Sometimes you are the reason your child is crying herself to sleep with loud and desperate sobbing. Sometimes instead of being the one to comfort and sooth her you give her 5 minutes to wail before ordering her to be quiet now so her siblings can fall asleep. Then you hear the quieter muffled sounds of the sister sharing her bed crying too.
You sit in the other room, listening to every sound of grief, and woe, and you do not take it lightly, but you won't go in again. Instead you find a tangled string from a kite lying about and you start in the middle, trying to work your way out, to make sense of the knots and put it right again.
So tired of coming into sing at bedtime, only to find the room torn apart and clothes still on the floor you told them, tonight after dinner, "If I come in to sing and your room isn't ready for sleeping, with everything put away and the floor picked up, we'll spend the singing time cleaning up instead and then you will go to bed without songs."
Surely they will clean up quickly now. Surely they will choose to pick up.
But when you go into their room, after wiping the baby clean and getting him out of his high chair, she is looking at a book, and she is setting up a diorama and they are both standing on the clothes you told them to pick up.
There will be no songs.
For perhaps the 5th time in her entire life there will be no bedtime songs. And you can't take it back now. Or rather, you won't, because you are convinced that it's better for her to learn that her choices have difficult consequences from you, at bedtime, rather than the hard way with things, and people, and results so much more permanent than bedtime songs.
But, as convinced as you are that there is long term good to denying her what she wants now, when her choices said otherwise, it doesn't stop you from sitting where you can hear every cry and working away at a difficult tangle.
Because that's what mama's do.