As I type, it is not far from my mind that exactly one month from today, the Mad Hatter will be 5.
When did this happen? HOW did this happen?
How can it be that my little girl, whose birth feels like it was yesterday, is going to be half a decade old???
And why is it that every year, right around this time, as we approach yet another birthday, I find myself wondering why she seems to be regressing in age instead of moving forward?
She amazes me all year long with her new skills and abilities, her newfound knowledge and independence, the things she seemingly couldn't do a week ago, yet today can do like a pro.
And then the last month of the year, it's as though something stops. And we start going backwards.
I start to sound like a broken record. "How old are you going to be?" She, in turn, inserts the appropriate answer, and I wonder aloud whether she's really going to be a year younger because that's how she's acting.
In my experience of motherhood, thing have only gotten ugly around here a few times. For almost 5 years of parenthood, I'd say that's not so bad.
Last night was ugly. With a capital U.G.L.Y.
She has been fighting bedtime. Calling us back with silly excuses. Coming out of her room repeatedly. Driving us out of our minds. At times it's endearing and I totally play right into it - seriously, could you look at this face and resist just one more kiss and hug because she loves you so very much?
So, back to last night. The behavior started during her bedtime routine. She was overly tired, which tends to rile her up. Her unusually obnoxious behavior managed to cost her both story and snuggle time (which is really also a punishment for me). This, as with most things, did not seem to phase my spirited little girl in the slightest.
She suffers from allergies and takes 3 medications daily to help her cough, which gets worse when she lies down at night. Most of the time it's legit, but lately she helps that cough along so she has additional reasons to come get a drink of water, reel one of us in for an extra snuggle, and generally milk these two weary parents who admittedly often give in because a) we know she's going to be our one and only and before we know it, the days of her actually begging us to snuggle for just one more song will be long gone, and b) it's often the path of least resistance.
Anyhow, I digress.
After a bout with a very bad wheezing cough that required breathing treatments every 4 hours for almost two weeks, we've been continuing to do breathing treatments at night to help minimize the coughing even more. Normally, she's a champ, but she was being completely uncooperative. Panting instead of breathing correctly, pulling away from the inhaler, you name it. After 2 warnings, I simply stopped what I was doing, told her that it was now her problem if her cough bothered her all night, kissed her goodnight, and left her room.
I was beyond put-a-fork-in-me done, so I told her I loved her, sweet dreams, and that I'd be closing her door (which we normally leave open a bit) so if she coughed too much, the noise wouldn't bother me.
Fast forward 20 seconds. If I were a betting girl and had the time, I'd have put money on something about what was coming next. Cue the hysteria. The 15+ times she came out of her room. The tantrums as she stood in one spot stomping her feet and demanding the breathing treatment. My repeatedly asking her in the same calm, monotone voice to please return to her room and get in her bed because I could and would not talk to her while she continued to behave this way.
And then the ultimate, as I sat at my computer, trying distract myself by reading about people's bra colors on Facebook and convince myself that this, too, would pass.
"Mommy, I need to tell you something important. If you want me to cry all night and get the spit-ups (yep, she's cried herself to point-vomit before, so we tend to remind her that she should calm down if she's having a fit of hysteria) then leave me alone. But if you don't, you'll take me back to bed, rock me, snuggle with me, and say 'I'm sorry for hurting your feelings, MH'."
Seriously, 4 and 11/12 - is she really intelligent enough to think through and communicate such an articulate ultimatum?
I've know it for a long time but the denial is coming to an end - the first five years have been the ride of our lives, but we ain't seen nothin' yet!