Happy Valentine's day, everyone!
This is not a valentine's post - hopefully I'll have more time (raf currently asleep on me) later today, and also more positive energy to post one later.
Returning to work has been a real challenge - easier in some ways than I anticipated, but much harder in other respects. I didn't expect to be the kind of mother that I am turning out to be, so I couldn't have really prepared for the issues that might emerge.
Before Raf arrived I had loose parenting ideals. I felt strongly in wanting to cultivate as strong an attachment with Raf as possible, but that was about the extent of it. I read a lot, integrated a lot of that stuff into what I imagined I might be able to do, but the lived experience of having a child sort of makes a lot of that redundant.
One ideal that has remained, however, if the notion of gentle parenting. I often use this as a measure of sorts when deciding on a course of action. Last week Raf was really quite ill, and because he was so sad and clingy it felt like the kindest course of action was to keep Raf home a couple of days (frankly this seemed kindest to Jen and the two other babies). But it meant that I am now hopelessly behind, extremely sleep deprived, and so forth - especially as this concept of gentle parenting means that we try not to let Raf cry unnecessarily, that we attend to his needs asap, and so on. Raf's and our needs are inevitably not always in sync, and in that gap emerges a whole lot of stress.
I don't want to be a martyr to parenting and I don't want to dissolve into a resentful parent - so managing all of this is very difficult sometimes. This is always brought into sharp relief when I am without much sleep, and this week I have not had more than 4 hours of (very, very) broken sleep. Last night I did manage to catch up a little, though. And I am always good about making sure I get some exercise every week - and this, most likely, saves me from a full catastrophe.
With a full time job that is not without stress, a husband with a full time very stressful job who is also enrolled in graduate school, the stress is piling on. Rich is out one evening a week, and every other Saturday he is gone al day.
There doesnt seem to be enough hours in the day. And the truth is that gentle parenting right now means a lot of Raf and mama time. I have been going to bed with Raf very early as Rich's old strategies for getting Raf down havent been working lately (I'm actively encouraging him to find new ways!). This is very stressful since I usually catch up on work at this time... Thus lots of challenges. The truth about parenting (if you're breastfeeding, doing attachment type parenting) - especially in these early days - is that it is about 90% mama-parenting. Obviously each situation is different, but this is how it is for us right now. And of course the way we structure work makes this all but impossible to do with one's full faculties in tact.
Gah. What a downbeat post. I know I am making choices and I could make different ones - such as getting more childcare for Raf - letting him cry, etc - but that doesn't feel right for Raf, for us, so it's difficult to moan about to other people as they inevitably - and understandably - might want to suggest other choices. But this is just a simple sleep-deprived vent.
Will be back later - hopefully - for a nice Valentine's update... if I can salvage the day.