Tuesday, September 01, 2009

keep it together

Before you have kids, you have all these expectations and ideals of what kind of parent you'll be-- how you'll interact with your kids, what kinds of stuff you'll do/allow or refuse to, etc. Then you become a parent. Some of those things you stick to. Others you don't, either because they took too much time/energy/motivation or because they just didn't work. And there are moments when you do feel exactly how you thought you would, totally in love with your child and having the time of your life, laughing and learning with them. But there certainly is a lot of stuff I didn't expect, and a lot of things that have surprised me and even disappointed me about myself. I thought motherhood would come so naturally and easily. Instead, I've found I am just human with needs that still exist even if they're nearly impossible to meet when taking care of someone else. I have been humbled like never before, having so many of my most basic beliefs questioned and brought to light, realizing I have no answers. I am very little like the mother I envisioned myself to be, and I'm mostly ok with that-- I readily embrace the idea of the "good enough mother" and one of the few things I feel confident in is that I will do reasonably right by my kids, that in the end it'll be fine and they'll love me and like me as their mother. But holy shit, this is hard.

I've been having a tough time with Donovan lately. Part of it is that he just seems out of sorts to me. With the bed change, and him dropping his morning nap (and often now also waking up a bit earlier than normal in the morning), he's gone from sleeping 13-14hrs over 24hrs, to maybe now getting 12hrs of total sleep. He seems and looks tired, but I don't know how to help him get more sleep. Sunday night he even woke up 3 times overnight (9pm, 11pm, 3am) crying, I don't know why. Either because of this (being tired), or something else that may also be bugging him (which may be causing the sleep disturbances), he's been really irritable lately, getting easily frustrated and crumpling down in tears for little to no reason. Then he'll randomly perk up, almost as if the earlier scene was faked. The most infuriating thing is when he does something that annoys me (like kicking his legs all around during a diaper change, hitting me repeatedly with his feet) and I grab his legs and firmly tell him to stop and he smiles or even laughs back at me. He's so much fun when he's happy, when he's learning and exploring and playing. But when he's like this, it drives me mad.

I also feel like there's something going on with me that I'm less able to handle it all than usual. Maybe I'm battling a bug (have had a sore throat off and on) and that contributes to feeling tired and worn out, and depleting my patience reserves. And so after enduring the tantrums and screaming, I find myself on the verge of tears and feeling defeated, scaring myself with the anger and resentment I could feel towards my own child. The worst is when this happens on a day like yesterday-- a day when I should have felt refreshed, rested, energized. I'd just had a fun weekend, where Zach let me sleep in both days, where I got to go to a friend's wedding and practice my hobby of photography. Where I spent much of Sunday afternoon working on the photos, feeling happy and proud of what I'd produced at the end. Why then, after all these things that should have replenished me, did I still feel so drained on Monday morning? It was almost like a slap in the face, this realization that you may get these little breaks here and there but in the end this is life, this is where you always come back to, and there is no break because this is just the way it is.

The good thing to know, to try to remind myself of, is that these moments are always temporary. Even yesterday we had a pretty good middle of the day, even if the morning and later afternoon felt awful. I know that I need to learn how to handle those moments better and not get so frustrated. I don't like getting so angry in front of Donovan. I would never, ever hurt him, but even still I don't want him to see me like that-- if I can't hold myself together in times of stress, how can I possibly expect him to do so? I know I need to make sure I get as much sleep as I can so I have the best chance of feeling somewhat rested. I'm also making it a goal to fit in exercise a few times a week, for my health and hopefully to help my sanity, too.

And so I continue along this road as a parent, learning as much about myself as I am about the little person my son is becoming.


  1. *hugs*

    I'll talk to the boy, tell him to behave.

    (Although you spent time doing something you enjoy, taking photos, you were stressed about it, and put pressure on yourself to "not mess up." This probably drained you a lot, even if you got to sleep in and had time away from D.)

  2. I agree, you were probably drained from doing so much of "your" free time that you didn't realize everything you accomplished.

    Possibly it's a testing phase he is going through and seeing what he can and cannot get away with..

    Hope the phase ends soon for ya!

  3. This too shall pass.

    Although I use your blog to see what lies ahead. And I am getting very nervous!

  4. I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough time at the moment. FWIW - it's pretty normal. Kids go through mood swings like us adults ;-). I've gone through phases where I'm convinced I just suck as a parent because Angelina is going through a rough patch. Then somehow, we figure it out.

    For us, what's helped a lot was reading "The Spirited Child." I'm not sure how you've described D if he fits that. It describes Angelina perfectly...but more than anything it taught us more about ourselves as individuals and as parents.

    I suspect he's just at an age where he's discovering more of the world and of himself and learning a new role in how he interacts with you. You'll both get past it. In the meantime, do take time for yourself as much as possible. Everyone needs a break from their "job" no matter how much they love it.

  5. I appreciate your honesty and can relate to oh, so much! You are not alone!

  6. Kathy Besser11:16 AM

    Marcy, I remember days like that, so please know that you are not alone! When you need a pick-me-up from a friend, please don't hesitate to call me. Did I ever tell you about my 'tell three' rule? Whenever I have a rough day, I find three close friends to tell what happened and somehow, the burden of carrying that weight (anger, guilt, whatever) is lifted. I think the unconditional support you get from other parents is priceless and I hope you know you can always call us!

  7. jessicaishotinaustin7:40 PM

    i love that Rule of Threes. what a great idea. i think that this sounds so much like how i feel and liam is only seven weeks. there are days when the good progress disentigrates, like yesterday, and then there are amazing days that rejuvinate me and make me feel it's going to get better after all. So i would give you the same advice you give me, that you are stronger than you know, and that this IS temporary. you don't have to enjoy it all the time. someone recently told me "being a good parent is being there even though you don't want to be." and i know you do that. you are an inspirational mother, so hang in there.

  8. You can't enjoy every single moment. You can't keep your cool every single day. Then you wouldn't be human, you'd be a Stepford Wife. And you know those were robots. Not really good for mothering.

    The lows give you the experience to truly appreciate and enjoy the highs. What would the highs be if they didn't have the lows alongside them? And the fact that you feel this frustration and worry and stress just proves all the more how great of a mother you are. If you didn't worry about doing a good job, then that would truly be worrisome...



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