My kids are cute (I’m talking legitimate Gerber-baby level cuteness). They are smart and curious and they crack me up. But they are the *actual worst* at sleeping. My 3 year-old didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he was 1 ½ years old. For months, the only way to get him to nap was by taking him for walks – I can’t even tell you how many miles were clocked on his stroller in attempts to get this child to sleep. My 7-month-old is the queen of the 20-minute nap. That in itself is an improvement; for months she would only nap on my body. Working from home meant standing with my laptop on the kitchen counter while my daughter slept in the baby carrier on my chest. Allegedly, after 6 months there is no nutritional need for babies to eat during the night, but my little one definitely did not get that memo. It’s basically an all-night buffet around here.
Getting my sleep in 1-3 hour increments for months now has completely melted my brain. I was trying to pay for my haircut last weekend, and I seriously just stared blankly at the cash in my hand for an uncomfortable length of time, not processing whether it was the correct amount. I put my daughter’s shirt on backwards and didn’t realize it until halfway through the day (geez, what’s wrong with these snaps?!) I asked if my dad could come help with the kids and then completely forgot he was coming until I heard the doorbell ring.
Having to care for 2 tiny humans when you yourself are a barely-functioning human can leave you pretty emotionally fragile. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest thing and I either lose my temper or burst into tears.
In the midst of all this, I catch myself wanting to fast-forward – to the part where my daughter gets this sleep thing figured out… to the time when my day isn’t a series of epic battles every time I ask my son to complete some arduous task, like brushing his teeth or going to the bathroom (“I don’t haaaaave to peeeeeee”) … to some distant day when I can get myself and/or my daughter dressed without being covered in spit-up seconds later.
I feel guilty when I catch myself thinking this way. I know what a blessing my kids are, and all the people out there struggling with infertility who would like nothing more than a baby to spit up all over them. I also have the words ringing in my ears of so many veteran parents who are perpetually reminding us young moms to treasure every moment. I see it again and again on Facebook – if a friend with a baby posts anything *remotely* negative, even just an innocuous comment about how exhausted they are, at least one person chimes in to tell them to enjoy every second with their baby.
I know in the rational part of my brain that I need to hold onto every second when my kids are this little. I know how fast it will all fly by. I know I will blink, and all of a sudden it will be my daughter’s first birthday, that she’ll be a walking, talking toddler and not my snuggly baby anymore… that my son will be climbing on the school bus, on his way to kindergarten (hopefully by then not throwing a tantrum every time he has to pee). I wrote a whole blog post already about how important it is to appreciate everything you can about the moment you’re in, instead of spending your life wishing for some distant greener grass. But despite all this awareness and my overwhelming love for my children, in the hardest moments when I feel exhausted and depleted, I just can’t cherish every moment.
When teeth start coming in and your baby’s in constant misery that all the hippie natural gum soother in the world does not seem to ease, that’s a hard moment to treasure. I can’t say I’m enjoying the moment while I’m trying to change my wriggling baby’s mega-poopy diaper on the front seat of the car for the third time in one week (HOW does she always manage to time her poops for when we’re nowhere near a changing table??) When all I want is a *little* bit of me time at the end of the day, and an hour past bedtime I still haven’t managed to get both kids to sleep, and there’s a sink full of dirty dishes with my name on them… nope, not really easy to cherish.
I realize this is all sounding super negative. The overwhelming majority of the time with my kids is genuinely joyful and awesome. But on the tough days, what I really need is validation. Solidarity. For other people to acknowledge that yes, it can be really hard, and it’s okay not to be elated every second about the joys of motherhood.
Last night I got a text from a friend just checking in with me and some of our other mama friends (she must have sensed somehow that I was having one of those days). I texted back an approximately 27-part response venting all of my frustrations. She and my other amazing friends responded with nothing but love and support. They didn’t tell me to enjoy every minute. They told me they understood how hard it can be as a mom, that we’ve all had times like that, but I’m doing a great job. And that was exactly what I needed to hear.