It’s nearly midnight. I’m in bed, Leverage playing on the TV, Embry lying next to me where Chris should be. She’s on her back (rare for her these days), arms up above her head like she used to sleep when she was just a wee babe.
Nights have been hard the past couple of weeks. She’s waking more often through the night, especially between 12/1 AM and 4/6 AM. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve raised my voice. Really. At a 10 month old. Tonight she didn’t even make it until midnight before waking up. It started with just a light fuss, I was hoping she would self-soothe and go back to sleep. Tonight just wasn’t our night. The fussing stayed somewhat quiet, but became erratic, almost as if she were in a panic. I went to her crib and patted her back, rubbed light circles, talked to her. All the things she likes and needs to settle back into sleep. Nothing worked. Her eyes remained closed, the sense of urgency in her tone increased, tears fell. Finally I picked her up and she continued. My arms, my chest, the closeness of my breath… none of it comforted her. None of it eased her panic. Was she dreaming? Was she in pain? Was she having a night terror? Was she going to hyperventilate? Stop breathing? Wake up? Get back to sleep? All these thoughts within seconds that seemed like an eternity. Finally, she settled. Calm regular breathing. Still and relaxed eyelids. Her body heavy with sleep in my arms. I set her gently into her crib and almost immediately she started to fuss again, Eyes open this time, sitting up, crying in a mild panic. I lifted her out of the crib again, we went out to the fridge to get her bottle. Back into the room, lights out, lying in bed. I barely had time to move the bottle from the shelf to her lips before she had settled near sleep. She didn’t need her bottle. I thought to her out loud, “you just need mama? That’s okay, sweetheart, that’ll always be okay.”
And then, out of nowhere, I began to cry. The weeks of stress, sleep deprivation, frustration, anger, overwhelming sense of failure all came crashing down. Maybe it’s just because I’m feeling lonely with Chris living and working out of town. Maybe it’s hormones because I’m “scheduled” to start my period soon. Maybe it’s my exhausted body simply giving in. But I laid there, cradling Embry in my arms, holding her close and listening to her breathing and I cried. I thought to myself all those things you think when you can’t stop yourself from overthinking. They wouldn’t stop racing through my mind, each one passing so fast, I wasn’t really even sure I was thinking them right now.
I’m failing her.
I can’t believe I yelled at her.
How could I get so frustrated, she doesn’t know any better.
Why is sleep so hard for her, what is she dreaming about.
Am I being the best mom I can be.
I’m not worthy of being her mother.
And then, then those thoughts turned into sadness.
I wish my dad were here.
I hope I’m as good at being her mom as he knew I could be.
I wish he had lived to see her.
I wish I could talk to him again.
And then. Just then, I gathered myself. I gazed down at my sleeping babe, unaware of the turmoil going on in her mom’s overactive mind. Right then she nestled her little head further into the crook of my arm and she smiled. I tell you, in that moment, in her contented smile, I melted. All those worries, all those self-criticisms, the doubt, the anger, frustration – everything, melted away. And in that moment returned my resolve.
We have to believe. Believe that we are here for a reason. We are doing our best given our abilities. That everything we face in life, every day, every moment, is a moment to be our best self. We all have weakness, we all have times of need, there is no perfect person, family, scenario. All we can do is center, refocus, and to the best we can. I gave in to moments. A moment when I rose my voice in frustration. A moment where I walked away from my fussy baby because I needed 5 seconds. A moment when I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I cried in my dark and empty room. Each of those moments, mere seconds. There are so many more in each day that a better choice was made. That a positive energy was put into her life.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I simply wanted all of this, all of the thoughts and ideas and feelings going on in my mind right now to be recorded somewhere. Typing is faster than writing, easier to at least try to keep up with what’s going on in there.
I want to be better. I don’t have any sort of real definition of what that means. I don’t have a plan or an idea or goal. Just better. Better tomorrow than I was today. I want to be the best mother she could ever ask for, because that is what SHE deserves. It doesn’t have anything to do with me, really. Not anymore. This is all her now. My life, although still mine, still important, is devoted to her well being. In order to fully support her well being, though, I have to also prioritize my own.
“In the end, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life.” – Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard