Friday, December 19, 2008


Yesterday was one of those Argh! days – the kind I had early on when I lacked sleep, the kind I had in the spring and summer when River didn’t nap and the kind I’d been happily without for a while as River was napping up to twice a day and able to happily amuse himself.

1. He is down to one nap, which is in the afternoon, when the babysitter is here.
2. He has been especially anxious, cranky and needy this week.
3. He is highly mobile now and able to get into everything, which means I have to be on increased guard for his safety and I’m constantly having to clean up after him.

A typical morning play time – River pulls all the groceries I bought the previous night out of the bag and scatters them on the kitchen floor. Then he gets into the garbage can and pulls things out piece by piece, smearing the mango skin on the floor after waving it around a bit. Next he opens a cabinet and pulls out all the baking goods, examining the bags of flour, sugar and corn starch in the process. Then he races up the stairs, heads to his toiletry shelf, and proceeds to pull each one of those items off of the shelf.

Today I handled it better because I asked Grace to come earlier and I knew my shift was limited. But she didn’t come until 1 yesterday and I was counting down the minutes to her arrival like I did during River’s first weeks. I spent too much time dealing with poop, pee, food, whines and pick-ups and I couldn’t handle any more. Please take him! I wanted to call out. I need a break.

I have great respect for the people who can take care of children all day. But yesterday reminded me that I’m not one of them. I’d go batty.

Even as I recognized I wasn’t enjoying it, I felt bad for feeling that way. Just after a disgusting poop or a tiring pick-up, he’d so something so incredibly cute (like imitating Mark in being a monster, raising his hands and growling as he leaned in the most baby-like menacing way he could into me) that I’d wonder how I could tire of being with this little creature.

In the evening, when Mirena’s mom, Carmen, came to pick her up, I told her about my frustration. I was happy to hear that she understood, doubly so now that she’s pregnant with her second and not feeling well.

“You’re lucky in that River is usually so calm,” she said. “But Mirena has always been a demanding baby. By the time David gets home, I pass her off to him and tell him she’s all his. I can’t deal with any more. David has more patience than I do.”

David is also struggling right now since he’s working on his doctorate as well as working part-time and putting in substantial baby-care hours, even more now that Carmen is pregnant again. “If I can read 10 pages while I’m watching her, I’m lucky,” he said. His tired face told me that he was at a similar point of feeling he’d had enough.

It made me feel better to hear someone else admit that even though they might love their baby to pieces, at times they need a break. For me, knowing I fully control at least a part of almost every day, knowing that there will be a period in which I can do something that doesn’t involve taking care of someone else, helps me immensely in getting through the times when the care seems overwhelming.

How do you get through the rough patches?

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