The dark place

by statia on August 3, 2007

There’s one thing, that I need to keep reminding myself, about myself. My brain is a complete disorganized mess. I get things done, but I do in a different process than everyone else. My brain never stops, long after I fall asleep, which takes me eons. I’m bi polar. I suffer from mild depression. It is what it is. I don’t ask for pity. I don’t use it as a crutch. I take it for what it is, and use it to my advantage. In general, it really doesn’t bother me. I own it. It’s my bitch

To say this week has tested every last bit of any brain disorder I have, is a complete understatement.

The Mini is not a scheduled kid. I try, but it’s really hard to get him to nap. 97% of the time, he’s a great sleeper at night. Save for the last week. Some sort of phase, and it happens. I know this. I’m not sure if it’s his gums or just developmental, but combined with the fact that getting him to nap for more than 25 minutes, in his crib, or anywhere (believe me, I’ve tried. Swing, our bed, his crib, the lovesac, his car seat, (driving, or not), stroller, my arms, you name it, I’ve tried it) is whipping me into a fetal position in the corner. It has tested ever last fiber of my being. Because of my brain working in such a wonky way, I need my daily life to be somewhat organized.

I feel like I’m failing miserably at that. I feel like I’m failing at being a parent, and there are some people that will read this and be smugly happy. On Wednesday the Meester came home early to take the Mini off my hands so that I could do other things, like clean my kitchen. On Thursday I sat in my room crying while the Mini screamed his bloody head off, because “woman, I refuse to take a nap and why are you doing this to me, why are you putting me in my crib?” and oh my god the DRAMA. By the time the Meester came home, I basically handed him over and said “I don’t care what you do with him. Just get him out of my face, I don’t even want to know he exists.” And then I cried some more. Yes, we went through a lot to get him here, and I’m grateful. I still look at him in disbelief that he’s ours and that I incubated him. But I feel more like shit because I feel as if I made this commitment to be here with him and I have the means to do that. I’m lucky. But the days are long and extremely tiring. I need some downtime in order to rejuvenate myself. I need regular naps out of him, and I’m failing at figuring out how to do it. He’s too smart for his own good. He knows how to work it. It’s physically and mentally whipping me. We both need this.

My life as a parent isn’t perfect, and I don’t pretend it is. Is he a fantastic kid? Absofuckinglutely. He’s smart and funny and happy. He’s a ham and dry, and he cracks me up. I have to work for it, but when I do, it’s so awesome. But I have a really hard time admitting certain aspects of my life. Not because I’m embarrassed, or because I want everything to seem like it’s all roses with him. There’s no happily ever after with a baby. There’s no sunset. After five months of adjusting to life with a baby, something has to give. There needs to be some sort of change. People who go to work during the day, they get breaks. They get to take lunch. Mamas lunchtimes are during naps, if they’re lucky to have them. In which case, they don’t get to fuck off and go to the mall to find a pair of shoes for that wedding they have coming up this weekend. No, it’s spent running around emptying the dishwasher and doing the laundry. I signed up for that when I decided to stay at home. I’m ok with that. But I need the naps to do that.

Last night was bleak. I didn’t come out of my room. The Meester took the monitor into the guest room. I took two valium, and a prescription strength benadryl and the next thing I knew, the Meester kissed me goodbye and took off for work. The Mini woke up for a bit, chatting himself up in his crib and then fell back to sleep until 9 am.

Today is a better day. We had fun. I spent hours kissing his sweet feet, while he grinned his gummy grin and laughed at my bad jokes and silly songs. He was so excited about his new sippy cup and played me like a fiddle during breakfast, where he PRETENDED TO POOP, in order to escape his high chair.

Well played baby, well played.

{ 26 comments }

Z. Hendirez August 3, 2007 at 8:15 pm

My kid was what sent me over the edge into depression, actually.

My wife had the same issues that you mentioned, almost to a T. She called me home from work on a couple of occasions just because she’d reached the end of the rope.

In the end, my wife going back to work was what saved her sanity. Mine’s still up in the air, but it has less to do with him these days.

