Friday, August 31, 2007

One of those Days

I had a day today that I wish I could just take back. A day where in hindsight I would have changed how I handled things. It was for the most part fine, but by the end of the day, I was maxxed out. This evening and late afternoon, Lucy absolutely HAD to be in my arms - no place else would work. If I put her down even for a moment to do something like use the restroom, she immediately went into a full on meltdown. I mean big tears and all. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in a chair with her head on my shoulder just snuggled up or with her snuggled in my lap with a book. She is rarely fussy and I would venture to say I have never seen her like this. Yes, she is a mama's girl, but this was an all new extreme. She seemed to be extra tired, so I am going to blame it on that. She went to bed a bit early and was instantly asleep. Maybe she just needed more momma time, I don't know. What I do know is that at some point she HAS to be put down for me to do something such as get her food or bottle ready, or again, use the restroom. And by the end of the day, I just wanted to put her down in general.

Don't get me wrong, I love my time with Lucy. A normal day for us is the perfect amount of time of us in full interaction mode, (reading, playing games, or just hanging out with each other with no other distractions) getting out of the house for a while, and me doing little things around the house in the same room that she is playing in - we still are talking and interacting with one another. She is generally really great at self entertainment while I prepare her meals or do a little cleaning. I would say at least 95% of our days together are easy and fun for both of us. We both laugh a whole lot and spend a lot of time close to one another. This day was different. As I said, she simply could not be anywhere but in my lap or in my arms. I ate my dinner tonight with her in my arms!

Days like this are exhausting for me, but even worse, they are the days that I get upset with myself and how I handle the situation. Obviously, I obliged her and held her ALL afternoon and evening. Who wants a screaming child following you around attached to your legs? NOT ME! She does full on leech onto my legs now and will not let go. By the end, I was frustrated. My back hurt and I wanted to put her down. Its not like I was yelling at her or anything like that, I just know that my overall attitude was not a happy/lovey one. It was an attitude of the sooner you go to bed, the better. All I could think about was me, and if any of us think that these little ones can't pick up on these attitudes, you are crazy. They know when we are tense and frustrated and it makes them even worse.

When I was rocking her to sleep and giving her a bottle and she was so peaceful and content and relaxed in my arms, it hit me. It shouldn't be all about ME. Something was making her act this way. Something got her off of her normal self today. Why would I be upset that she actually wants to cuddle and be close to me and that she finds comfort in my arms? Someday she is not going to want that, and she is going to be too big to hold and worse yet, she is not going to want to be held. And that someday is going to come soon since time seems to be literally flying by. I need to embrace every moment that we have together. I LOVE that she is very dependent on me. Think about it, they are only wholly dependent on us for such a short period of their life. Soon she is going to be making decisions for herself and doing things on her own. Why do so many people think that we are overindulging our babies by holding them and comforting them when they are upset? Babies who are held more do NOT turn out to be spoiled brats or difficult kids as they get older. I can promise that it is not the holding and loving that makes kids who turn out "bad" bad. Read the research people. I hate defending why I do things for Lucy the way I do. It is because she needs me, and oh yeah, she is a BABY. I in no way am perfect in my attachment parenting techniques, but I try really hard. I still crack sometimes and can't handle it, but this is very very rare. And the thing is, for me at least, 99.9% of the things that I find myself wishing I could be getting done can wait. They can wait until she is having a better day and is not upset. I do have the time to sit and comfort her and if I didn't have the time, I would need to find it because the baby needs that attention. For me, that craved attention is so critical. I don't want to push her away to not crave my attention. So, I had a mental check tonight that I need to chill out when days go a bit hectic and embrace the fact that she still really needs me. I mean she really really needs me, and when she is tired or uncomfortable or sad, I am the one that she desires. And I like that. And I am 100% positive that these days are not the norm for us, but when she has a bad day, she needs her momma.

Do you guys find yourselves actually getting frustrated with your child even though they are only infants? And then do you think to yourself, they don't really know any better and are trying to be comforted the best way they know how - which is with their mom or dad? And then do you feel guilty, like I clearly am right now for how you handled the situation? I know it is normal to get frustrated. I just wish I could keep my frustrations in check a little better. Even though I know it is impossible, do you find yourself always wanting to be the perfect parent? I do, and put a lot of pressure on myself to do so.


Lynn said...

Oh yes, I have totally been there. There are some days that I just want to use the bathroom by myself, just 2 minutes please! You are a normal loving mother whose baby had a rough day. It sounds like she might be teething molars since she recently turned one.

