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Hard Days

09/08/2014

Belle

For the past 14 months I have felt like while I was not bringing home any money, I was doing a rockstar job raising a kid. Sabine was such a fun baby and we had great times together at home and our with friends. She was a happy kid and in my eyes that meant I was doing a good job. I at least went to bed most nights feeling like I had kicked parenting in the ass.

Lately that is changing. Sabine is challenging. She is always under my feet and always fussing. I try to play with her and she crawls off and fusses. I read her books that she used to sit for and she crawls off and throws more books at me. She yells at me when I offer food, she yells at me when I try to put her down for a nap, she yells at me when I step into the bathroom. She gets angry at her toys and furious when she tries to walk and fails (she still is not walking.)

I know she is frustrated with not being able to do the things she sees her friends doing, like walking and talking. I know that part of this is the age we are at (14 months) and that it is not always a reflection on my parenting. But when Daddy comes home and she is an angel for him, sitting still and listening to books, playing nicely and giggling up a storm it makes me slink off to the bathroom and cry. Sabine is a delight for Daddy, the sitter, her friends and their moms but not for me. I see this and all I can think is that clearly she would be happier in daycare.

I hate feeling like a failure and I really hate the days that I am relieved to put my kid to bed. I try to talk to my husband about these feelings and he just blows them off and then coddles his cat (who is having some issues of her own adjusting to the baby – a post for a later date).

The guilt I am feeling over all of this, plus the returning to work stress, is eating me alive. Compounding the issue are the complex emotions that come with parenting after infertility – I fought so damn hard for this and waited so damn long and now what? Now I don’t like it? I am failing at it? Are you kidding me? It is one thing to go to personal training school and decide it is not the career for you. It is an entirely different thing to go through IVF, have a baby and then feel this way about parenting.

Sabine is finally napping after being up since 6 a.m. (it is 2 now) and I am going to take a few minutes for myself. I’ll have a cup of coffee, eat some chocolate coconut ice cream and wait for your pearly words of wisdom and encouragement. Dirty dishes and laundry can wait an hour…

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35 Comments

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  1. September 8, 2014

    I am nodding while reading this post. Most of the time I feel I am world class parent with world’s greatest child. Then – all of a sudden child from hell arrived and I’m thinking where did you come from and where did I go wrong???!!! But the truth is, they rebel against us because they feel safe with us. And they are angels elsewhere because we have taught them well and they are well adjusted.
    You ARE rocking this parenting thing. Even if you don’t enjoy it every minute of ever day.

  2. JB #
    September 8, 2014

    Oh man, it’s tough. It’s TOUGH and I’m sure it’s even harder being a SAHM. But I just read that babies/toddlers are always worse for their moms because they trust them more with their emotions. Maybe that sounds silly, but I totally get it. D is an angel at school, listens, doesn’t throw food on the ground, but for me, he’s always testing the limits. I read that they bottle themselves up but feel like they can “let loose” for their mommas. Like you said, it’s hard for them too, not being able to communicate. But you are not a bad mom, and being a mom isn’t a “job” that you have to prove yourself to keep, thank goodness. Just like she has to learn to walk and talk and live life, you are learning how to handle all those different stages, and that’s not bad, it’s life. So, I guess think of this as your learning how to communicate with her, just like she’s learning to communicate with you. I wrote this http://bickerstaffblog.blogspot.com/2014/06/worries-and-honesty.html when D was 16 months, going through the same thing. It’s a good day at my house when we don’t throw tantrums from 4pm until bedtime. I don’t think we have to like every single day. Hugs for you–everything always changes just when you think you can’t take anymore, just remember that.

  3. Melanie #
    September 8, 2014

    🙂 She feels safe enough with you to show her emotions, she is probably frustrated, yes, but you are the one person she can tell.
    I have read a lot these past few months with a new baby that cries, fuss, whine and doesn’t want to sleep and I saw that babies fuss more before a big change in their physical behaviour…hence walking. My sleep therapist also told me that the babies that tend to be a little faster in their brain then their physical milestones are usually more frustrated. All I have read and researched has said that they will show their frustration to the one they feel the safest to do it with. YOU! Argh, I know!
    Good job mamma!

  4. sangela71 #
    September 8, 2014

    You and I are in very different situations in some ways. . . and yet I can wholly relate to the feelings you expressed in your second-to-last paragraph of this post.

