Friday, August 29, 2014

A Sad, Conflicted Mama

It's nearly 2am and I just got up off my toddler's floor with hot tears running down my face. She's fine, there is nothing wrong with her. Schultz the dog is also fine, too... he had both eyes removed and is recovering beautifully and seems much happier.

Me on the other hand...

I have never in my life felt so conflicted. I love Baby D with every ounce I've got, and then some (though the Hubs would inform me that is not actually possible, much like giving 110%). The days with an extremely active toddler are funny, exhausting, amazing at times, lonely, and also exhausting. Did I mention exhausting? Oh, and sometimes I am also tired. Enough to fall asleep on the toilet once she's gone to bed.

I love her. She comes first. I have pretty severe anxiety, and I can't tolerate her crying. And I KNOW her cries. I KNOW my baby, and I know when she needs me or if things aren't right. I know my family thinks I overreact to this, or go to an extreme, but they don't live in my mind, they can't feel what is in my heart, or the terrible sirens that go off in my head when she is upset.

I need to tend to her when she is sad, because until she has language, that is the ONLY real way for her to clearly and effectively communicate that something is wrong. She is not a little whiny bitch. She hasn't run into a flooring surface that she hasn't enjoyed face-planting into during her regular sprints through the world. She has bonked her head, face, legs, hands on any and all hard surfaces, but she will only cry if it really, really smarts. Or if she is quite tired.

And you know what? If she is that tired, I should have already been on it. I know her schedule, and her general sleep needs. I see the signs when she needs rest. Sometimes my family will suggest that her staying awake is good for her. It isn't. She's a babe, I know how she rolls, I know her. She needs her sleep.

I know people make suggestions with good intent, but when I know how she operates, how she ticks, and what will ultimately make her a sad or angry baby, I'm obviously going to do what I know is best for her. Situations do come up. I know routine can't always be in place. Yes, some flexibility is a good thing... but she is only a toddler. She can't say "Hey, Mom, what the f_ck, I am sooo tired, why aren't you letting me sleep?".  It's only when it becomes "Whhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" that the message is delivered loud and clear if I haven't given her what she needs. I mean, she has no control over that stuff.

Pigtails = Instant Heart Meltification

I feel like my job as a good, conscientious parent is to know her, anticipate her needs, provide her with what she needs BEFORE she gets upset, and put her needs above all else. And I'm okay with that. I don't think a lot of other people are. But they aren't me, they aren't living my life, they don't feel the heart-wrenching anxiety that I do. And so they judge. And it hurts.

I am Mama Bear. Hear me roar. Or growl. (I don't know, what sound does a bear make?) Grunt?

Then, when babe is asleep, and the world is quiet, and I am shocked that we got through the day... when I am sitting on the couch, or trying to just stay awake long enough to get to my own reasonable bed time... I wonder just HOW.THE.F_CK I am going to do it all again tomorrow.

How can I keep her happy? How can I allow her to thrive and grow and learn? How can I foster her amazeball sense of curiosity with gentle parenting and encouragement and try not to flip my fucking lid when she dumps the dog water dish out for the third time that morning? How do I keep my patience and appreciate that she is navigating the world when all the drawer contents in the kitchen are mischievously placed around the main floor, with a reasonable smattering of hidden objects tossed down the stairs or hidden in toy bins? How do I maintain my enthusiasm for that stupid puppy book with the terrible rhyming that she refuses to allow me to actually read completely? Or start reading one of the Winnie the Pooh books with happiness when I know she will walk away after page 2, and try to harvest more items in the pantry to place about the house?

I long for being able to go to stores. And, you know, shop. Not race with a squawk box in the cart until it becomes a game of baby-in-carrier-twisting-interpretive-dance (spoiler alert - the dance can be interpreted as "let me the f_ck out of here, I want to get down, run around, and bash those bottles of olive oil while you chase after me!")

