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Wednesday, February 3, 2010


These last few days have been hard. The husband said they have been the hardest in a long time. Both of us are struggling.

The boy has decided to give up napping, despite my encouragement. He will fall asleep but wakes whenever you attempt to put him down. He has also decided that he would much rather spend the nights screaming than sleeping. Last night was the worst. Even though the husband and I took turns lying with him, he still preferred to yell. Nothing we did made any difference.

Maybe he is teething? His top two eyeteeth have come through and the bottom two are still waiting to break through. Maybe it is developmental? Maybe he hates his crib?

In my darker moments I am convinced the boy is trying to see exactly where my breaking point is. I imagine him calculating how far he can push me before I collapse on the floor in a fetal position. Yes, I know he is seventeen months old. That is just how my mind works.

I did cry this morning. Walking away from the museum I pushed the boy in his stroller and sobbed. We had left our friends sitting inside after I realized that the boy had no plans to end his bout of hysterical crying. I bundled him back into his snowsuit and left, apologising to our friends and the museum staff for the ear shattering sounds they had been subjected to. My bra still undone from when I had tried nursing him.

More than anything else I have been feeling angry these last few days. Angry that I don't know what is wrong with the boy. Angry that nothing I do seems to comfort him. Angry that I feel overwhelmed and helpless. Angry that I am angry.

I wrote the following on Monday. I wrote it for me. I wrote it to help myself work through what I was feeling and what had happened. I wrote it to remember.

In case some of you have been here or felt this, I am posting it for you.


I try not to yell at the kids. I don't like to raise my voice because then I feel like I lose credibility with the girl when I tell her not to yell. Today I did something that felt worse to me then yelling. I screamed.

I went to put the boy down for his nap at the regular time. I should have factored in the short ten minute nap he had in the stroller on the walk home from school because he resisted that nap with all he had. I should have just stopped and reassessed but I was too single minded. I should have....I should have.

At first I thought the napping routine was going great. We were snuggling and he was nursing. Then I heard a slam. I steeled myself for the sound of the girl heading down the hallway to our room. Since she has figured out how to turn the doorknobs she has started wandering the halls instead of quietly reading books in her room. I don't mind as long as she doesn't disrupt the boy by opening his door or yelling at me from outside his room, which is what she choose to do today.
I had some stern words for the girl through the door and back she went to her room. Slam went the door. Eventually she was quiet and I guessed that she was asleep. But not her brother.

I tried everything. I was frustrated. I put him in his crib and I left. He cried.

I went back. I tried again. He finally feel asleep and I lay him in the crib. As soon as his body hit the mattress he woke crying. Again, I left. I had to walk away.

I listened to him cry while I perched on my bed. I felt guilty. But at that moment, it was better for everyone for him to be crying by himself then for me to be with him. I was that angry with him. Angry enough that I didn't trust myself.

Eventually, I went back. I tried to get him to lie down in his crib but he kept standing up and reaching up to me. It was the tears that got to me. My anger abated for a moment and I picked him up. I sat down in the chair with him, prepared to rock him but not nurse him. Nursing was what he wanted.

No, I said over his cries.

I can't. Please, I can't.

I'm just too broken, I whispered.

No! I was holding him and he was crying and I felt done.

I can't, I screamed. Loud enough to startle him. Loud enough to startle me.

He quieted. His crying turned to sobs and sniffles. I rocked him until he feel asleep.

I sat with him for awhile before I gently lay him down. He woke up immediately. Crying just as hard as before.

I gave up. I felt so much anger with him for not sleeping when he was obviously tired. I was even angrier with myself for losing control. For behaving in a way I didn't think I ever would. It was just for a moment, but that moment held an intensity I have never felt before.

I picked up the boy and took him to the girl's room. I woke her up and we all headed downstairs to somehow fill the hours until the husband got home.

All I tried to do was not to yell.


  1. Don't be too hard on yourself mom's are only human. I think we expect ourselves to be superhuman and never lose it or do anything we regret. Of course we try not to because that's what being an mom is about but when we do come to our breaking point it's okay to walk away and when we make a mistake be gentle with yourself just as you do with your children.
    I don't know a mom who hasn't had one of those days. You are in good company and are also a great mom!

  2. We've all been there. Walking away is what had to happen. You did the right thing. Hugs as you get through this. Don't beat yourself up!!

  3. "It won't last forever." That's my mantra when I can't stand things any more. Hoping tomorrow's a better day for you!

