Some days, like today, I am able to tell within the first ten minutes of being awake that it's going to be a doozy. I swear, some days Levi wakes up determined to kick/push/sit on/ snatch toys away from and generally be mean to Nora. It is interspersed with sweet acts of kindness and even some genuine repentance but his impulse control is out of whack and he just can't seem to help himself.
On days such as this I hear that booming voice in my head confirming what an awful parent I am that I have no control over my toddler and honestly, in some ways I feel like that voice is right. I feel at a loss some times about how to parent, how to discipline, which method to follow and struggling to be consistent while I am trying to figure out what works is exhausting. Not to mention in the moment, I am comforting a sad baby girl and in the few minutes that often takes, Levi has forgotten the whole incident and is asking for a snack. I would relish the luxury to have a couple of hours with Jeremy and some parenting books or better some parents we trust to bounce ideas around, but in the moment I feel very alone and like I am failing miserably.
Add to the chaos a baby girl who is offended by the very idea of sleeping anywhere but in your arms and it only adds to the dooziness!! I am not against rocking babies to sleep, I did it for the first year and a half with Levi and it was a sweet bonding time so I am truly not against it if it worked but she doesn't transfer the way he used to after succumbing to sleep and so she pops right back up out of what seemed to be a dead sleep only now the edge is off her tiredness and she's far from wanting to go back. Today after a long while of trying to settle her, which included a poopy diaper change to only add to the problem, I decided enough was enough. Levi was sleeping and I had things I wanted to accomplish so I set her gently in the pack and play; clean diaper, full tummy, pacifier in mouth. She didn't appreciate my effort. She stood and yelled and screamed like I was pinching her. I went back every few minutes to remind her I loved her, that she could do this, and to lay her down but it didn't matter. She was not going to sleep. She was determined to stand and scream until she was rescued. After some time of this, she woke Levi, who was in the other room with a closed door and a noise maker on, and he was sobbing "Mummy, can you help her please?" Poor kid. Poor baby. Poor me!
I got her up and she lasted another few hours before I tried to rock her again at which time she feel right to sleep and stayed that way when I put her in her crib. It was a short 30 minute nap, which I am sure she was not ready to wake up from but shes not learned to re-settle herself so she was up. Not terrible because it was almost time for dinner but still. I thought naps were supposed to leave you feeling refreshed?!
The weight of her not sleeping and the reality that our own space might be necessary for any real progress to be made is heavy on me. I want to be helping her but today I wasn't helping anyone. She is just the loudest baby I have ever met so we might have to put her in the garden if we anticipate more such antics and don't want her to wake Levi up! Just kidding - of course I would never put her in the garden but you get the idea. Even in our space, we have a situation that will need thought and attention and I feel empty of any time or energy to do any thinking about any sort of strategy!
This morning, Levi, Nora and I went to the library and to visit some reindeer that have moved in down the road for the holiday season. It was such a sweet time. A break from the crazy and the heavy. Time alone with the kiddos to just be and play and watch them experience the world. It was amazing. And its moments like that that can make the rest of it manageable. It encourages me that I can have happy times with the children and that we can laugh together. I know these early years with little ones can feel like the trenches some days and I certainly understand that but I am eager on days such as today to seek out the joy. Albeit fleeting sometimes. To hold on to the hope of changing negative behaviours when it seems all I do is correct over and over to no avail. I'm eager to be present today in all the challenges. I refuse to be overwhelmed, I know the enemy would love that. It's hard work but it's the best job ever, and it's possible when and only when I am not in it alone. Jeremy is by my side, but God is carrying us both. Our family is in his hands. In Him we can overcome and with His love, patience and grace it is possible that we can shape the little ones he has entrusted to us into people that reflect him to the world. Please Jesus! What a reminder this advent season as I find myself whispering so many times a day, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
I'm tired. I am worn out and sleep deprived. But I am choosing to find joy and hold on tight to it!!