The thing about the statement that doing something repeatedly and expecting to get a different result is the definition of insanity is, that it renders many of parenthood’s tasks not just irritating, tedious, or frustrating, but mentally discombobulating, too. In my experience, one of the requirements of parenthood is a willingness to do something over and over and over again, because that is what it takes for a baby or toddler to learn. And learning to give that, with patience and love, is definitely a growth opportunity for me. The twins have learned that they don’t have to stay in their beds, and that on the other side of their bedroom door is the laundry room, and on the other side of the door at the far end of the laundry room is our bedroom.
This new knowledge has created new challenges around bed and naptime. Tonight I put each of them back in their beds so many times I lost count, but it had to be something well over ten. And that’s a minimum of twenty peregrinations across a pitch-black bedroom chanting our bedtime mantra, “It’s time to relax and go to sleep” while simultaneously promising myself, inside my head, “I will not step on/trip over/crash into my child, I will not step on/trip over/crash into my child, I will not step on/trip over/crash into my child.” I didn’t. And eventually, the twins went from getting up in order to find me or leave the room, to merely sitting up in bed howling; and then they acceded to lying in bed crying with vigor; and then, eventually, they reluctantly acquiesced to alternating whimpers and less pointed crying; and then, there were periods of quiet; and finally, they slept, though Emily continued to have that post-sobbing catch in her breath for a long time after she’d succumbed to the pull of slumber.
The second time I came out into my bedroom where Hazel was, extremely patiently waiting for me to read her a book and snuggle with her, Joanna started crying again. Hazel said, “Just ignore her.” Sadly, the cry was too prolonged and anguished for me to do that. It took a couple more tries. But then we read four “Little Bear” stories, after which I carried her into the kids’ bedroom and put her in her bed.
So in this instance, persistence is not evidence of insanity, but the result of necessity and mother-love, not a bad combination.
I managed to practice this afternoon for a while after I helped Hazel do her piano practice. I have the morning off tomorrow, so I will fill it with more practice: not exactly restful, but the result of necessity and musician-love, an equally fine combination.