The fact that you are worrying about not being 100% a good mother all the time shows that you ARE a good mother. We are human too!

Hang in there. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe you should just take her into the bathroom with you. Think of it as pre-potty training! Take care, I love your blog and all the adorable pictures.

mam said...

Oh my gosh, yes -- it's only been 9 weeks and we're still feeling each other out, and pretty much every day there's something to feel guilty for, something I've wished I'd done differently. I haven't had the experience you describe yet (except for the first few days in HCMC), but I'm sure if/when it happens, it'll be REALLY tough for me and I only hope I can handle it as well as I'm sure you did.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kelly, I hear you sista! Those days are just plain HARD! Right after Taylor was 1 she would have days like that - sometimes two or three in a row. It went on off and on for a couple of months - just several days a month, but those were long days. I can't tell you how many times I peed with her in my arms - I couldn't even put her down long enough to pull my pants down! It's exhausting.

You are so far ahead of the game that you had this pep talk with yourself so quickly! It took me several days of just thinking "WHAT is going ON?!" before I realized that I wasn't going to figure it out so I needed to just drop everything and just sit there and hold her - as long as she needed - which was almost all day sometimes.

I never figured out if it was her getting molars, a growth spurt or as my mom said, just a phase of her realizing where she belonged...which in her mind was wrapped around my leg. If she could have unzipped me and crawled inside my skin, she would have!

The point is that this too shall pass. It's not easy, but it will pass! Again, you are so far ahead of the game just realizing that it's ok to just let her need you and nothing at the house is going to fall apart if you don't get it done. You aren't being over indulgent! You are such a self aware parent. Lucy is so lucky. We should all be so introspective some times. You really amaze me.

Anonymous said...

brilliant post - I love to hear about your mothering. You are so very good at what you do. You are right that we all get frustrated but few of us take the time to step back and examine whether we are being unrealistic, selfish, etc.

I have had MANY a day that ends like you wrote about. And the worst are the days when, next day, your baby wakes up with a raging fever or a new tooth and you feel like such an asshole.

You are so wise to realize now what it takes many of us (ahem - me!) a few kids and years to figure out - they ARE only tiny once. You will totally look back on her toddlerhood and realize just how tiny she was and how glad you were to have given her so much of yourself, even on those hard days.

Susan said...

Yes, yes, I can absolutely relate, especially when Petunia doesn't sleep at night and I'm so exhausted. I often go several nights in a row of getting only 3 or 4 hours of sleep. I know some people don't need more than that, but I certainly do. Because of that, I get so cranky and short-tempered. Then the guilt sets in. Heck, I'm already loaded with guilt because I'm at work all day, away from her, so this is just added guilt on top of already existing guilt.

I look at all the things that are left undone -- housework, grocery shopping, running errands, etc. -- and it makes me feel like a failure, and more guilt sets in.

Then I look at my sweet Petunia and tell myself that I'll never have this particular moment with her again... ever. She needs me now. She wants to be attached to me right now. She wants me to play with her, sing to her, hold her, or rock her right now. How much longer is that going to be the case?

There are many days that I just need to have a stern talk with myself. I can only do the best I can, with my first priority being my daughter. Everything else will get taken care of eventually. It's unfortunate that I go through this fairly often, but at least I realize it deep down.

I've said it a million times. Being a single mom is the most difficult, but the most rewarding thing I've ever done. There's no one to "take a turn" with her when we're having a rough day. (I know you understand what I mean because Justin has to work away from home so often.) It's just plain hard! Having said that, there's NO WAY in the world I would trade my life with my daughter for anything!

Lucy has definitely been blessed with a wonderful mom. Try not to be so hard on yourself. (Now if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black!) :o)

Jo said...

I totally know what you mean.

Cami is a total mama's girl and can be very demanding.... Some days are a lot harder than others.

It will get to the point were I lust stick her in the BabyHawk and wear her around while I am getting stuff done.

I get very upset with myself if I get annoyed with her but, we are all doing the best we can.

Then every night when we snuggle together before she goes to sleep I think to myself no matter what I would not change anything for the world.

Hang tight, soon they won't need us..... :(

Pamela said...

Hi Kelly,

I just started reading your blog a little while ago. We are in the process of adopting from Vietnam. Anyway I just wanted to let you know that in the new Sept/Oct. issue of Adoptive Families Mag. is an article on 'Raising Sound Sleepers.' Although I don't have children yet, I'm not a 'let them cry it out' type of person either.

