The last 24 hours have been tough around our house. I am exhausted after two nearly-sleepless nights in a week. Asher has been discombobulated by my absence and more baby-sitter time than usual, and he has been busy all week with activities. Crockett is stressed about a lot of exciting but work-intensive projects. It should come as no surprise that this all takes a toll at some point.
It all became apparent last night. Asher and I took a shower, and while I was straightening up afterward, I let him run around naked for a while. As I came out of my room, I saw him proudly peeing on the hall carpet saying, "Clean up! Spray soap!" Ugh--the downside of having a kid who loves to clean and is obsessed with spray bottles. Needless to say, he did not fish his wish. Instead, we soaked up what we could with a towel, and then I declared an early bed time. I stuck to my guns with the usual three stories in the chair, one story on the potty, and then to bed. I thought I was so smart. On the webcam, I could watch him rolling around, sipping on his water bottle and getting settled in bed. I was sure he'd be asleep any minute. Then 20 minutes later, shrieking. Eventually, I went in, rubbed his back and reminded him that it was time to sleep, and when he seemed nice and calm, I left. Another few minutes of silence, and then more shrieking. Finally, about an hour after we had first said goodnight, I caved. I got him out of the crib, sat back down in the chair, and held him until he fell asleep, something I hadn't done in ages.
This morning he woke up about 20 minutes earlier than usual, and he was cranky. We made it through the first part of the morning without too much trouble, and at 8:00, I handed a seemingly happy kid off to the nanny before I headed off to an appointment. A couple of hours later, I had planned to meet them at the children's museum, where they had a playdate scheduled with one of Asher's friends and her nanny. There was a large school group on a fieldtrip there, so the nannies decided they would rather go elsewhere. I wanted to squeeze a workout in before heading to the office for an afternoon full of appointments, so I took Asher back to the car and said goodbye. Apparently, I underestimated the effect my brief appearance would have. By the time he got home, he was tired and frustrated and upset that I hadn't been there. Oops.
I eventually had to head to work, again leaving behind a seemingly contented kid. Little did I know that a volcano was about to erupt. Nanny leaves around 4:00. At 4:20, I got several calls to my cell phone, which I could hear from the exam room where I was talking with a patient. Finally I decided something must be wrong, so I went out an answered. Crockett wanted to know where I was, forgetting that I had to work that afternoon even though Thursday is usually my day off. Asher was a mess, crying and fussy and inconsolable. Apparently he had been like that for a while.
When I finally got home, Daddy and Asher were both exhausted and vegging out in front of some A-B-C youtube videos. We had dinner and planned an early bedtime for the little guy. Normal bedtime routine, and again, the shrieking. Again, Mommy held Ashie until he fell asleep. Goodbye, sleep training.
Weeks like this, lots of thoughts, mostly self-critical ones, enter my mind, ranging from doubt about my understanding of my own child and wondering if stay-at-home moms have a better sense of what to do to frustration with myself for not sticking to the cry-it-out method of sleep training that we've used for months and concern that I've ruined his ability to self-soothe permanently with the last two nights. This time, I even wondered if my assumption that we have successfully potty-trained him--something I have been so sure and proud of--was premature. I wish I could see the glass as half full: my child loves me; he misses me when I'm gone; despite having a working mother, he has secure attachment. While it's normal for a mother to worry about her child, and I suppose it's healthy to examine your parenting behaviors, I think it's sad that we hold ourselves to an imaginary standard of perfection. We all struggle. We all have bad days. We all have moments when we misinterpret our children's needs. We all cave from time to time. But few of us are willing to admit it. The good news is that our kids are resilient, and so are we.
Besides, it feels damn good to snuggle up together in that big chair.