Sunday, February 14, 2010


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.


  1. oh sweetie - you have to do what feels right to you... and that isn't always the "easiest" choice. eg, i do use childcare with L but i have her in for two short days instead of five long ones... even though this does make my life that much more of a juggling act, i do it because it feels right to me - the right balance for L and me and the rest of our family. you are right - things will gradually change with rafi and about by the time he is six he will probably only want to hang with dad! but i know how demanding it can be on mum in the meantime (all my kids are mummy's kids... although my oldest boy suddenly became a daddy's boy when he turned six....)



  2. Oh Alex, it's so tough sometimes isn't it? And the reality of mother(parent)hood is so different to the ideals you set yourself beforehand. I have managed to get closer to that 'ideal' with Rafe, but I suspect this is only because I managed my expectations better after the reality of Gabriel!

    I'm with you on the not letting them cry thing, I consider myself to be a fairly tough mummy when needs be, but that achieves nothing IMO, it's just ignoring the problem. Although I'm probably lucky in that I've either fixed it or they got bored of crying before I ran out of options! If they're ill, there's not much you CAN do other than administer the treatment where necessary and give lots of cuddles until it's over. Unfortunately this means that your world stops dead for a while which is so frustrating - add in sleep deprivation and it's the recipe for a mummy-meltdown! I had a short period a few weeks ago when I was just so so fed up of everything, it felt like all I had done for days was feed and wipe small people over and over and over again. Christian is working non-stop - 8am-6pm out the house, then 7-10pm at home (and all weekend at home), so all the domestic stuff falls to me and it got more than a bit tedious. Still, had a small meltdown, got it out my system (thankfully the high chair survived being thrown across the kitchen) and felt better for it. We have quite a full week of daytime activities with friends and other babies so at least we get a change of scene most days, and I can have a mutual moan with other fed-up mummies!

    It will get so much better once Rafi is a bit older. He will be less dependent on you and will be able to communicate his needs better for a start. You'll all adjust to the new regime with time. Some corners will be cut but you have to do whatever it takes to get you all through the day!

    I hope things are better, and that you manage to get some sleep soon.

    Take care,

    Alice and the boys xx

  3. oh, honey, I'm sorry it's so hard. I'm glad you can come here and vent. I think you know what you're doing and what matches for you right now and it doesn't mean that you can't vent about it or feel fucking tired and worn out and like you just wanna scream. You can know you're doing what you need to do, be making choices that have these consequences sometimes, and still have permission to complain. Not that this sounds like complaining, it just sounds like "wow, this is fucking hard!!". And, I can't imagine.

    So keep venting and keep believing in yourself

    love you x

  4. Ugh. You are supposed to be saying how great it is being back to work and how well rested you feel. :-) Yes, we moms do it all. My hubbs has not put Carson down for bed once in 4 months...but frankly, I LOVE that time with him. My mother-in-law of all people told me that we (moms) do almost all of the parenting in the beginning. And she was right! Good luck with your sleeping, it will be get better at some point...the tough part is you don't know when that time is. I always have the hardest time with the uncertainty. Hang in there!

  5. Sending you hugs, Alex, and lots of sympathy! I'm so sorry you're having such a hard time lately. I completely understand and will echo others to say that I admire you for following your instinct here. You are so right about that. And you know this, but it *will* pass. Isn't it amazing how someone so small and powerless can completely take over your life *because* he is small and powerless? He rules the roost right now and that's what he needs. You are doing so much good for him.

    xoxoxo Hope you get some more sleep soon!


  6. Thanks, you guys. What a week it's been too. I didn't realize how many hours I work outside of 'work' before now. And because time feels so precious I just really begrudge the weekends and evenings. This weekend I have been working almost solidly, and I will be working every evening this week, too, to just get up caught with marking papers. Oh well.. and I am certainly not the only one doing this.

    Thanks for all your support, ladies. It means a lot for you to understand and to extend some empathy. The biggest surprise in my parenting has been that I am so more into the attachment stuff than I imagined I would be. I imagined that I would want more independence, and that I wouldn't have a problem, say, taking Raf to the gym and leaving him with the childcare there!!!!