Category Archives: Motherhood

Sleepless In Seattle Or Where Ever It Is We Live

By now you have heard me belly ache about my daughter’s sleeping or lack there of. I’m like a broken record whining off key and out of tune on a turn table with no off switch. If you’re too young to know what a turn table is I’m really in trouble (look it up you young’ens). I’m really in trouble anyway because no sleep is bad news according to all of the health reports I’ve read lately. After 21 months of this it’s amazing that I’m not just sitting in a chair staring into space for most of the day or just drooling on myself even. Yuck, I really don’t like saliva. Anyway, you can imagine the advice I have gotten on this topic over the past year. Everyone has a sure cure to remedy the situation. This is my story on how nothing (so far) has worked.

First there was the warm bath before bed, calm and quiet book reading, and dim lighting. It sounds like a nice date with yourself, but in fact this is what all baby books seem to recommend. The problem is my daughter falls asleep easily, she just doesn’t stay asleep – so nice, but no solution. Then there was the feed her a big, heavy meal and of course it’s polar opposite: a small, light meal. Neither have made much difference. Except the big meal made her roll around with gas pains and the small meal made her hungry for a snack in the middle of the night.Why not? We’re up anyway. Light blocking curtains are in place, but she wakes up at 3 am (the witching hour) so no help at all. Then we tried the no nap during the day policy idea which was hell on earth for all involved. The poor kid was exhausted and cranky and frankly so was I. We have put her to bed early and also put her to bed late. By some criminal twist of fate going to bed late always makes her wake up early (and also in the night) and going to bed early also makes her wake up early and in the night. The most traumatic experimental night was a recent one where we attempted to let her cry it out. We were determined not to go into her room. So there we were, in bed in the middle of the night, listening to the soul crushing crying coming from our little girl on the first floor. Before long Jim caved in and went down to right all of our wrongs. It was a good thing he did too because she had somehow gotten her foot over the crib bumper and wedged between the crib and the wall. She was stuck and we were inexcusably guilty for not coming to her rescue. We will probably have to pay enormous therapy bills when she grows up (for us not her) and all because we selfishly wanted to sleep through the night.

It gets worse. Today I clicked on an article from The Week, “Does snoring make kids crazy?” Mostly because I wanted to know what they meant by “crazy” and I was given one more thing to worry about. Apparently children with sleep problems are more likely to develop behavioral problems like hyperactivity by the age of 7. They are talking about ADHD which has been diagnosed in my family so it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine this could be in our future and this label could be thrust upon our sweet and sleepless little child. The article assumes that lack of sleep causes changes in a child’s neurological makeup, but I wonder if the converse is also true. Can a neurological difference be causing the sleep problems? I’m worried, but at the same time at least ADHD is something familiar and something I can understand. Her pediatrician assures me that some kids don’t sleep through the night until they are two and that there is still hope. Hope. Hope is what I am always clinging to without apology and without shame. Hope that someday I will sleep again for eight hours straight and so will she.

As for me I am so tired that sometimes when I wake up in the night I am not sure where I am. I’m a bit disoriented for a moment and have to remember which side of the bed to roll out of before I attempt to climb down the stairs. It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make, but not without complaining a little or a lot or sometimes all day long. I’m stubborn. I’m Irish. I won’t give up even if I have to meet the UPS guy at the door wearing my pajamas (because choosing an actual outfit requires the kind of decision making that my tired brain can’t always muster the energy to do). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know this can’t go on forever. Now if I could just turn that light off and find a nice quiet place to rest my eyes for a bit I might be able come up with an appropriate ending for this blog post. That doesn’t look likely.

Here is a link to the article I referred to in case anyone wants to read it: http://theweek.com/article/index/225210/does-snoring-make-kids-crazy

Midnight Play Time

“Mama? Mama? MaaaaaMaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!?” This is what I have woken up to for the past three nights at, yes – you guessed it, midnight. AND again at 1:30 am and yet again at 2:00 am. For some crazy and unknown reason my daughter has been spending half the night wide awake and ready to play. Last night when Jim went down to attend to her needs, wants, and every toddler middle-of-the-night desire she actually asked him if she could watch the “Wizard of Oz” (he said no.). She’s got nerve! If this doesn’t end soon I may have to sleep in my car, the dog house, or maybe even the basement just to get a good nights sleep.

Last night was the third night in a row that we suffered through these post bedtime theatrics. At midnight, when the screaming and demand for play began, I rocked her, soothed her, and gently laid her back in bed. At 1 am I tried reasoning with her, covering her with her favorite blanket and singing her favorite songs (off-key of course, just the way she likes it). By 2 am I was begging and pleading with her to pleeeeeeze, pleeeeeeeeze go to sleep. I was getting desperate. Last night there was a special encore performance around 3:30am that had me marching into her room and declaring that this was the final trip I would make to her bedroom. I plopped her onto her back, threw the blanket over her head and marched out of her room determined to get some sleep.

