Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Power of Friendship

Yesterday was a challenging day.

I prefer to start my days quietly. I crave a few minutes of alone time first thing in the morning, before the rest of my family wakes up. I drink a few sips of hot coffee, check my email, facebook and twitter accounts, and read a blog or two. This early morning peace stays with me throughout the day, and helps me be a better wife and mother. I didn't get that time yesterday, and thus began a downward spiral.

Joseph has not been sleeping. That is not an exaggeration. He will, at most, give us two hours at a stretch. Oftentimes it's more like 20 minute stretches before he fusses and cries. I am incredibly sleep deprived, and it's starting to affect me in negative ways. I'm less patient that I'd like to be, I don't have the energy to cross tasks off my to-do list, and I'm snappier with my husband. Yesterday morning, after getting roughly 3 hours of sleep total, I had to stay in bed until the last minute to catch every last second of sleep that I could. I didn't get up until I heard Stephanie knock on the door at 6:45, and from the minute my feet hit the floor I had to be "on."

Dan left for the gym as soon as he got out of bed, so I was by myself for the breakfast and getting dressed routine. While these tasks typically fall to me anyway, it's hard when there isn't another adult in the house for at least a few minutes in the morning. The kids and I left before he returned, heading off to the baby store for diapers and formula, the mall, and a stop at my sister's house for lunch.

During our errands, the kids were relatively well behaved, but Joseph was fussy off and on. He never took a solid nap, waking every time the car stopped. We didn't head home from my sister's house until 1:30, and while the kids were fed, I hadn't eaten anything since the banana and strawberries I had at 7am. This, combined with no sleep, made me irritable, but I was pretty proud of the fact that I didn't take it out on Stephanie. I actually made sure to chat with her the whole ride home so that she wouldn't fall asleep and ruin nap time.

I was able to get her in bed fairly quickly, but Joseph had no interest in going to sleep. Finally, in a desperate attempt to get some food in my system, I let him stay up and play in his bouncer chair. I devoured a bagel with cream cheese and a bag of chex mix. Not healthy, and not conducive to losing the weight that i'm determined to lose. This just brought my mood down a little more, because I was disgusted with my lack of self-control.

I attempted to put Joseph to bed again, but still no-go. So I fed him, made a chicken pot-pie for dinner, and tried again. Still nothing. Finally I decided to just put him in bed and see what happened. The second I laid him down, I heard Stephanie wake up. I sighed wearily, because that meant I hadn't had one minute to myself all day. I don't require much...just 10 minutes is plenty for me, but in that moment I knew that I wasn't going to get any. I also knew that Dan would be going to a meeting at 7:30pm, and Joseph has been staying up crying until sometime after 9, so my day wouldn't end until at least that point.

I got Stephanie up, and to her credit she was fantastic. Not whiny or cranky at all. Joseph on the other hand, was a different story. He screamed and screamed in his bed. I kept going in to him, to no avail. My heart was breaking at this point, because I could not help him. If I held him, he wriggled and screamed, pulling my hair and scratching at my chest. I had no choice but to put him in his bed and let him scream it out. (I am not a fan of the cry-it-out method of sleep training, and do everything possible to avoid it, but these were desperate times.)There is nothing worse than an overtired baby who can't be calmed, and it made me feel like a horrible mother to listen to him.

As I sat on the living room floor, listening to my poor baby scream, and my toddler playing innocently in her playroom, I felt a wave of anxiety and panic start to wash over me. All the weeks of exhaustion, the looming to-do list, the screaming baby, and the way our day had turned out started to overwhelm me. It was at that very second that my phone beeped, indicating that I had received a text message. I grabbed it, and saw that it was from my best friend.

She was texting  me with some info she needed to tell me, and as we shot texts back and forth, I explained what was going on and how I was feeling. In a few short words, she managed to talk me off of the ledge. She told me it was ok. She said that she has days like that too, it's awful and frustrating, but it will end. Tomorrow will be better. I am a good mom. She understood. Those powerful words were enough to snap me out of the funk I was in. They let me know i'm not alone...i'm never alone. Motherhood can be isolating at times, but there are people out there who support me. With that powerful but simple text message, I was able to breathe again. I stood up, brushed myself off, and repeated her phrases over and over in my head. It's ok. I'm not alone. Someone understands. I'm not a bad mother.

I went into my  bedroom, picked up my baby, and rocked him to sleep. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing and cuddling with my toddler. And I thanked God over and over again for putting my friend in my path right when I needed her.


  1. Sometimes all it takes is the right person to say the right thing! You sound like me, I try to get up at 5:30 to have some 'me' time. My oldest gets up between 6 and 7. My baby is a SCREAMER and likes to be held while I stand up so I never know how the day is going to go. If I don't get that time in the morning, my day is over before it started!

    Your not a bad mother, your a tired mother! I know it's hard to listen to but sometimes we have to let them cry just so we can get ourselves together. If I am stressed or frustrated it just makes things so much worse.

  2. Thanks for understanding! It makes all the difference to know that i'm not the only one going through this. And luckily, yesterday and last night were so much better. Does your baby sleep all night?


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