A few mornings ago, Shaune, exhausted and at his wits’ end that both the kids refused to eat and were crying for me as I was heading upstairs to get ready for work, spit this out:
“You’re raising these kids to need you every ten minutes!”
It hurt me a little.
I got why he said it – it’s his job in the mornings to feed Deaglan and Naveen breakfast while I shower and get ready. Then once I’m together he can get off to work, leaving me to dress the kids, take them to their respective daytime places before heading to work myself. Dealing with resistance and tears throughout this delicate yet oh so hectic balancing act?
So. Flippin. Irritating.
But his words left me guilty and defensive. Guilty because the statement implied that I’d somehow manipulated my children into needing me all the time to fulfill some inner need to be needed. And defensive because Shaune in a moment of frustration with one badly chosen accusation had taken all the good mothering I thought I was doing and twisted it into something ugly and self-serving.
I tell you this not so you can shake your heads at my husband. I purposely left out the profanities I muttered under my breath in response to his little dig, but also, I am certain you all have similar moments in your marriages where crying, uncooperative kids has one or both of you searching for someone to blame, a direction to point your weary finger because not only are you tired and questioning your decision to embark on parenthood in the first place but the sound of howling kids is enough to make you want to cry or shatter your own eardrums to drown out the sound.
No, I tell you because his words gripped me by the throat, making manifest the trepidation that constantly lurks just beneath my surface, the fear that I indeed am doing something wrong in delaying my children’s independence. That it absolutely is my fault the four-year-old refuses to sleep in his own bed even after we moved his brother and a shiny new set of bunk beds in to keep him company. It is somehow atrocious and socially unacceptable that I continue nursing the almost two-year old, the same one who can actually ask for breast milk by name; a name he came up with all on his own because well – he can talk and you know the unwritten rule about breastfeeding a talking child don’t you?
Never mind my internal battle raging about being a full-time working mom of small kids; that it’s just plain wrong to be away from them at these ages for so long every day, and the opposing - we couldn’t afford to live on just one salary and also, I like having a career.
Every day the good and the bad of how I’ve conducted myself on this journey play out in my mind:
No wonder you don’t get enough sleep, you never set boundaries with them!
But they’re so small, how can I expect them to not need me? I work all day away from them, it’s the least I can do to comfort them when they cry.
You’ve never heard of crying it out? Formula??
On and on.
These are definitely Western-world (First world?) problems my friends. And I write about them not to complain (especially not to complain about Shaune who is mostly a saint as far as husbands go) or garner your sympathy, but to share my world for a few moments, to put it out there.
Life is tricky, don't you think?
I have had such a good run of breastfeeding and yet lately I dread the four AM call to task when our pint-sized Naveen, the monkey boy that he is, climbs out of the lower bunk, walks into our room to my side of the bed and asks ever so sweetly, “Mama? Milky-da-da?”.
I spring awake, move Deaglan to make room, sigh, look over at Shaune who is often helpful in the night if I ask but is likely snoring very loudly, and think,