Hope your able to see the article and hopefully it helps :)


Shannon said...

I have been reading your blog for a while and I love it. I am not a momma...yet, so I have no advice. But I do want to thank you for being so open. A lot of the time we all just want to write about the fun, happy, easy times. But being a mother (or a wife or a daughter, etc) isn't always easy. So it's nice to know that other people have bad days. I may not be a mother yet, but I do agree with you; you can't hold or love your child too much. You seem to be a GREAT mom with a very beautiful and special relationship with Lucy.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I think every parent who is honest will tell you they've been there before. Like Lucy, it's pretty rare with Parker that he is frustration-inducing, but it happens at times (usually at night right in the middle of a very deep, restful sleep :)). While it is obviously important to not overreact or scare our kids by yelling or something, I also don't think it's necessarily bad that they see us getting upset or frustrated. They need to experience and understand that we have all the normal human emotions, and that being frustrated or upset is normal and can be handled in a mature way. If Lucy never saw you get upset or be frustrated, and then all of the sudden at age 4 you just let loose or melted down, she'd probably be completely afraid because she'd never experienced anything but an always-happy mommy.

Last week was actually one of those weeks...Parker woke up every couple of hours for 3 or 4 nights in a row with bad gas...and it was very frustrating and coma inducing to not sleep for 4 nights in a row. I felt very frustrated just holding him as he moaned and whined in a semi-sleep state. I think the worst part was realizing that there was nothing I could do about it, and feeling bad about that.

So, as long as you're keeping yourself in check and not going too far, I don't think you really need to feel guilty...even though I fully empathize that it is hard not to feel guilty after the fact.

Brenda said...

Loved your post Kelly! My girl gets VERY upset if I walk from her high chair to the sink! Right now my biggest frustration is her 5 yr old sister that just started kindergarten and is not adjusting well and also maybe a bit jealous of not being the baby anymore. So she is REALLY acting out and I'm trying to give her as much attention as I can with the baby attached to my hip. Umm yeah I'm tired and now up in the middle of the night cause I can't go back to sleep! We all go through exactly what you posted! keep your chin up soon she will be starting school, it goes so fast.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Such a raw and honest post that I could TOTALLY relate to as a new mommy with is also an over achiever by trade ;) Lots of us Type-A personalities may struggle with this I'm sure!

I think you did an AMAZING job of self talk through the situation and finding the root of the issue. For me, like you mentioned, its remembering "its not about me."

After being a "single married person" for such a long time and transitioning overnight to mommy -- its hard to drop those selfish habits of the past or that constant need to multi task! Its hard to go from doing what you want, when you want to doing what it right for the new little one who suddenly rules the roost!

I love hearing other experienced moms say "you are normal!" It makes me feel better too. After a frustrating day last week...I had to call my trusty mom friends for a drink...and that sure felt good.

Make sure to take time for YOU too! You have a loving supportive husband who can help make that happen! :)

Thanks for sharing! Sara

erinlo said...

Oh Kelly! I'm sorry it was a rough day, but I will definitely second what so many are saying- THANK YOU for being real!!!! Motherhood IS wonderful, but it is also difficult and I don't believe for one moment there is ANY mother out there who hasn't had at least a few of "those" days. I could rant on and on about this subject!

You are doing the right thing in trying to savor the moments when Lucy just needs you. You're right- everything else can wait. But, also cut yourself some slack if you find yourself needing a break. An occasional break makes me a much better mama!

You are a GREAT mom, Kelly. Although I have yet to meet you in person (which I'm hoping will be very first weekend of October), it is obvious that you love your girl like crazy. It is inspiring to so many who are regulars at the "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" blog.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes I have been there, done that. And I know I'll be there, doing that again another day.

I think we (mothers) are our biggest critics. We all want to do the best for our babies. We all want to be the perfect parent and the guilt is never-ending because we cannot be the perfect parent. There is no such thing.

I agree with what Jonathan said. Kids learn from us. It's OK to be frustrated, angry and upset sometimes. Just like it's OK to be happy, sad and excited. Kids learn from us and we need to set a good example on how to handle emotions.

I think you are doing a wonderful job...frustrations and all. All of this hard parenting will payback in a big, big way. :)

S. said...

The frustration is normal, those days are hard. Sometimes the only way I could cook and do dishes was to put M. in the backpack. You are a GREAT mommy!--You wouldn't be normal if sometimes you didn't get frustrated. And of course, I can add to the anecdotal evidence--kids whose needs are met as babies do not turn out to be spoiled and dependent, just the opposite.