AUTHOR: Marty, a.k.a. canape
TITLE: Whatever it takes
DATE: 8/06/2008 11:55:00 AM
There are things I didn't understand until I became a mother.
How I could function on so little sleep.
How going shopping would turn into passing by the women's section to check out the sales on baby clothes first.
How being done with work and home at night to bathe and put my baby to bed would be the highest priority of my schedule. Every single night.
That regardless of how career minded I might have been in the past, the fact that so many of my students have graduated or quit this year? Just means that I have more time with Bird now. And I'm happy about it.
I didn't understand that my life would change to accommodate his. I honestly thought that I would fit the baby into my life as it already existed.
You can stop laughing now.
My friend T has been my only friend with children. I have watched her children grow and listened intently to the things she has said about parenthood. Most of the time, I would nod and agree, but often, I wouldn't really understand.
For instance, there is a fear of choking. She watches her little ones eat carefully, making sure that the bites are the right size. Making sure that they chew and swallow. Making sure that they aren't left with something in their mouth that might choke them.
I didn't understand why, even if I did believe her and feel that she was justified in her motherly worry.
Then, a few nights ago, I gave my little Bird a Cheerio.
He put it in his mouth, squinched up his nose, and was quiet. He didn't make chewing motions or swallowing motions. He didn't make any sound either.
My heart leaped into my throat as I reached to pick him up and save him from choking.
My heart was faster than my legs, and by the time I had stood, he was gurgling and cooing at the Cheerio he had spit back out of his mouth.
It was a split second, but that was all it took for me to connect with that fear and understand all of the things that T worries about with her kids. They turned from things I knew to things I understood.
What I don't understand yet is how I can lose my patience with Bird when he is just a baby. I don't get why it upsets me so when I try to put him down after having rocked him to sleep and as soon as I let go of his sleeping body, his eyes pop open, he flails over onto his back, and begins to wail.
I don't mean a little wah-wahing. I don't mean some "I don't want to sleep here, please pick me up" tears. I mean full out, panic mode, red in the face, gasping for breath, unable to focus wailing.
He can't seem to stop. Leaving him there for five minutes? Only heightens it and makes it worse. Simply letting him lay in his crib and stand there with him? Only heightens it and makes him mad on top of it all.
So we do this. Rocking to sleep and then into the crib. Over and over again. My shoulders and back ache from the holding and the rocking. My one good nipple is sore from the hours he has been latched on in the past day and night and day. My patience is gone.
I lose my temper. I tell him "no," as if he is doing it to be a naughty baby. I leave him to go try and calm down, closing the door behind me not gently at all and going into another room to let out my own wailing.
Reason pounds through my head in bullet points.
No. There is nothing more important on my list.
- He is just a baby.
- This isn't manipulative.
- There is something behind his clinging.
- Maybe he has gas from the cheese I ate.
- Maybe he is teething.
- Maybe the painter man who he whimpered at earlier scared him and he doesn't want to be alone.
- I will figure out why later and hate myself for losing patience.
- There is always a why and no such thing as a bad baby.
- I am an adult and should act like one.
- I wanted this more than anything.
- Is it so wrong that he just needs me to hold him right now regardless of the million mile list of things I have to get done?
I walk back into the room and pick up my child. I'm still shaking from how much the wailing has worked me into a frenzy. I look at him sternly and call his name. He looks at me and fat, wet tears roll down his face. Pushing past my frustration, I kiss him, hold him, rub his head, nurse him, sing to him.
I sit long past the time he passes out in my arms, snoring softly. And I wonder about myself. I wonder why I have to go around that horrific circle of impatience, anger, frustration, and selfishness just to get back to where I started? Back to understanding that he needs me and loves me just as I need and love him?
Rocking him. Holding him. Nursing him. Is it really such a bad way to spend an afternoon? Or from 4:00-6:00am if that be the case?
I don't travel around the circle often. Honestly, I think it is hormonal. It hasn't happened in a few months - ever since I felt like the postpartum hormones were leveling off. Then yesterday I welcomed my period back into my life. Joy. And today? I'm feeling edgy. Frantic. Impatient.
Instead of a Midol, I'm having a beer.
Maybe I'm a terrible mother after all, but Bird is now sleeping peacefully, and I'm feeling up to attacking that list now.
Whatever it takes, some days. Whatever it takes.
Labels: Bird, On parenthood, Stupid Me, Things I Should Keep to Myself
DATE:Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 2:41:00 PM EDT
So not a terrible mother!
I used to feel that way, too. That frustration at my baby. Sometimes I still do. I think it's normal. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that we have to step back or out for a moment. And sometimes we need to drink a beer or a glass of wine.
You're doing great!