It does get better, but don’t count on the napping improving much right away. Ours didn’t reach a regular nap stage until he was well past a year old. And there was a lot of crying involved. We found repetition and consistent “naptimes” (whether he slept or not) were about the only thing that worked.

As for being a good/bad parent, I suggest the following checklist:

Kid alive? Yep
You alive? Yep
Pets alive? Yep
Meester alive? Yep
House not burned to the ground? Yep

Congratulations. Successful day.

Dooneybug August 3, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Statia, we all have these times (days, weeks, months, longer…). Just because it took a struggle to have Mini does NOT mean that you have to be stronger than anybody else that’s had an easier time having a baby.

I probably call my husband at least twice a month to get his ass home ASAP because I just can’t deal with it anymore.

And that’s ok. You’re totally justified in your feelings and you’re right – every mom needs down time. Don’t feel guilty one little bit about it!

robyn August 3, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Show me the SAHM of any infant/toddler under 3 that hasn’t called her husband home at least once to retain her sanity, and I’ll show you a big fat liar. The amount of years you wait to have a child has absolutely no relation to how long the days can be once said-child arrives…

jesser August 3, 2007 at 9:24 pm

What is this? Are our kids totally synched up?? Miss Tabby is usually a wonderful night sleeper as well, but this week had us at our wits end. In fact, all last night she bawled her little head off so much so that we finally ended up taking her to the ER because we were sure SOMETHING had to be wrong. It sounds dumb now, especially after they sent us home with just a dose of tylenol, but at 6 AM after 8 hours of non-stop screaming, it made perfect sense.

I really understand what you’re going through and you are not a bad person or a bad mom. You’re honest. Don’t feel guilty about some time for you … it wil make you a better mom in the long run.

Tonya August 3, 2007 at 10:43 pm

What?? You mean to say that the life of a SAHM is not just eating bonbons on the couch all day? ;-)

Seriously… it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. I can totally see why moms in the 60s had cocktails at 5pm every day! While it was difficult to return to work and leave my miracle girl with a nanny, the mental break, the adult conversation, hell– even the commute time– etc, was so healthy for me. ME time.

Is it an option to get a babysitter for a couple of hours, even just once or twice a week? I’ve never gotten the impression that you’re much of a playgroup type, but I had one the first time around that saved my bacon (we had a babysitting co-op), and I made friends there who I could trust to pitch in when needed.

You need, you *deserve* a break during the day, whether you use the time to do chores or get out of the house alone. SAHMs don’t get sick leave, bathroom breaks, lunch hour, or vacation time. The perqs are pretty kick ass, but then there are days… really fucking hard days that psuh you to the brink.

Hang in there… and know I’m thinking about you.

Katrina August 4, 2007 at 4:28 am

A break from baby is REQUIRED for you to be the best momma possible. Last week, I called the hubby as the baby was screaming, I hadn’t eaten in over 16 hours, and I needed to poop. Yes me not the baby. (Some days there’s just no time for #2.)

Being a SAHM is the hardest job in the world, regardless of the path we take to get there. Try to find a time, at least every 2 weeks, where Meester has Mini so you can do something just for you. See a movie, take up a hobby, read at the coffee shop. You don’t have to be “on” all the time! The Meester and Mini will love the refreshed, recharged happier you.

Email any time you feel down,
Katrina, SAHM

Lori August 4, 2007 at 5:39 am

Get yourself a babysitter – pronto! It’s been a rough week over here and we’re also starting to look at daycares for my return to work. After this week, I’d drop them off tomorrow if I could.
Some days are just mind numbingly hard. Do what you can to get through them and if everyone’s still standing at the end of the day – job well done.
I can’t imagine anyone would be smugly happy to read this post. Being a stay at home parent is hard, anyone who thinks is sunshine and roses 100% of the time is lying or on some seriously good meds.

DD August 4, 2007 at 6:11 am

You know what? I love you more than ever after reading this post. I can’t explain why.

EJW August 4, 2007 at 6:35 am

I had the same kid. Slept great at night, did not nap for more than 30 min, preferably ON me. I learned to get a lot done in 28.5 minutes, but it was draining.

