hugs to everyone.
I've been up to my old behavior :( dh is out of town, I've been averaging 2 hrs of sleep a night, no breaks whatsoever. Even when he is home, I'm still alone 12 hrs a day, and the baby has been up most of every night for the past month. I've slept a full night once in a month.
So last night after our customary 2 hours of sleep, I rocked, paced, nursed, did everything to comfort her and put her back to sleep. I was so patient, had convinced myself to just be calm, deal with whatever comes, etc. Then she started biting while nursing, and proceeded to bite and whip her head around with the nipple still attached for 5 straight hours and was up for the day cheerfully before dawn. If I tried to stop her from nursing or biting she screamed and screamed and screamed so I had no choice but to lay there all night having my nipples torn to shreds. So horrible me, I screamed at a little baby to stop screaming. I totally suck. but what do I do in that situation when I can't go on any longer, mentally or physically, but I have no choice but to keep going??? And, to top it all off, she is incredibly high needs during the day, too, and only naps maybe 20 mins a day and that's on me while nursing, she is rarely put down and requires constant attention. (and she is over a year old, we are not talking a newborn baby, which is completely a different story!)
I also realized that a HUGE trigger, is when the kids ignore me when it's time to get ready and leave the house. Looking back, a lot of my rage incidents stem from this scenario. I do everything I can to explain the plan ahead of time, give them lenty of time to finish their activity so Im not just asking them to stop what they're doing immediately, have their clothes and toothbrushes, etc easy to get to. So today I announce that we have x number of minutes until we leave and I proceed to get myself and the baby ready. DS continues to play. I make announcements along the way, ie "10 more minutes! I'm getting my coat on and loading up the car. Please get yours and follow me". He slowly starts getting dressed. I'm finished and say "time to go, grab your coat, etc and head out the door now." He then argues and whines over putting on his coat, wants his scarf re-done 10 times, and I'm like, nope, grab your stuff and bring it to the car. I would have helped you earlier but now it's time to go. He continues to fuss over the scarf and at this point it's been an HOUR since i've asked him to get dressed and I've been standing around waiting. I totally flip out, throw things, slam things, scream at him, and generally make him feel guilty and awful and now I feel like crap.
So what do I do when I start out patient, kind, calm, encouraging and I try every tactic in the book for HOURS and nothing works, I'm at my wit's end and have no help in sight, and am in an impossible situation and it seems like it's inevitable that I'm going to blow up out of sheer helplessness and fatigue? Sometimes not leaving the house isn't an option. Sometimes I physically am not able to pace the floors and be bitten night after night. I hate for my kids to see that and learn that's how we deal with our frustrations :(
Do you have any way at all of getting some help taking care of the kids, or help getting some sleep? I think that any mom who is as sleep-deprived as you are is bound to lose her temper from time to time. You need sleep. You need a break now and then. We moms weren't meant to take on the entirety of child-rearing alone. I know it can be hard to find help. Sometimes when mine were little and I was completely exhausted, I would shut us all into my bedroom (which was heavily baby-proofed) so that I could doze off. Even a few minutes could help.
It's so hard when you feel as though you're trying absolutely everything and giving it your all, and still you're up all night or there's conflict after conflict. I think at those times you seek out support and help wherever you can, you take care of yourself as best you can, and you get through it as best you can knowing that you cannot be perfect. You'll all get through this. And you know, there are times when it's better to put the baby down and walk away for a minute, even if she's screaming, so that you don't lose it and scream back at her. It's okay. Kids are resilient, they can handle it when mom needs to take a minute. The middle of the night was such a hard time for me when mine were small, and there were nights when one of mine was up all night and I just lost it. It was just hard to remain calm and rational when I was up all night again after being sleep deprived for weeks or months. Sometimes I would remember to walk away and take a minute, which was way better than losing it and screaming (which really just made it that much harder for everyone to get sleep). I wish I had advice for you on getting her to sleep, but I don't. Mine were that age so long ago, and my high-needs kiddo just started sleeping well and through the entire night without waking us all with her night-terrors maybe two years ago (she's 11). But I can say that really, someday this will all be a blur for you.
As far as getting kids out of the house goes, I always found that when mine were little they needed a lot of supervision and prompting in order to get ready and out the door. There were times when we had to leave in order to get somewhere on time and I grabbed shoes and coat, and carried my sock-footed coatless child to the car. Routine helps, having a rhythm to the day such that we did roughly the same things in roughly the same order most days. I remember when that when they were little I always tried to run errands or make appointments in the morning, because it was just easier to get them out the door soon after breakfast. Mornings were their best time for going out--they were fed, not tired, and not yet engrossed in an activity. We'd get up, get dressed, eat, brush teeth, and go, basically. Morning was the best time for appointments, shopping, going to the park, you name it. If it we were going to leave home, morning was the best time to do it. Even now it's easier to get the ball rolling early in the day than it is to try to get them out the door later on.
You're working under extreme circumstances, and you can't be perfect. Kids are strong and resilient. I want you to hear this story: for years I struggled and struggled with anger, especially with regard to my oldest dd's very challenging behavior. I still yell more often than I'd like (once in awhile, way less than I used to but still). Most days I think my kids deserve better, and that they'll resent me. Recently though, my oldest (who has always received the brunt of my anger) has just stunned me with her trust in me. She's confided in me about her first crush despite being embarrassed, and asked lots of questions about that and about growing up. I was so...honored that she could and did trust me like that. I could never talk to my own mom about those things. She confides in me about troubles with her friends. We laugh a lot together. Recently, at school the kids had to write an essay on the topic of "If you had to dedicate a book to someone, who would you dedicate it to and why." Do you know, she picked me? And she wrote the sweetest essay about how I'm the best person to ask questions of, and how she can come to me when she has questions about growing up and I'll give her advice, and how I always like her writing and encourage her. Her teacher tells me that she talks about me a lot at school, in a positive way. She survived my parenting, and is even thriving (not all because of me, she's an amazing kid). We fight. We make up. We're real with each other. I'm far from perfect. And yet, our relationship is okay. She trusts me. We're okay, and I think we'll stay that way. My other two kids are okay too, and our relationship is okay. You don't have to be perfect, or even close to perfect, to be a good mom.
You and your kids will be okay too. You care. You try. You strive to do your best for them. That makes you a good mom.
Edited by Magella - 12/18/10 at 4:07pm