Thanks Staind.…

Thanks Staind.  Now I can’t say “It’s been awhile…” without thinking of that early 00’s song of same name.  But yea, it’s been awhile.  It’s been amazing and eye opening too.  I got through my second holiday season as a single mom with visitation schedules and boyfriends/girlfriends and drop-offs and pick-ups and discussion on gifts and keeping her sleep schedule, etc.  We got through! 

Though, there were some bumps.  This wasn’t “my year” to have her on Xmas eve and Xmas morning.  I suddenly found myself sobbing on Xmas eve as I sat by my tree wrapping a few remaining gifts.  I teared up when I sat at my boyfriend’s house watching his nieces and nephews open gifts while my little girl was at her dad’s. 

Honestly, I was glad to know I still feel something because I admit, 2 ½ has been kicking my ass.  She’s beautiful, hilarious and wicked smart and also firey, strong-willed and argumentative just like I was.  My grandmother said I should be a lawyer because I argued about EVERYTHING.  Now I get it.  SORRY GRAMS!!!

It’s not her fault it’s kicking my ass, by any means.  But I find myself having to daily remind myself there is a balance I need to find.

It’s amazing how your life can give you that balance if you sit up in bed at 2:00 a.m. and yell out “I GIVE UP!” as you are sobbing while your kid is flipping out next to you.

We recently spent about 3 weeks solid of her having night terrors at only my house, 5 nights a week like clockwork.  It was maddening that at her dad’s she was fine but at my house she’d wake up between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.-ish screaming, kicking me, hitting me and yet when I’d try to comfort her she’d flip out.  If I left the room she clawed at me in a panic.  It took anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours every night to calm her down.  I never knew when it would happen so I’d stay on pins and needles every night, barely sleeping.  It reminded me of when she was a newborn.  That newborn mother sleep that wakes you at the slightest little sneeze or purr.

Let’s just say I wasn’t at my best.  At one point I was ready to call either a priest or a psychiatrist.  I finally consulted Google and mothers on Facebook.  Who knew.

What I found out?  My kid needs structure along with her freedom.  It’s my responsibility to provide both.  Thank you night terrors for teaching me that.  Apparently night terrors can be triggered by sleep deprivation.  A quick rally conversation and plan between her dad, babysitter and myself and after 1 day, she’s sleeping in her own bed all night, no problems for the past 8 days. 
Let’s just go ahead and see that in all caps again: ALL I NEEDED TO DO WAS PUT HER TO BED AT A REASONABLE HOUR AND MAKE SURE SHE WELL RESTED DAILY.

Why is she sleep deprived?  Because I let her lead too much of her own life.  My loosey-goosey mothering might not be the best idea for this particular child.  Some of it is still my guilt over breaking up her family and having her go between 2 houses, etc. Now I know it physically isn’t helping her by letting her get away with going to bed when she wants, eating whatever and not instituting some sort of time-out for punishments.  She needs structure and she needs me to be the rule-maker. 

I hate making rules for her because I feel like in the 2 hours I see her a day now that she goes to bed early, I spend it just disciplining her.  I want her to paint her entire body and run around naked dancing to “princess music” if she feels like it.  I want her to mess up her room and just create chaos for an afternoon.  I mostly want her to tell me what to do because most days I don’t have a fucking clue.

So now, in order to not sob at 2:00 a.m. (me AND her) she can still paint naked and make a mess and call me a “meatball sandwich” because it makes us both laugh.  But she can also go to bed at 8:00 p.m. on the dot in her bed, she can sit in her “time-out” spot when she hits, she can also have healthy food and less snacks in between meals and eat at the table every single day.  Now I see they go together, not either/or.

I also learned it’s really difficult to not feel guilty about dating and being a mother.  I’d feel it when I would count the days until my Friday off because I can’t wait to wake up naked with my boyfriend, a little before sunrise the next morning.  We lay in his comfortable, warm bed and be lazy while the sun comes through his blinds on a Saturday morning and I pretend as hard as I can I have nowhere I have to be.  I push that experience up through breakfast until the last possible minute before I have to run into town and pick her up.  I usually then have a great day with her where she’s just hilarious and I think I should just STFU.  However by about Tuesday, the countdown starts again to my Saturday morning in bed.

After a particularly long day, I’ll put her to bed but she still stirs for about an hour.  As I’m back at her bedside rocking her for the third time, I see him sitting peacefully on the couch watching our shows and I just want her to go to sleep, please.  PLEASE.  So momma can sit down for the first time today and lower my IQ with TV.  Then she puts her little hand on my cheek and says “Just hold my hand, mama.”

I know, I know.  These times are short, but the days are endless.

My boyfriend is absolutely wonderful, thank god.  He sat up with me during a night terror and helped calm us both down.  He’s an active part in giving me ideas on how to be a stronger rule maker.  He also tells me he’s constantly amazed by how much I tell her I love her and let her be her.  He’s like the inner voice I need to tell myself!  He takes us on hikes, doesn’t lose his temper and now shows up by 7:30 so he doesn’t miss storytime with her almost every night.
I’m eternally blessed and I deserve it.

Looking back at 2011, there really seems to be a theme in my life.  I moan and bitch about wishing someone would just write a handbook on a normal life so I could follow it like Ikea instructions.  Then I go about writing my own without really trying.

My theme for 2012: Gratefulness.

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