The best thing you can do is give yourself a break. With the Meester, a sitter, Good Dog Carl, whoever. Just take a little time to unwind.

waiting line August 4, 2007 at 7:31 am

Wow – you got great input from these folks. I got nothin’ for ya, other than to cheer you on. You’re doing great!

donna August 4, 2007 at 8:08 am

Sister, you know I understand. It is the hardest thing in the world. I know it’s unpopular in this day and age, but I am saved by the Pack and Play. I set that kid in there and drag it into the kitchen with me if I need to clean in there. We also have one upstairs and we use that one when I need to do stuff up there. I don’t leave her in there all day to amuse herself, but if I tried to do what I need to do on her nap schedule, I’d never get to eat, poop or shower.

SAHM is the hardest job in the world, like everyone has said. At least at an outside the house job, you get holidays and vacations and lunch hours. None of which the SAHM enjoys on any regular basis.

Don’t beat yourself up for what you need to do for you. Hand that baby off, make a drink or take your sleeping pill and recharge. You are doing a great job and a happy mom makes for a happy baby!

As for napping, are you at all comfortable with a bottle full of whiskey? I kid. Sort of.

erica August 4, 2007 at 9:01 am

I feel the same way as DD. After 4 miscarriages, 6 years of praying for a miracle, I sometimes hate myself when I can’t wait until daddy comes home and I can hand the baby off. Despite that daddy worked 12 hours and drove another 2, because at least he got to talk to other grown-ups and treated like an asset to his employer rather than screamed at for hours for no reason that he could tell.

You blogged what I was afraid to admit.

Camille August 4, 2007 at 12:48 pm

You are doing a great job. I remember when G was only 2 months old and I was still on maternity leave and I was ready to go back to work b/c I couldn’t handle it. Then when I quit my job (one year ago TODAY) and started staying home with him (at almost 2 1/2) I had some really stressfull days. Being a SAHM is hard. None of us get the credit we deserve – far from it. Hang in there.

Lut C. August 4, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I’d be far more worried about your skills as a parent if you refused to take a break.

Jenn August 4, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Been there, it really does get better. Six months seems to be another turning point where things get better again. At a year it’s even more awesome.

William was like that for me. For him, I had to let him cry a little while, alone, or he wouldn’t nap. Drove me up a freaking wall. When I’d finally get him settled down, then Nick of course would wake up. Hang in there.

Motel Manager August 4, 2007 at 5:17 pm

You have just described my last few weeks. Good night sleeper, NIGHTMARE during the daytime. Much crying has occurred, and not just by the baby.

Hang in there!

Shanna August 4, 2007 at 7:06 pm

If you didn’t write a post like this, I’d think you were crazy.

Meredith August 4, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Smug? Ummm…I’m more relieved to know that I’m not the only one who greets my husband at the door on occasion (okay, more often than “occasionally”) holding a baby and saying “take him now before I lose my mind.” And, ummm, my husband has even been stupid enough to make a few comments about how he “holds the baby all the time.” I’d be more annoyed if he wasn’t fixin’ to be a stay-at-home dad and see for himself. It’s freaking exhausting. EXHAUSTING. Sometimes I have days where I do nothing but look at the clock, wish for a nap to come and bring me a break. And on the days that it doesn’t. Yeah. I get crazy here too. (And I can’t believe how dirty my house is when I’m at home all of the time and not “working.”)

And OF COURSE you love the Meester. Just like I love Finn. And of course we waited forever for them and went through all of infertility hell to get here. But I’m sorta figuring that here is motherhood and it’s just as hard no matter how you reached it.

Anyway. Chin up. It’s really, really, really freaking hard. And I know that you’re doing a good job. And that it’s going to get a little less demanding. (Right? Someone tell me so.)

michele August 4, 2007 at 9:20 pm

I sure wish you lived next door to me. We could help each other out, one way or another. Being a mama is thee most exhausting job in the world, mentally, physically, emotionally. It would definitely be easier to go to work, have the social interaction, the adult conversations, the car rides without nursery rhymes. I’m so sorry you are having such a hard time. I know all about that, believe me. My hubby doesn’t even think I need any alone time or space without kids, ever. Wish I had good advice. But a lot of others feel similar pain with you!

ewe_are_here August 5, 2007 at 12:09 am

Ugh… I think we all have days like this.

