Okay, friends. It’s real-talk time.
We are in the trenches with this baby. She still won’t sleep through the night. Which I could probably handle if that was the only thing, because she typically gets up only once. However, her new thing is to get up at 4 a.m. ish. And then after I feed her and get her laid back down, I lay back down and toss and turn, and about the time I start to fall back asleep shortly after 5 a.m., she wakes up AGAIN. And this time she stays up. Sometimes for several hours. Which means I basically start my day at 4 a.m.
Let’s just say, I have discovered there is a certain amount of sleep I need to be a decent parent (notice I said “decent”. I’m not even setting the bar that high here, people.) And getting up at 4 a.m. doesn’t give me that amount of sleep. On these days, survival depends on the husband letting me sneak a little morning nap before he goes to work.
Survival. That’s where we are at. Still. After nearly seven months, we are still in survival mode more day than I can count. I thought it was supposed to be easier by now. Or at least, I thought we would have short periods of relief here and there. But it seems like we jump back and forth between hard and harder.
After nearing two months of trying to feed her solids and her flat out refusing (clamping her mouth down, dodging away from the spoon), we are now seeing a therapist in hopes that will help. After going through a brief period of h-e double hockey sticks trying to get her to self-sooth so she could fall asleep on her own we are back to rocking her to sleep. She still doesn’t do that great in the carseat or at keeping a binkie in her mouth. It just feels like everything is hard with this child. Harder than it should be.
This morning was no different. The day started at 4 a.m. with a feeding, and after a failed attempt to fall back asleep I was up for the day at 5:30. After another feeding and then getting milk barfed all over me, I was in tears. Why is this so hard? It breaks my heart that I’m frustrated with my own baby. It breaks my heart that I’m not strong enough to handle this gracefully.
Luckily, the husband came to the rescue and I went back to bed for long enough that the desperate thoughts retreated back to their dark corners for the time being. Feeling slightly more ready to handle the day, the husband headed off to work.
Then the baby pooped and the toddler pooped and the toddler needed a snack and the baby started whining and I realized I hadn’t eaten breakfast. So I changed diapers and gave snacks and rocked the baby to sleep. I went to lay her down in her room so that I could finally get something to eat, and she woke up on the way there.
So I tried laying her down awake, hoping that she was tired enough to fall back asleep.
She laid there for just long enough to get my hopes up and then started fussing. But we were already committed now and I wanted to follow through until she was asleep. So I went back, cuddled her until she was almost asleep again, and laid her back down.
Same thing. Back and forth between the baby upstairs and the toddler downstairs.
After several trips, I stood in the living room next to the monitor and the fussing started up again and I felt myself beginning to crumble. I pressed my hands to my eyes and I begged, “God, please. Please give me strength. Please help me be a better mom than this.”
And then I looked down at the monitor and she stopped crying, stroked her blankie and fell asleep. And in the relief of the silence, I thought, “This is harder for her than it is for me.”
Sometimes all I need is a change in perspective and everything feels different. This was one of those moments.
This is hard for me, but it is harder for her. Everything is new and she is figuring out how her body works and she doesn’t understand the waves of feelings that she can’t control. She doesn’t know what’s going on or what the point of the mushy baby food is or that car seat rides won’t last forever. She doesn’t understand why mom is so frustrated.
This is hard for her. And I’m the one who can help make it easier. But I’ve been too caught up in my own feelings to think about hers.
Sigh. Not my finest mama moment.
Luckily, it’s not even 10 a.m. I still have time to do better today.
I have time to be more patient at meal time when she refuses the spoon yet again.
I have time to be more patient when naps don’t go the way I wish they would.
I have time to be loving when the toddler throws a fit, because being a toddler is hard too.
I have time to be compassionate with the 1st grader when she tells me about her day, because being a 1st grader is hard.
I have time to do better.
These parenting face-palm moments, the ones where I am embarrassed to have needed to be reminded of something I already knew, the ones where I wish I had done better… these moments are not fun.
But I’m grateful for the reminder.
Because today I will do better.