. And upon my arriving back home, she admitted she had just been nervous. Very nervous being left with the sitter.
I have not heard from that sitter again.
And last night, when I had a night of cocktails on the water with Tim and his brother and sister-in-law planned, she would not “let” me leave her with the new sitter. She was traumatized. Terrified. Shaking. Unable to be reasoned with. And for fear of another episode with this new babysitter, I again stayed home. Another night ruined. Beyond frustrated. But aching with sadness for my little girl.
Tim believes we should punish her. Not let her irrational behavior win. Not let her be rewarded with our staying home. But I truly believe this is a stage resulting from something deeper than “acting out”. That there is a true fear I need to alleviate. That I need to dig out the roots of this problem and help her heal.
Am I being the gullible, irrational one? Should I show tougher love? Have her find her own way of solving this problem, as I did by sleeping outside my mom’s room in my young scared years? Or do I lay beside her, the way I had only wished my mom would?
Because here I am, feeling tortured. Feeling bullied. Afraid of how long this will last. How far and long this stage will stretch. Will she not let me leave her at Kindergarten in 3 weeks? Will her new gymnastics program fail us as well? Will I never find a babysitter that I won’t worry Hannah will throw up on?
I find these issues that I can relate so deeply to the hardest. Because I remember. I wore her shoes. I felt her pain. And now I’m crying her tears. And I know it’s not right but I’m at a loss for what to do.
Any tips Welcome!!