The Elusion of Sleep
It’s no secret that Ivy is a fairly poor napper.
I’m sure in years to come I will reread this post and pompously wonder how I could attach so much importance and energy to this fact, but right now, when a portion of up to 1.5 hours a day is spent monotonously patting a sleepless baby, desperately willing her to go back to the land of slumber, it’s fair to say that it is high on my priority list for change.
And let’s be honest- if you ask me in a year how Ivy was as a baby, I’ll be sure to vaguely reply, “Oh Ivy? Yeah I think she was a fine sleeper? She has had great naps in the last three days so she must have always done that, right?” Motherhood: faithfully providing the perspective of a goldfish.
It didn’t help that yesterday, while feeling achy and fluey and looking at the couch with desperate eyes, Ivy did her usual one cycle then wake up screaming routine. I reluctantly hauled myself to her room to settle her and began the monotonous “Shhhhh….pat…pat… pat…Shhhhh” and flicked open Facebook to see that the first article was a confessional about how an angelic mother loves waking up in the night to her baby because time is so short, and blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, this time around, I feel like I was a lot more laissez faire about the whole night sleeping thing and didn’t get caught up at all in how quickly Ivy would be able to go from 7-7… But I am also a massive control freak and if there is a way I can help my baby sleep earlier, then I’m sure as hell going to try that!
And day sleeps, they are a whole different story… Just try exuding that encompassing bliss when you are sitting in a dark room with a freezing hand, wincing while listening to CRASH! BANG! GIGGLE! WAIL! on repeat in the living room from two gung ho preschoolers…
The article wasn’t even really that bad, it was the comments from mothers desperate to prove how loving and empathetic they are… Gushing about how they love every single minute with their baby and they would never even think to get frustrated from a refusal to stay asleep.
Let’s just say the whole self-comparison thing wasn’t helpful at that moment and I didn’t exude the patience of a saint… Or any of the aforementioned mothers. Dave may or may not have received a few expletive laden texts. I doubt he even blinks anymore when he picks up his phone to see my (completely rational) tirades!
In the end, to my surprise, Ivy actually managed to put herself to sleep, very soon after I stormed out of the room to give myself a break. But I wasn’t exactly clamouring to watch back the tapes of my petulance.
Now, here I am at 3:00am, with the insomnia of someone who studiously thought putting herself to bed at 8pm was the ideal way to beat this dastardly flu. The house is dead quiet and I have all the perspective that I need now (apart from the rhythmic grumble of Dave’s snoring) to process my reactions.
One of my great fears is that my children will see me as cold, hard, controlling. And that version of myself comes right to the fore when I’m attempting to bend an overtired baby to my will. I am not naturally what you would describe as ‘maternal’ and I have strong ideas about how my children should behave and sleep. Having the juxtaposition of the sensitive, empathetic, patient mother-types at that moment just made me ashamed that I wasn’t more like that.
I’m not even sure whether I should be aiming to further my strengths as a mum, or just assimilate my identity into the traditional stereotype. I have a hunch that God made us all different for a reason, and that being true to your own style of parenting is important… But I don’t want to use that as a licence to be a hard ass either.
Something tells me I may still be working out the ideal balance through my whole parenting life. In the meantime, it is almost 4am and sleep continues to elude me… Better go work on that!