Let me preface this post by saying that I absolutely love being Momma. It is everything I dreamed of and then some. No one fooled me into thinking it would be easy. Part of becoming a mommy at the age I did was that the blinders fell off long ago; and that if you are at all like me you may even have given up on that dream of cherubic faces with something sticky and unidentifiable plastering their chubby cheek to your own - and having that dream walking and talking/crying/screaming in your home is like a gift straight out of God's own hand. In fact, it is.
No, I do not regret this season. I don't even wish it was over. If anything I wish I was more Mary and less Martha and perhaps hadn't been such a jerk to naps when I was a kid.
But I want to share, not only for myself, but just in case even ONE exhausted mommy clinging to the end of the rope and staring in horror as it unravels finds this, reads it, and feels less alone. Or is reassured that she is not evil, ungrateful, the devil in Prada (or Dearfoams), a failure, or any number of those negative things we tell ourselves when we're low.
After tearfully praying to God in the middle of the night, begging Him to make my youngest go to sleep, confessing that I'm at the end of my rope and can't hang on anymore ... I discovered He was waiting to catch me, not just give me more rope. And though He won't always miraculously knock my child unconscious ... He will send His light straight into my heart in ways I never could have anticipated that make it all ok in the morning. Something about the sun peeking over the horizon chases away the dark thoughts even if you are exhausted and now face a day of meals, snotty noses, discipline, towering Mega Blocks, "spit that rock out," chasing vultures away, and all the things that come with being you today without enough sleep, your quiet time, but thankfully some coffee and always enough Jesus.
I had mentioned we were doing Ferber ... But the flu struck before we were done. So we closed up shop. And the sniffling and coughing and night nursing and altered schedules dragged on and on. And now I'd say where in a worse place with Victoria Grace's sleep than where we started. We are to the nurse-to-sleep-hold-me-just-right-just-long-enough-don't-breathe-wrong-laying-me-down point. I spent several months here with Shelby Hope.
My own experience has been that nursing an "older" baby isn't always the wonderful bonding experience the Internet and various breastfeeding support groups portray. Sometimes it is agonizing "when can she try cow's milk?" survival. It is crouched in fear with one can behind their head hoping they won't hurt you when they pull away and forget to let go. How some moms enjoy doing this well into the toddler years is beyond me; more power to you my sisters.
And holding them to sleep. Oh those who relish this must not feel the press of things that need to be done (see, I'm a reluctant Martha), have a busy older child, and have cuddlers. My children are not cuddlers. Victoria does not gently sigh and nestle into my shoulder where she would happily spend the rest of her childhood. She thrashes. She whips her head back like she'd like you to drop her on the floor. She gets comfortable then decides she needs a different position. She swipes angrily at your stray hairs in her face because she has switched off the shoulder you tried to make comfortable for her. By the time she falls asleep she has you contorted into a position that tweaks your back and makes you feel ever ounce of her long 17 pound body sprawled across your arms.
As I listened to her breathe this morning at her third waking, trying to gauge the perfect time to lay her down (I never found it) realizing this was the 7th time I would be trying, I called out to God. At first I thought He didn't hear me because Shelby turned her light on (too early).
But later, when it was ok for Shelby to get up (she laid back down after I went and told her it was too early) she was happy. Excited! She wished me good morning, told me "I love you momma," and expressed her concern for Tordan (who was crying in her room). In her young wisdom she suggested that Tori is awake and we should go tell her good morning. And it was. God had heard me. He sent me some sunshine and let me know it was all going to be ok.
Somewhere deep inside I know my heart will ache for this season; especially when the girls are gone and our home sits too quiet on most days. But right now, I'm about ready to start Ferber again to help Tori learn to put herself to sleep without wringing momma dry. And it will be ok. God is waiting to catch me when that rope unravels.