And then, the Hubs comes home. And maybe I sneak away to the store. And I shit you not, I am already missing her before I've travelled three roads from home. Her empty carseat makes my heart hurt. (Yes, I realize she is alive and well at home, but that is how it really is). Any mom I see in the store I feel kindred to (though more than a few have looked at me like I am a lunatic as I smile creepily at them).

I am lost without her. Though I'm sure it is entirely unhealthy, I have no other identity besides BABY D's MAMA. And I am okay with that, but when Baby D isn't there, it leaves a gaping, lonely hole. And it makes me feel even more determined to care for her and fiercely protect her best interests.

So I have some down time on the couch, or I head to the store, and all I want to do is be close to her (spoiler alert: I see enmeshment counselling in her future). I will look up pictures of her on my computer just to see her gorgeous eyes, sweet smile and perky wee pigtails. I want to go into her room, but I don't want to wake her or upset her if I'm just standing there.

My sweet little monkey

Tonight I laid on the floor and looked up at her sweet little feet sticking through the crib rails. And I cried. I feel like I simultaneously love her more than anyone has loved anything in this world, yet I consistently fail her with my fatigue and anxiety, fail in meeting her needs on time, feel like I'm not allowing her to thrive to her fullest potential, and feel like I take her for granted in the day. And others get frustrated with me for trying even harder the next day.

I long to accomplish things, but I truly don't want to be away from her.
Love. Sadness. Ferocity. Amazement. Laughter.
Pride. Joy.

Clearly I need to change my meds.


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  1. No. This is normal. For me anyway. My kid turned 5 last Saturday and seems to be thriving so I must be doing something right. You got this mama. Shit is all exhausting and confusing and it REALLY FUCKING SUCKS you have to defend your parental decisions, but she's your kid and you know what the fuck is up.

    You're doing fabulous, and it only gets awesomer.

  2. I just flew across the pond, and three rows in front of me was a momma with a teeny-tiny baby, probably younger than six months. And she held him for the whole, entire, complete nine hours and eight minutes of the flight, kissing, burping, cooing. The dad did step in while she went to the bathroom, and looked like he would have done fine if she had let him take over for longer than that. But my impression was that, like you, the momma was just happy to be the mommy.

    I don't have kids, nor do I know you in real life. But I've read your blog enough to have a sense of your personal ethos, your responsibility and how sensitive you are. Everything you write about I have heard from my other mommy-friends. And you probably know that very well. Most friends describe it as "it's like they never truly cut the cord." As a mere bystander, when I see 50 personal, friendly, well-meant different pieces of advice in someone's FB feed for how to get your baby to adjust to daylight savings (seriously? it's a freaking hour!), all I think is: every parent knows their baby best. It's about letting her flourish, and about you flourishing with her. In your own, unique, marvellous way(s).

    Just one thing, and chuck it out the window if you think it's irrelevant. I am also someone who is very verbal, but can choke pretty badly when I have to articulate a primal need, or a deep emotion. I envy children who can just point and scream at the toy they want, because I was never able to do that as a child, and am still not able to do it in many ways now. I know it's personal, but perhaps you should allow her the time and space to articulate her needs instead of anticipating them before they happen. It will allow her to grow into a confident individual who is able to say what she wants (or doesn't want), and also teach her that it's normal to wait a little while for your needs to be fulfilled sometimes, because life is like that. Communication is like that. Love is like that.

    It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job, and you shouldn't beat yourself up over the little things. And you should allow yourself to feel, find, have, and flourish - you, as well. Methinks that comes as they get a little older.

    All best,

  3. <3 <3 <3


    <3 <3 <3

    obviously i have nothing extremely pithy or helpful, except that love & hugs are always helpful. : )

    also, pigtails - adorbs!

  4. I read something once that all parents think THEIR child is the smartest, cutest, most wonderful baby since the human race started this baby-making thing. If they didn't think that, they would probably strangle the little buggers about 1 week after birth, and then where would we all be? So it sounds like you're on track. Plus the sleep deprivation. Did you know that if enemy troops do that to you, it's considered actual torture, right up there with water boarding?


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