That is when the howling and screaming began. That is when she began shouting, “No! No! No! Down. Down. Down.” That is when I considered crying myself to sleep. Instead, I lowered the volume on the baby monitor and inserted ear plugs. Oh, I could still hear her shouting her demands, but she was a bit muffled and far, far away sounding. I closed my eyes and went to my happy place. I thought about my ideal vacation and concluded it would be a luxurious hotel room with a comfortable bed and sound proof walls. I could probably sleep for a week straight and never grow tired of the novelty of uninterrupted, deep sleep. Dreams don’t last for very long though, especially when your toddler wakes up just three hours later and is ready to get up for the day. This is my cue to crawl to the coffee maker and pour myself a few gallons. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tonight will be the end to the romper room. If not, the dogs may have to make room for me.

Hey, Loser, Get A Job: Thoughts On Choosing My Career Path

As a new mom, one who had chosen to stay at home with my daughter and turn art making into a job, my career status had been questioned multiple times by all kinds of people. If motherhood alone was not considered a job being an artist certainly wasn’t an acceptable form of employment either. The whole “get a job” mantra was delivered to me in many different nuanced ways, some subtle and some more direct. Mostly they were used to shame me for the choices I had made. This is a little about my experience and how I overcame or ignored criticism and judgements from people who just didn’t understand the choices I was making. To anyone who is going through this same experience, don’t worry, there are people out there who think and want to live the same way you do. Don’t give up until you find your tribe because that is when amazing things begin to happen.
Hey, Loser, Get A Job! Thoughts On Choosing My Career Path
Hey, Loser, Get A Job! A real one.
“You haven’t found a job yet?” She said, her voice dripping with accusation and complete disdain for me. I could feel my face redden with the shame I was feeling. I had not been looking for a job. Jim and I had decided that going to college full time, working on getting our business off the ground and maintaining the house was enough for one person to handle. I knew it was enough for me, but still I felt guilty and then I felt angry for feeling guilty and then I just felt plain tired. I was tired of explaining myself to people who didn’t hear me. This wasn’t the first time my choices were questioned and certainly not the last time. Little did I know how many negative comments I was about to receive.
Yoda-Booda dog painting
At the end of my last semester (of the graduate program I was enrolled in) Jim and I decided to have a baby. So, there I was pregnant and doing my best to complete all my coursework in between the vomiting and the doctor visits. Friends and family were constantly asking me when I was going back to work. Where was I going to work? Why wasn’t I working?! I didn’t understand what all of the excitement and panic was about. Jim and I had spent hours and hours discussing our plans. When I came home from my counseling classes exhausted and stressed out Jim said, “Are you sure you want to be a Counselor? I’m not sure you are suited to it. You worry too much about people. You absorb all their pain. I’m worried about you.” I thought about that. I was not very good at keeping good boundaries and the stories I heard broke my heart and kept me up all night. Not to mention, I secretly had a feeling I wasn’t going to be able to help many people. I couldn’t untangle myself enough to look at their lives objectively. I was living their failures and pain right along with them. That’s when I started painting again. It helped me think and sort out my feelings. Jim’s reaction to my painting shocked me. He wanted to know why I had been wasting my time doing other things when I could have been painting all this time. I confessed that I had moved to New Mexico in the hopes that I would find more time to paint (in such a laid back atmosphere), but had filled my time with so many other things. Things I had much less passion for.
 

Then my daughter was born and still people asked, “Aren’t you going back to work soon?” and “Don’t you think it’s time you started working again?” I didn’t know how to answer them. At first I thought they were plain crazy. I hadn’t slept more than 90 minutes at a time for weeks and sometimes didn’t even have time to brush my teeth. I already had a job. The hardest job I ever had! Plus, I waited almost 35 years to have a baby. I had spent most of my life taking care of and loving other people’s children. I finally had my own child. I didn’t want to be away from her all day and I didn’t need to be. Not to mention, between taking care of a baby, supporting a budding business, maintaining the house, and of course painting I didn’t see much room for a typical job. When your husband can make more in one hour than you can in an entire day and daycare would eat up most of your income what would be the point? Especially when I was already doing what I wanted to be doing. We decided that this was the perfect time and opportunity for me to concentrate on becoming an artist and to enjoy being a mother. I know I have disappointed some people with my choices, but this is my life and my time. Shouldn’t I spend it the way I feel is best?

 

Nobody asks me about working anymore. They have either given up on me or have accepted me for who I am. I don’t feel shame or doubt anymore when I say I am a Stay-At-Home mom who paints. I know I am not some lazy, shiftless person mooching off of my spouse. I am not eating bonbons and watching TV all day. I am busier, more creative, and more productive than I have ever been at any other time in my life. Jim tells everyone I am an artist with so much enthusiasm and joy that nobody can ever say anything negative in response. It feels good to be doing what is right for me and for my family. I don’t judge other people for their choices because I know they have good reasons for making them. There will always be naysayers, but I don’t want to be one of them. Most importantly, I try not to let other people extinguish my pride anymore. Sometimes I completely fail in those attempts, but I laugh because both my mom and my husband always say, “Don’t listen to them. They are just jealous!” How can so many people be jealous of me? It sounds so ridiculous, but maybe it’s true. I am pretty happy and I know that just drives some people crazy. Isn’t there an old saying that goes something like “Living a good life is the best revenge”? To all those people out there living a good life despite set-backs and criticism I applaud you and your efforts. Keep up the good and sometimes hard work of living an authentic life! In the end it might be the only thing that matters.