Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Full disclosure

This sweet-faced girl

does not sleep, freaks out every time I leave her sight, and seems to hate her bed.  I know this because I am not sleeping, experiencing her wide vocal range of shrill shrieks to bone-jarring screams with every movement I make, and picking her up out of her crib when she screams hard enough to make herself cough.

I worry about what the neighbors think.

I worry about this little girl.

I worry about our soothing strategies.

Last night, after Hour 3 of trying to put this exhausted child to sleep was almost past, I nursed her on the couch to get the taste of Tylenol (because surely something is hurting if you act like this for so long, right?) out of her mouth.  We stared at each other in mute and mutual misery.

"Why are you doing this to me?" her eyes pleaded.
"Why are you doing this to me?" I nearly asked out loud.

I would occasionally break her gaze to glare at Cody, who was sitting in a chair. No one was grabbing him with a pincer grip.  No one was pulling his hair.  No one was freaking out in a jaw-clenching (God help me, I want to switch to bottles.  When can we start with roast and potatoes?) and back-arching way if he tried to move from the same contorted position he'd been holding for 2 hours.  Nope, he was just reading a book while I seethed. 

Why does he get to read a book?  I don't get to read books.  I can't even get through a short story like "The Dunwich Horror" in 2 weeks because I'm too tired when I go to bed and I was an idiot when I thought it would be really cool to move Evelyn out of our room because then we could turn on the lights and read before we went to sleep but that's a joke because we're not going to sleep before midnight ever, EVER again.

Meanwhile, Cody was probably wishing he could simply go to bed, but knew I'd murder him into a million pieces if he so much as yawned.  I have vague memories of when I could nurse her to sleep before he'd even come home from work and he'd miss her.  Eventually, he was the one to rock her to sleep last night.  She stayed asleep a whole hour before, you know, she woke up calling for me at a little before 1.  And a little before 5. 

My alarm is set for 5:30.

I'm not telling you this to whine*, but I did want to let you know what was going on around here.**  Sometimes, Evelyn fusses and it's incredibly difficult to calm her down.  Sometimes, she's very content.  Sometimes, she's only content if you do everything she wants and you must do it because if you don't, she'll be insecure and clingy for days on end and I don't want her to feel like she isn't cared for because she's a baby and this forms a lot of how she views the world forever.

I'm sure that my working-away-from-home guilt has nothing to do with this at all.  Nope!  It's totally easy for me to shrug off an upbringing that ingrained in me the idea that the best thing I could ever do would be to devote myself fully to the upbringing of my kids because when you work AND try to care for children, you probably won't do the best job at either and children are precious human beings who require so much work.  I mean, something about the economy and health insurance and how I enjoy the work I do.  Blah blah blah something about conflicted feelings about feeling guilty for complaining about having a job in this economy and guilt about depending on others to take care of Evelyn and guilt about enjoying leaving sometimes and guilt about leaving her when I don't want to.

If you know any parents at all (or if you are one), you know the drill.  It's sad and boring and tedious to hear about, especially because it's a situation that's so difficult to resolve.  The fact is that we're already in the best possible child-keeping arrangement right now, and Evelyn is loved and entertained and taught by anyone and everyone who keeps her.  Cody and I know how blessed we are.

We love this little girl.  We love how our lives revolve around her.  We are grateful that she is healthy and bright.  And sometimes I'm so anxious to prove to the Internet (even if most of the Internet is just reading that one Ms. Frizzle post I wrote 3 years ago because it's Halloween time and apparently a lot of people want to dress like her) that I love this awesome little baby that I project an image that people can't reconcile with the stories I tell of her being unhappy or fussy or just plain enraged.

Just a reminder: Evelyn is sometimes unhappy or fussy or just plain enraged.  And I am sometimes enraged when I read frugality websites that talk about the importance of living within one's means and getting by on just one income because it's judgmental reminder of yet another way I feel like we're failing each other and our baby.  And I'm unhappy when people don't seem to believe me when I talk about Evelyn having problems, like she's not a real baby.  And I want to fuss when people don't seem to believe we're as happy as we seem, even when we generally are.

That's just how things go.  And that's why I'm writing about it.  This isn't some deeply confessional post--it's just an update on what our lives are like right now.  With a pretty baby picture, of course.

Here's another, just for good measure.
This is the pretty baby's finger trying to grab my camera and eat it while I took a picture of Cody.  Since we're being very, very real today, why not?

*Just kidding!  Yes, I totally am.
**Really, that was mostly my intent. Really.***
***When did I get so defensive about super-honest posts?  Geez, Louise.


Anonymous said...

Speaking as a SAHM (Oh my crap do I ever hate that acronym.) for the foreseeable future, here's my perspective ('Cause you totally wanted unsolicited opinions, right?). If the stars aligned so that I could go back to work, I would jump on it. But it isn't the right time for so many reasons, and I'm trying very hard to be okay with that. But I still get the guilt. I had it when I was teaching, and I have it now. For what it's worth, I'm incredibly jealous of your family's ability to do things like work flexible schedules, have great childcare arrangements, maintain fiscal responsibility, bake things from scratch, and breastfeed.

Mom2Four said...

You and Cody are doing a great job with Evelyn and you are making the best choices for your family. That is what we are each supposed to do-take the time to carefully consider what is best for our situation and then put in the effort to try and do it.
We can't judge others' positions based on our lives...we never really know all of the details someone else deals with. You are doing a great job and it shows.