    I adore my sons, and I am so happy I have them. I think of them all day when I am at work, and I look forward to seeing them every evening when I get home.

    And yet, when I am with them, I often feel frustrated and that I am counting the minutes until their bedtime. And that makes me feel like a failure as a mother and a horrible person to boot.

    I think parenting toddlers is tough, no matter what one did to get to parenthood, and I agree the previous posters who pointed out that it’s a good thing that Sabine feels safe enough with you to show her frustration. Doesn’t make it easier to take, I know.

  5. robinsnc #
    September 8, 2014

    Toddlers! They are amazing and frustrating. You say she’s an angel for everyone but you, and that’s the way it is because she loves you and trusts you more than anyone else in this world. These little ones need to act out and push boundaries and be difficult as part of growing and learning. But they’ll only do it to people they trust–people they know will love them unconditionally–and that’s usually their main caregiver. And I have no idea how long that phase lasts.

    At 18 months my daughter would let my hairdresser buckle her in the car seat, but I couldn’t come near her. Now I can’t get my 2.5 yr old to even look at the potty, but if grandma asks it’s the best idea she’s ever heard of, and I have to take that as a compliment to me. Because if you look at it any other way, you will drive yourself bonkers!

  6. Britt #
    September 8, 2014

    Ditto what everyone else said, babies/toddlers are the worst for those they are closest to. Over last Christmas break, our boys (20mos at the time) were waking up crazy early so hubby and I got into the habit of playing with them till the grandparents were up then handing them off to go take a nap ourselves. Every day, after a couple hours nap, we’d enter the living room and literally the minute the boys set eyes on us, they’d burst into tears, starting hitting each other, throwing toys etc. Like they were possessed. Cue the grandparents saying with bewilderment “I don’t know what happened, they were being such perfect angels…” Sabine is acting out for you because she knows you are the one person in the world who will love her unconditionally, no matter what she does. Also, she might be having developmental leaps (learning to walk?) on the horizon and getting cranky about the changes she’s undergoing. All that said, yes, toddlers can be such little jerks and sometimes it’s just plain hard. Hang in there, Mama, you rock!

    • September 8, 2014

      You have no idea how important this comment is right now – Mother-In-Law coming to see us on Thursday and then Sabine and I fly off for a week with my parents at the end of the month! I need to know I’m not alone when similar things happen in front of grandparents! Thank you!!

      • Britt #
        September 8, 2014

        Just think of it as even more reason to hand Sabine off to the grandparents and go for a walk or coffee by yourself. She’ll probably behave better than if you’re around, and Grandma gets the baby all to herself… it’s a win-win!

  7. Amy #
    September 8, 2014

    It’s a full moon. They all go crazy. Try to not be hard on yourself. Go eat some more chocolate & read some of the blog by Mommastery-she always helps. & please remember children are crazy. All of them.

    • September 8, 2014

      Amy, you are right. Mommastery does always help. As does chocolate. And maybe some yoga while she finishes this nap…

  8. Becky #
    September 8, 2014

    Hang in there! They go through those stages and seem to take it out on Mom. Does she have her molars? I forget when that happens but I remember my daughter was so angry when hers came in. Now at 4 she is my best friend most days and other days she is Daddy’s girl and wants nothing to do with me. Kids!

    • September 8, 2014

      Lol! Becky, Sabine still has ZERO teeth. She has so few teeth that I don’t even think that some of her wild mood swings could be caused by teeth because she has never gotten a tooth! But you are right. There could be five million teeth trying to erupt in her tiny mouth right now. I’ll keep this in mind when she throws all her dinner on the floor again tonight 🙂

  9. September 8, 2014

    I think this is all normal. Until Bryson could walk, he was JUST like you describe. Now, he’s a complete joy for everyone, including me. I live for his laughs, attention, and kisses and I was cringing every time he’d grab my legs. I still get frustrated when I’m trying to cook with him under my feet, but it’s not like it was. I was losing my mind.

    This is a hard age – when there is so much they want to do but physically can’t. I never experienced this with Matthew because he walked at 11 months, so I had no idea what the issue was. I was just frustrated, irritable, and I’ll say it – I was angry at times. But it works itself out.

    Dads always get the love because they’re gone all day. Moms are old hat and boring. Just like Brian gets annoyed with the people he works with all day, the boys and I get annoyed with each other.

    Hang in there.

  10. