Yesterday I snapped and shouted at Lily. And why? Because she needed her Mama.
It’s been a couple of rough nights for us lately. After weaning just before Christmas, something miraculous happened. Lily started sleeping through the night. We started sleeping through the night. Everyone got some sleep for a change, and I cautiously optimistically thought we had the worst bits over.
Then it started. For every nap, for every bedtime, she needs to be held tightly in our arms. Which is OK. I cherish the closeness, the intimacy. However, about 20-30 minutes after I leave, she wakes up and cries for Mama. She needs to be held again to fall asleep again, she can’t settle herself, not even one fucking time.
So at the moment it feels like there is no reprieve, no respite, no refuge. It’s constant, constant need to cater to her, constantly shooting worried looks at the monitor, praying she’ll sleep for another five minutes so you can get some shit done. It feels like it doesn’t end.
So, yesterday, I snapped. After five-thousand times of “it’s alright, Mama is here”, I snapped. My husband wasn’t home, so there was just conquer, no divide. I had set up for a night in bed with her, but when she’d fallen asleep, I got up to brush my teeth, toilet, drink, and so on. On the toilet – always – I heard her cry and so I ended up in bed, thirsty, full bladder, fully annoyed – I mean I cannot even pee and drink, for fuck’s sake. Then she screamed at me, relentless, angry I wasn’t there, angry I left her.
As I was trying to soothe her, all the bullshit comments you hear from strangers and your own inner voice rose like a screeching crescendo…
You should have sleep-trained her.
It’s your fault if you make her dependent on you.
This shouldn’t happen at this stage anymore.
Maybe if she slept in her own room, she could sleep better.
How on earth will you do it with two children?
She’s just spoilt, she needs to learn she can’t always have her way.
And I broke.
First, I released my anger at my own incapacities on her and shouted at her and put her roughly down into her bed. Then I just broke down and cried like a baby myself. She went calm but then cried “Mama, Mama”, as if in shock what was happening, but the flood gates had opened. I only thought: I. Can’t. Do. This. Anymore.
We fell asleep arm in arm, both crying. Not ideal. And I’ve been feeling terribly guilty ever since.
So why am I telling you this? To gain sympathy? To hear I’m not a bad mother? Or even for masochistic reasons because I want to lure out the beast of social media to rear its ugly head at me, saying: “You’re horrible”, “your child belongs to social services”, “you need to work on your own emotions.” (#gentleparenting #screamingscarsthemforlife #badparenting #yousuck).
It’s neither of those reasons. I am sharing this because, quite simply, it’s true. And the truth is a sighting almost as rare in social media as a unicorn, I feel. There is a flood of well-curated pictures in which we smile, capture a “good moment” (#lovemydaughter #shesthebestintheworld #lovebeingamum #mylifeisawesome)
And while all of these moments are true, too, they are not the whole picture. Sometimes I am tired of being a mum. Sometimes I wish I could watch a Netflix show without anxiously looking at the baby monitor. Sometimes I wish I could read two hours in the afternoon like I used to.
And I know that’s selfish inasmuch that I’ve had plenty of evenings like that (and if you don’t have children, cherish the boredom of a chill-out night on your sofa). I chose this and I must make it work – every day, even on the bad days. And I wish I was the perfect mother who is always calm and an incessant source of benevolence, cocoa and cuddles. I wish I was like Connie’s mum, sometimes.
But I’m not because, I guess, I am…human. After the fifth sleepless night, grinding through fifty tantrums each day where you nodded patiently and kissed their ouchies, it was one too much.
I swear to myself it will never happen again. I know it will. Many times. Hundreds and thousands of times. And I will feel guilty. Every. Single. Time.
But you know the funny thing. While I was lying in bed, heaving from guilt, my insides churning at the thought of having shouted at her, she was peacefully asleep in my arms.
The next morning when I showered her with apologies, she wasn’t interested in them. She was too busy cuddling into the nook of my neck and smiling at me.
She’d forgiven me the moment I put her into my arms. The crack that shook our bond was healed within moments of it happening.
So, the hope I have is that if she can forgive me so easily, maybe I can learn to forgive myself, too.
#18monthsregression #18monthtoddler #parenting #blogger #parentblogger #mumblogger #motherhoodunplugged
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