  4. I remember days like that when the boy was that age. It was just so hard. I wish I could offer you some words of advice or something to magically make it all better. Hugs to you both... small children are hard, and you will get through this.

  5. Oh, I've absolutely been there. It's scary and upsetting to well it well up in you. I remember feeling so filled with rage sometimes that the kids would not sleep when they so obviously needed to. The trick is to recognize it in ourselves and do what we can to diffuse the situation. I usually ended up doing what you did. I walked away for a bit. I gave up trying to force the nap to happen for that day.

    When you're in the midst of times like this it feels like it'll stretch on forever, but it won't. You'll get through this okay...

  6. I have, on more than one occasion, yelled at my child to, "Just GO TO SLEEP! NOW!!!" Unsurprisingly, this is not an effective way to get a child to go to sleep.

    We've all been there, we've all done stuff that was less than great. Luckily, kids are resilient.

  7. you are brave to admit it, and even braver to post it. Thank you. Makes me feel okay about rocking on my bed chanting this is all to hard and then snapping at my children to just bloody LEAVE ME ALONE I have had ENOUGH you don't stop SCREAMING, or saying something is wrong or you are ill ENOUGH...there is no break as a parent - not really, and it is the most exhausting and emotionally draining job in the world. Thank you for good blog, so sorry for the sleeplessness - my first like this ALL the time and still is *sigh*
    *many hugs* coming your way

  8. I haven't been reading your blog for very long, so I'm not sure if you've already tried this - but have you tried working with a dietician to see if any foods are affecting Boy?
    I've heard so many stories of people who do a proper (supervised) elimination diet and their kids have major turnarounds.
    It must be worth trying if all else has failed?

  9. I haven't commented before I don't think, but I do enjoy reading your blog. Have you considered an ear infection? It can make it pretty hard to fall asleep/stay asleep. If he's having trouble nursing too I'd be suspicious of an ear problem.
    Otherwise, I know it is really hard. My next door neighbor had a tree cut down during my daughter's nap time yesterday. I could not get her to sleep no matter what. She was fried by the time bedtime rolled around. And I was very angry and frustrated too. I always try to step back and see the situation through her eyes though. I mean, she's not doing it on purpose. She wanted to sleep, and needed me to help her and it isn't really fair to her for me to get angry with her for that. I'm not saying I remember to think that way everytime, but it does help if I can try to bring myself to see things from her perspective.

  10. I remember when I was pregnant with K every thing I read and the prenatal classes I took all said "when you get to your breaking point just walk away and take a breather - they'll be fine crying in their crib while you regroup" and what I thought was really interesting was that nobody said "if you get to your breaking point", they all said "when".
    We've all been at the point where we feel we've been pushed too far and it sounds like you dealt with it as best you can and you should be proud of that. It's a hard time and sleeping is one of the hardest issues of all. I hope the boy turns the corner soon.

  11. man, i have been there many times and will be there again for sure. i think we put too much pressure on ourselves. we aren't perfect. we can't handle everything. we don't have access to the infinite pool of patience. so we cry, we slam the occasional door, we yell every onc in a while to release everything that is pent up. it's ok. you walked away when you needed. it's ok. you aren't perfect. it's ok.

  12. ok first HUGS!!!!
    The not sleeping is the worst ... oh I was there this very afternoon. You being honest and raw about it is amazing. So many moms look at the honesty as weakness. I think it makes us stronger.

    Hang in there. as others have commented it doesn't last forever. I keep trying to remind myself that when I am really really frustrated.

    Oh. We had to let our son sleep on the floor at the doorway of his room for months. That was the only place he would sleep. If we tried to put him in bed he would scream.

  13. Thanks everyone. Today has been much better. The boy actually napped (so did the girl). And he also slept ten hours last night. I don't know how or why that happened but it sure helped the spirit!

  14. Sending you hugs. We have all been there, more times than any of us would like. It's hard, but you are doing a great job.

    Sending you hugs

  15. I so love your honesty. I remember moments like this... and today isn't so different. After getting up early to write and make breakfast, running errands with the boy, feeding him, drawing with him, and then running around the block, the back yard, pushing him in the swing, spinning, spinning on and on and still hours away from parental relief I popped in Cars so I could get a break. Just a freakin' break from the pawing and the crying - it's all so intense! Kids have no middle ground. They're feelings are so concentrated, full throttle. If they're tired, they are TIRED. Cranky? CRANKY! Parents should just dedicate a small space in their closets to curl up into on days like the one you're describing.