DATE:Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 3:16:00 PM EDT
Hey, pour me a beer too while you're at it and we'll clink our glasses to those moments of mommyhood where we ask ourselves, "What have I gotten myself into?!" And know that we wouldn't change a thing.
And by the way, sounds like little Bird is reaching the age of separation anxiety - He understands that sleep is a separation, that he is a separate person from you. A scary realization for such a little person but once he gets it that you will come back and be there when he wakes up, this phase too will pass. Also note, understanding this, doesn't make it easier or less frustrating when what you really need/want is a moment to yourself and to do other tasks that require two hands.
DATE:Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 9:44:00 PM EDT
Would it help you if I said that I KNOW I had days (and nights) like that, but now that my boys are 17 and 15 (tomorrow!), they're distant memories?
At the end of every day when my kids were little, if they were safe and warm in their beds, and I hadn't killed anyone, it was a successful day.
I'd also add up the total amount of time I was a screaming maniac, and decide that three minutes out of a 24 hour day was not bad.
You're doing a great job.
AUTHOR: becky @ misspriss
DATE:Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 12:14:00 AM EDT
We all get frustrated. Most of the time my little guy cries himself to sleep. Sounds like your little one is the opposite - crying winds them up instead of winding down.
As long as you recognize that you're getting impatient, and consciously work to stop it, I think you'll be fine.
I have to remind myself, too, that I wanted this so badly even though I knew it would change everything about my life. And I'm happy I did, but it doesn't always smooth out the rough spots.
DATE:Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 2:04:00 AM EDT
Oh so true...I go through the exact same motions at times. It's so frustrating!!
But take heart in knowing that you're not alone. I'm glad you shared this -- I had a "bad mommy" day yesterday, and when I read this today I thought, "Oh phew! I'm not the only one."
Bobbie...you make some great points as well! :)
AUTHOR: Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children
DATE:Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 8:10:00 AM EDT
I was able to access your site today!!!!
Anyway, I so vividly remember going over in my head the multitude of reasons to explain my wee babies' crying.
I still question things.
The impatience! Oh yes. I felt so cruel feeling anger and annoyance towards A BABY.
And BOO on the periods return. BOO.
Ps. I drank beer when I breastfed.
AUTHOR: mamma knows
DATE:Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 4:49:00 PM EDT
Hardest job on earth, hands down. Your doing great, and we all feel like that at some point. I was just getting some of my freedom back and whooops I had another, they are 18, 15, and 3. My full time job is them...I love it, but it is hard!
DATE:Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 5:03:00 PM EDT
I could have written that post myself, though not quite so eloquently. But, there are many a days where I feel the exact same way and react in a very similiar fashion. You're a wonderful mama and we all have our limits. We can only do the best we can.
DATE:Thursday, August 7, 2008 at 10:56:00 PM EDT
I've so been there (am there?) but I'm sorry it's a rough stretch right now. It will pass, things will be better. In the meantime, enjoy that beer.
PS- I always chalk the crying refusal to go to bed up as teething b/c you never can tell when that's happening. I know I've done it a million times and Linus only has 7 teeth. :)
DATE:Friday, August 8, 2008 at 2:37:00 PM EDT
Wow. You brought me to tears. What an amazingly brutally honest heartwarming post. All at once, yes.
Nice to hear you got a beer at the end though. I think you needed it.
Missed you while on bday break. Nice to be back. :)
AUTHOR: Rosie : )
DATE:Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 8:20:00 AM EDT
Wonderful post. Thank you for being yourself, honest and unforgiving with your opinions.
You are a good mother, because you care, You'd be an awful mother if you didn't care...
DATE:Monday, August 11, 2008 at 1:21:00 AM EDT
Hang in there - you are doing fine. There is nothing that can describe these things we feel and go through with our babes. You are a musician - stands to reason your offspring are going to be sensitive too. I had exactly the same thing with my eldest son- the breastfeeding to sleep, the frustration when he would wake and scream when trying to put him down. I ended up just sleeping him with me, but even that had its frustrations.And the figuring out how to play guitar with him in the sling for the school concert so he slept instead of screaming. That beautiful son of mine turns 18 this month and still doesn't sleep but is still my gorgeous boy and intelligent and YES independent. One day you will sleep again - keep doing what you are doing - its all good
AUTHOR: THE GRAMMARPHILE
DATE:Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 12:43:00 AM EDT
You seem like a wonderful, caring mother--the kind of mother I would want to be were I a mother myself. Don't get down on yourself for feeling frustrated. You can think whatever you want, no matter how much you don't like the thoughts you think--and you don't deserve to feel guilty for such thoughts. I've found it's best to judge people on how they act, not how they feel--and your actiosn show that you're a fantastic mom. Hang in there! :)