My mood is almost entirely determined by a 13 month old.
That was my realization today, and there’s something wrong with that. Absolutely, essentially wrong. She’s a baby. I’m a full-grown woman. And yet …
When she’s happy and laughing my world is right. I feel joy, no matter how exhausted I am, no matter how frustrated I was a minute before.
When she’s screaming or throwing her food or throwing herself (a new thing), I’m stressed. Tired. Usually a bit angry.
When she refuses to sleep and screams if I try to put her down, screams if I dare to leave the room, then screams when I return to pick her up (because she’s exhausted and wants/needs to be sleeping), I feel like a failure.
Every choice I make seems to be the wrong one. And there are no right answers.
That’s hard for me. Really hard.
A psych professor once told me I have a Messiah complex. I want to make the world beautiful – save it. And when I can’t, I carry all that sadness and pain on my shoulders.
I’m not sure if that’s true of the world, but when it comes to my daughter, I want to make her world as ‘right’ as possible.
I love her. I want what’s best for her.
But what’s best?
Is it to get the sleep she needs even if she’s left crying in her room to achieve that?
Is it to say ‘oh well,’ to naps and end up with a girl who’s cranky and frustrated for the last hours of the day?
Is it to hold her for each nap, safely comforted in my arms, for three to four hours a day, even if it means a messy house and a mom (aka me) who slowly grows larger and larger from the inactivity and lack of time to make healthy meals.
I did this for eight months by the way, and have 35 pounds of post pregnancy weight to prove it.
I also had growing resentment … multiplied by the fact that in addition to those 3-4 hours holding my girl for naps I was also spending 11-13 hours of the night in a dark room helping her sleep … <sigh> we’ll talk about that some other day.
The question is, were those choices the best? Probably not. Was I trying to do what’s best? Definitely.
But was I right?
There’s no way to know. Each and every moment, each and every choice, there’s no way to know, and so I carry the weight of all those uncertain choices across my shoulders akin to the way I imagine the Messiah carried the sins of the world across his.
Okay, Psych prof, your analysis holds some weight.
But I’m no Messiah, able to carry that burden with peace in my heart – at least not all of the time. On me, the weight digs in, making me snap, making me sad, making me treat my husband far less well than he deserves and, more often than I’m comfortable with, making me into a person I don’t want to be – grumpy, impatient, unfocused.
In front of my daughter.
We want the best for our children, but when there’s no way to be certain what that is we try everything we think may be best. We try too much.
We let the stress of it all wear on us, turning us into full-grown women whose emotions are as unstable and unpredictable as a 13 month old.
Or, at least I do.
I don’t want to anymore. I want to be solid. Strong. Loving even when I’m worn out and overworked and confused. I don’t want to be confused. I want to trust my gut and let the rest roll off my shoulders, leaving me light.
But I’m a full-grown woman.
And isn’t the first step realizing you have a problem?
Hello, my name is Charlene. I have a Messiah complex and, too often, my mood is almost entirely determined by a 13 month old.
But not for long.
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