This week I did the ugly cry. The one I haven't seen since the newborn days. The "I'm such a bad mama, why isn't this working, I don't know what to do..." cry. I hate feeling this way. Hitting the bottom of the barrel.
We've been going through a rough patch here at Casa Bohemian Season. I'm not sure if it was the cold or possible teething or the "four month sleep regression" or learning to roll over or just some factor that will never be identified, but Will baby has been unpredictable, fussy and needy. He seems to need so much - and I seem to be the only person who can give it to him. (Attachment parenting? It's working. The attachment part at least.) And I wonder if I'll ever, ever, get a haircut or massage again, or go on a date night or a vacation, or try on clothes or read a whole book or sleep late.
Will had been asleep for the night by 7, leaving me with enough alone time to gather myself before the nightly round of feedings began. But the last few weeks that's been a thing of the past. His naps are unpredictable and he's been going to sleep for the night more like 10 or 11 (after hours of wrangling), leaving me a basket case.
Sleep training. I thought it would be a few rough days. Not weeks. Or months. Ha! How naive I am. Well it's been a rough month.
I've felt the same way I felt in the newborn days - overwhelmed, exhausted, tapped out, afraid - afraid it will never get better, that I'll never get relief. Okay, that sounds melodramatic, but hey, I'll just be real on how I've been feeling for those other mamas who might be going through the same.
Family and friends have reassured me of the usual things - that what I'm going through is normal, that I'm doing a good job, that this is just a phase that will pass, and that the years ahead will be full of many such phases - that just when I start to get things down pat they will change again.
I expected as much, and yet, and yet... it is harder than I expected. It's knocking me to ground.
I felt such panic in the newborn days. It was... tough. A week after Will was born I was dialing 911 - calling the postpartum doulas in desperation. And things got better. Not perfect. But better. Better enough.
But when I get a taste of that again, I feel that same panic.
There are lessons I'm having to learn. And lest you think I sound smug, well, I ain't honey. I haven't learned them yet. I'm right in the middle of them.
- When to hold 'em and when to fold 'em - when to hold my ground and when to surrender.
- Keep the long view - not today, or next week, or even next month, but seeing through to the years, that I will get through this, that even if things don't go perfectly, they'll probably be just fine.
- Forge my own path, how to find what's right for me - letting go of the notion that there is only one right way, if only I could find it.
- Quit projecting today's problems into the future. A big part of my anxiety isn't about what I'm experiencing right now, but about what I'm afraid may happen.
- Give myself a break - read a book sometimes instead of wash dishes. Just be, instead of do. Stop the productivity mindset. Stop the productivity guilt.
- Ask for help and accept it when it's offered, and not nitpick help when it's given.
- Don't compare myself with others. Yeah, all those others, who have schedules, who are having leisurely dinner and wine and tv-watching with their husbands every night while I'm stressing because Bo's awake - again.
- Let go of the kind of mother I thought I'd be, and just be what I am instead.
- And probably many other things I haven't even realized I need to learn yet!
I don't want to sound whiny, because so many women would like to trade places with me and snuggle my little Bo. I want to sound all shiny and pink and "motherhood is soooo fabu, sweetie pie!". But look, for all it's rewards, it's got some rough patches. And that's just the way it goes.
I'm hoping to crawl out of mine sometime soon and rest up before the next one.