In many ways, this has been a trying week. Monday and Tuesday each brought us a kiddo up in the middle of the night for 2.5+ hours. You add that on top of the normal wakings (HD) and feedings (RL) and I think I got maybe 7 hours of sleep for the two nights combined. Wednesday, though, was the real kick in the pants because I ended up spending 2.5+ hours with both of the kiddos at various medical offices, only to find out that HD has bronchitis and RL has pneumonia. And here we had just gotten over the last round of crud and had a couple of healthy days…
I’m surprised my sleep deprived self didn’t totally flip out on Wednesday. I’ve lost it over smaller things here lately, that’s for sure. You see, much as I don’t like it or want to admit it, I have been one mad mama lately. It’s not that I don’t have loads for which I am grateful. I do. I am. But it also seems that I’m teetering on the edge a lot these days between keeping my cool and watching it fly right out the window.
Now, owning up to something like this is hard. It is exposing and scary. But I’m willing to share my struggles with folks on the interwebs because I’ve learned that rarely are we alone in our struggles, especially when it comes to parenting. By putting words to our concerns we can relate to one another and lighten the load a bit. It is not just that misery loves company. There can be real relief in knowing “I’m not the only one!”; so, if by sharing my own “downs” I can tell someone else that they are not alone, then all the better.
As with most of my moods, I think my anger levels hinge on my sleep levels. When Raegan is being kind and only waking me once during the night, I am a much happier person during the day. When she has me up two or three times and Harrison is popping in our room two or three times (as he still sometimes does at night), I am a zombie during the day. Well, maybe I’m more of a monster. I get crabby and short-tempered and the whining and crying and short-lived attention spans of small children set my nerves shaking. They are small children – babies, even! They whine and cry and move from one activity to the next. I recognize that these are normal behaviors, but that doesn’t seem to make them any easier to handle some (sleepy) days.
A friend of mine, who has had her own share of sleep struggles with her kiddos, describes this as a “dark place” that she goes where she no longer wants to be around normal people (i.e. those with children who sleep). Needless to say, I know this dark place a little too well lately. I have been so wrapped up in stress and so foggy in my head from sleep deprivation that I do struggle to be out in public sometimes. As in, I can’t carry a conversation because I can’t remember what the ‘eff we were just talking about thirty seconds prior which makes me feel like a bit of a dolt and then I get paranoid that the person I’m talking to also thinks I’m a dolt and then I get sad that I’m such a paranoid dolt and then, well, you see – the cycle of bad moods spins on from there.
It’s not just my social ego, though, that has taken a hit. It’s how I feel as a mom. I have moments when I’m so frustrated and so achy tired that I just want to sit down in the middle of the floor and have my own tantrum. Kicking, screaming, crying – that’s what I feel like doing. While I haven’t officially gone that far (yet), these are the same moments that I tend to do more yelling and snapping at Harrison which only serves to make me feel worse later when the mommy-guilt settles on my heart. Just because he is uberactive and I am exhausted does not make him a bad kid; it just makes him a good kid who I am challenged by on fairly regular basis. No one ever said challenges were inherently bad; they can be amazing, or at least they can bring about amazing results, and that is what I hope to see for my son. Maybe we fight and push (metaphorically) and struggle with one another because we are two irons in the same fire, working to shape one another into something greater than we are as individuals….
Going back to the whole not flipping out on Wednesday thing…normally when someone tells you that your kids are sick, it is not cause for celebration. And trust me, I was not doing a happy dance in the doctor’s office that afternoon! But it did give me a moment to pause, look back at the previous days and nights and go, “Ohhhh, so this is what was going on.” I know my children need me every day, but there is something about having them both be sick again that just told my hot-tempered little brain that I needed to put on my big girl pants and get through it. So there. There is the silver lining in this week of tiredness and crap. I did it. I found a way to get past the anger (mostly) and be there for my kids. It wasn’t pretty and I certainly haven’t been a saint the last couple of days, but I did my best and honestly, that is enough.