I’ve found that Baby Boo (just like his big brother) naps better outside – it might be worth a shot. Just pop him into his stroller walk him about a bit, and then park him in the shade when he’s out.

It’s also why I take the baby shopping/browsing in the afternoons. Stroller often knocks him out for a fair chunk of time.

thalia August 5, 2007 at 7:25 am

as everyone else has said, it is entirely normal to have these kinds of days. Do stop holding yourself to impossible standards, and get a sitter, or at least stop worrying about the stuff you aren’t doing.

Brandi August 5, 2007 at 7:42 am

I don’t have any kids yet, so I can’t offer advice. I will, however, tell you that you are a great mom and there is nothing wrong with needing time to yourself. I think it’s time to start looking for someone you trust to keep the baby so you can do a date night with Meester or a spa day by yourself!

Tim K. August 5, 2007 at 6:05 pm

I know that you said you’ve tried everything, but here’s a couple of tricks my sister told me when I was a SAHD for the first year of the twins’ life: 1.) Try putting Mini in his car seat and sitting it on your dryer (if you have one) while it is running. Be sure to stay there near him in case it starts vibrating off. 2.) Try running the vacuum while you’re trying to get him to sleep. If that works, tape record the vacuum for future naps. Those two ideas worked wonders on my neices.

Like I said, I was a SAHD for the first year of our girls’ lives, and I know how you are feeling, too. I am bi-polar with moderate depression, and some days I couldn’t wait for my wife to get home so I could hand off the twins. Whatever you do, please do not hesitate to ask for help from someone.

Feel free to drop me a line anytime you need to talk.

Ro August 6, 2007 at 5:06 am

Hi there. You know this must be the week for moms to have annual meltdowns (with good reason) or something because I just had mine on my blog a couple hours ago. Dont you wish parenting came with a manual? *HUGS!*

Calico August 6, 2007 at 10:04 am

I have felt guilty for wanting to call my husband at work and complain, even tho my DD sleeps well most of the time, etc. In fact, I suspect she’s an easier baby than most. And yet I still complain . . . so that makes me what? The biggest baby in the world? I’ve tried to ignore my feelings of “how hard this” and “if I knew traveling with a baby would be like this” but you know, how fair is that? I think it’s good to be honest about things that don’t seem to be “that hard” sometimes feel impossible. And yet, we do it, morning after morning.

Sue/Holding Pattern August 7, 2007 at 9:37 am

I just returned to work after a 4.5 mo adoption leave and let me reassure you that working outside the home is a piece of cake compared to being a SAHM. I gotta tell you I am thrilled to be back in the office because I can actually concentrate on something for more than 3 minutes. I can actually check something off my to-do list at the end of the day. Not true when I was staying at home and it was driving me nuts. And it just got worse, because as he gets older (my little one is 9 months now), they become more and more demanding. At 6 months, he would happily play in his exersaucer or activity mat or whatever for at least 15 minutes. But at 9 months, he is 100% focused on grabbing whatever piece of paper I happen to be reading, whatever phone I happen to be talking on. And if he does not get to touch it (or worse, I have to take it out of his hands), he pitches a huge crying fit. “Woman, you have betrayed me by taking my favorite toy – last month’s AT&T bill – out of my hands. How could you?”
He will not let me focus on anything that is not him unless he is in his Ergo. And then if I leave him in his Pack and Play for 2 seconds while I use the bathroom, he starts screaming.

WOTH is giving me some sanity back. I did not like staying at home at all. It is so hard. Part of me feels bad for leaving him in a family daycare, but then I can see that I am such a better, more patient, parent now than one month ago. I really enjoy my time with him now. And he seems to really like all the activity at the daycare and likes going there. I see him learning a lot there – from the caretakers as well as the older kids (who fawn over him and are always trying to make him smile). But flip side is he’s on his 3rd illness in 4 weeks.

you just can’t win.

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