this is what night time entails
in other folks homes
Last night is a night that will shine in infamy. From 2-4 am the wee-er one head-butted me, scratched me, climbed all over me, delivered many, many consecutive kicks to my solar plexus, sucked my milk dry, and finally rammed her head so hard into mine I bit my tongue.
As we wrestled and struggled and I tried to get her to lay down calmly and sleep, my husband gently snored. Until I lost my mind a little bit, and in a rare show of excellent parenting I screamed at my child, "WHY WON’T YOU FUCKING SLEEP?"
This, I’m afraid, made her cry. It made me cry, too. In body wracking, sobs of defeat. I felt like an abject failure as a mother when the last vestiges of my mama-ing arsenal were obscenities and tears. I cried and cried. Ironically, as soon as my wailing began, hers ceased. She sat on the bed and stared me, three fingers in her mouth with her head cocked very slightly to the side. Her wispy hair stood on end, from the hours of ramming it into me and the pillows. I looked at her sweet face, feeling so in love and feeling so helpless.
As she continued to stare at me I had the horrifying thought that right at that very moment she was formulating her first long-term memory of me. This made me cry more. Finally, I felt a hand on my head and my husband wondered aloud how long this pathetic scene had been going on. I wailed something about "two hours! two fucking hours!" and then I dissolved into another wave of tears and self-doubt. I had frightened myself with the intensity of loathing I felt for my baby as she kept me awake; as she kept hurting me. While we were wrestling, I didn’t like her very much. I wanted to get away. And at that small moment, it didn’t matter to me that she was crying. I wanted her to cry. I wanted her to feel the misery she was causing me. And that thought scared me. Hence the meltdown.
My husband, sensing the direness of the situation (how many times do you wake up in the middle of the night to see your baby sitting silently, while your wife thrashes around?) offered to take her downstairs for a while. I couldn’t even say yes. I just shrugged and wiped my nose.
Less than thirty minutes later they were back – she was sound asleep. He gently placed her next to me, and he crawled into bed. He patted me on the head and I fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of CPS and alternate universes where babies took care of mamas.
It was a bad night.
But now it’s morning and I feel a little better. The wee-er one was cheerful when she awoke, and even cheerful when the babysitter arrived (for the most part). Now I’m at a cafe, ostensibly here to work on a new book, but I had to get this out first. A public confession of my sins.
I know every mama and baby has nights like we had. I had just hoped that after my girl turned one, these nights wouldn’t be quite so awful.
So I’m drowning my feelings of inadequacy with spinach feta quiche and a plate of potatoes, onions and peppers. The food is very good. I’m pretending I deserve it.