Thursday, January 3, 2008

Love in the time of naplessness

Oh, my.
It turns out some people are reading this. Oh, my. I am so humbled. Now I feel a little bit like that 11 year old adolescent I was mentioning yesterday, the one who says she looks ugly because she is hoping friend Alpha-12 year old cool girl will give her some kind of backhanded compliment. Uh, thanks guys, for reading my words, whoever you are...
This makes this feel like even more of a confessional than it ever was. For some reason, four people I hadn't ever heard of posting a comment yesterday makes me open to the possibility that perhaps lots of people are lurking around this site wondering about my innermost thoughts...
I think maybe I am a bit hormonal. There seems to be some emotional fluctuation, eh?

So here's what's on my mind today. Again. How can I get frustrated and mad at my beautiful living children? Argh! It makes me want to bang my head against the wall, not out of anger towards them, but at myself. How can I let this happen, I think to myself? Today's example. Aoife, not yet 2, thinks she doesn't need a nap. Unless I sit patiently with her in the rocking chair, nursing her and singing and patting her bottom consistently (who do you think got her into this habit? Hmmm?) she just plays in her bed. Then, at about 4 PM, she can't do anything. She is in a sleep-deprived stupor, clinging to my leg, moaning, and begging to nurse. All she wants to do is curl up in a big chair and nurse. Sounds ideal, right? Kind of, in theory. It is really cozy, actually... except that there is another beautiful little child who wants me to also play with him, and also there's the whole dinner thing which needs to happen by 5:15 which is about when Dad is going to get home. So I get frustrated. Either I get frustrated at the 4:30 point, when I have to start cooking and she is lying on the floor weeping piteously, or I get frustrated at the 1:00 point, where I just really want her to sleep so that we can all enjoy the afternoon.
So today it was 1:00, and Liam was tired and already asleep, and she nurses almost to sleep and then happens to accidentally, with the tiny, extra-sharp pincer grip of freshly cut one-year old fingers, pinch my nipple very hard. Just the very edge of it, as she was of course nursing at the time, but my nipple nonetheless. Tiny, razor sharp nails, digging in with a sudden, white-hot flash of pain. Could this have been where the grumpy mood began? My jump and shout startled her into a second-wind of chatter and conversation, at which point I angrily plonked her into her bed, forcing her into the lying position and fruitlessly tucking a knitted blanket around her squirming body, and told her it was time to nap. I stormed out. I had already nursed her for 20 minutes! Why can't she just go to sleep like a regular 2 year old! Oh Jeez!
Oh, wait.
Oh, oh, wait.
What am I thinking? What am I doing? Why am I angry?
She cried for a while, then talked to herself for a little bit longer than that. I sat downstairs, feeling that emotion of anger, and not really knowing why I was angry.
I was angry because the way I parent and the things that I feel are right and that I do, like nursing and singing and rocking for hours to produce sleep, sometimes produce habits that are so labor-intensive on my part that when I am tired, or down, or just need 10 mintues to myself, I get mad NOT AT the child, but at myself for producing the habit in the first place.
This is where it always comes back to. I can't be mad at a child for not sleeping when I have never taught her how to sleep. I have coddled her right into where she now lies and now I have to coddle her back to sleep yet another time.
So I slink back up the stairs into the dark of her little tent-like room.
Scoop her up out of her bed, smelling as always like strawberry chapstick. This is the smell of my daughter, like soft, warm lips with fresh strawberry chapstick. I don't know the last time I bought strawberry chapstick but I think of it every time I smell her sleepy head.
I nuzzle this silky, sweet-smelling head and nurse her some more, calm this time, rocking and singing, and she relaxes in my arms as I tell her I love her and she falls asleep in 2 minutes and I tuck her gently under the knitted blanket and come down here and write this.
So at least I have figured out who I am mad at.
Sorry, Aoife. I shouldn't have taken it out on you.
Do you know how much I love you?


Hennifer said...

I have SO been there! Still am actually and I think you really hit the nail on the head. I need to remind myself of why I nurse, why I co-sleep, how the outcome is so wonderful (same routine with my now 6 year old). I do admit though that my daughter is less of a sleeper than her brother.

Becky said...

It's tough, but it happens. Alex has a habit of being both a bad sleeper AND a nipple pincher, and sometimes I get inexplicably angry with him. It's not his fault, but it's not mine, either.

We're all only human.