I feel sharp on my face, then slap. My eyes are heavy, so I keep them closed a moment longer in hopes of getting more sleep; no such luck. Once again on my face “slap”, then I hear “mmmumuma”. That can’t mean me already, can it? I blink my eyes open, its as if someone glued them shut last night they’re so heavy. I feel sad for a moment. I just want to sleep. My inner voice pushes to the front of my thoughts “Bad mom. Don’t be so selfish”. I open my eyes fully, its still dark out. What time is it? Early I suppose. I look down to the two big, brown eyes staring up at me. He gives a blink, then a cheeky smile, showing his toothless gums and sticking out his tongue. I smile back, and feel content again. “Mmmmumuma” he says again and smiles at me once more. “Hi baby. Good morning. You slept so well, didn’t you?” He pauses, then smiles again. I can see a little light coming in from the blinds but not much. I want more sleep, but his smile gives me the feeling I once got on Christmas morning. “Look at this incredible gift I have” I think to myself.
I pull up my shirt, he’s learned to latch himself on at this point. I close my eyes but there’s no going back to sleep by now. When he is done, I scoop him up so his legs are on my lap. He bounces, so happy, my boy. I check my phone to see “Carlos Robles: You two looked so cute this morning. I love you guys.” It makes me smile. I take him to his room, change him and put something cute on him, knowing it will be dirty soon. We come down stairs where his play gym sits. I place him under it and his feet kick with excitement. The music starts and he begins to play, hitting his toys and cooing.
I hurriedly walk to the kitchen in hopes of making my breakfast before he begins to fuss. If I’m lucky I’ll get to eat it too! He plays through my cooking, and through my eating. When he finally lets me know he’s done playing, I pick him up. “Thank you my love! Mama had such a great breakfast. Thank you.” His eyes are red and heavy. “Time for a nap?” I ask. He smiles. “He’s such a great baby” people tell me. What does a bad baby look like, I wonder. Anyway, to me he is the best baby. I hold him close to me, kiss his head, begin rocking back and forth, back and forth.”Go to sleep love” I say calmly. “Shhhh” I whisper. He replies with a whine, it gets louder, then more staccato. Oh boy. This continues for a few minutes. Then he begins to cry but not just any cry, he’s angry I’m putting him to sleep, he doesn’t like going to sleep because he doesn’t know how to fall asleep yet. Now he’s arching his back; “that’s okay” I think to myself, “I understand”. I get up and walk with him. There are calm moments but most of this interaction, me trying to help him to sleep, makes him angry and he fusses. After about 10 minutes, I feel his body get heavy and his arms flop down. I smile at my success, at his relaxation. “Thank God!”. I keep him in my arms for this nap because I know these moments are fleeting, and I take out my book to read. The morning is early, I am happy, my patience in infinite.
I look at the forecast: rain. I need to leave the house soon if I want to make it out of the woods where I go for walks dry. Whats that saying? “Let sleeping babies lie.” Words to live by. Time passes and it becomes 11 am. Soon after he begins to wake up but this time he’s grumpy. He begins to fuss before his eyes even open, he must be hungry. I feed him and enjoy the happy hormones surging through my body. I love our bond. I kiss his little hand which reaches up for my cheek. When he pulls off, he’s not as pleasant as I’d hoped. I nestle into his neck to tickle him and he laughs, but when I stop he whines. He’s so silly! I change his diaper, he enjoys being naked but hates getting his clothes on. I take him to our room so I can change and when I put him down he cries. “Just a moment Odin, mommy’s right here, don’t worry” I say, as though he understands. I can’t find anything I need right now and his cry starts to elevate. All moms know the feeling of urgency that starts when your baby begins to cry. I rustle through my drawer, find what I’m looking for and start to change. Now he’s really mad. “Such a bad mom” my inner voice declares to me, and I agree. I stop getting changed and pick him up, he smiles with tears still in his eyes. “Dramatic, just like your mama” I laugh. He smiles again, but I’m still only half dressed. I place him on the bed again to start over what we just went through. I finish quickly and throw my hair in a bun. “Ready for our walk?” I ask Odin. I’m excited, I always look forward to leaving the house!
We walk down stairs and I begin to put my socks on, baby in my lap. He’s really quiet. I look down and see him asleep. I laugh at this, but think it best to wait on the walk, we still have time, I’ll just enjoy this moment. Then, I begin to hear thunder. As I look outside, I see the first few drops of rain. I feel sad, then relieved, because truthfully I didn’t want to go for a walk. I’m tired. My head hurts. My eyes are heavy. And baby cuddles are too sweet to miss out on. “I’ll just do a workout later” I think to myself. But I know I probably won’t.
When he wakes, I move us downstairs so I can workout. I don’t feel like it, and truth is I haven’t felt like it in 2 weeks. I’ve been in a rut, just wanting to relax when I can. I put him on his play mat and open my yoga video. I try to focus, breathing slowly for each move when- WAHHH.”I’m right here!” I say to him, as if he understands my words. The crying continues and I pause my video. I tried a few times after this to please him and exercise but he wouldn’t settle being away from me. Frustrated, I turn off the video. “Nevermind,” I say, “tomorrow will be better.”
He plays in his bouncer but must see me at all times. I try to slip away to do dishes, once more he beckons and I comply. This time when I pick him up, with his heavy, sweet eyes, he is tired and fussy. “Time for a nap again?” He smiles, he’s always smiling. I begin to rock him to help him to sleep. He is how he has been lately, fussy and frustrated with his inability to easily fall asleep. Arching his back and pinching the skin on my back and my arm, I realize that my patience has decreased by now; its been chipped away at slowly, one tantrum after another. Today is a rare day, on of those days. I feel the anxiety rising in my chest, my heart beating faster, the tears building up behind my eyelids. “Its okay, its okay, shhhh” I say to my baby, half panicked. Its not his fault and I don’t feel upset with him. Why can’t I soothe him today? It used to be so easy. Am I a bad mom?
My heart breaks as he becomes more, and more upset. These are the moments I doubt myself: I don’t deserve to be a mom, I have no idea what I’m doing, I DEFINITELY should NOT have more children (unlikely). Am I the only one who goes through this? When Carlos calls me after work, I can’t help but break down when I hear his voice. “I’ve done nothing today. The kitchen is a mess. His cloth diapers are dirty. I haven’t worked out, even though I ‘tried’ for hours. I failed” I tell him.
When he arrives at home, he takes Odin from me and my arms are free for pretty much the first time that day. The relief I feel also makes me feel guilty. I’m lucky I was able to have a baby, a healthy, perfect baby who spends most days laughing and smiling. And this moment, I don’t want him in my arms just because he’s. How could I think like that?
I sit on this thought while I cook dinner. But when I lay down in bed to nurse him before we sleep, and he looks up at me with his tired eyes, pulls him feet up so they rest on mine, and brings he hand up to touch my face, I feel overwhelmed with love and thankfulness. Every night I close my eyes while I have my baby in my arms and the world is still and I pray over my baby. I thank God for my blessings, the one in my arms and the one cuddled up behind me, and mean it with my whole heart.
I am thankful to me a mother. Despite the challenges I face, waking up throughout the night, being pinched and scratched, soothing an inconsolable baby, having my already sore nipples bitten by hard gums; I am thankful. I never knew such love was possible.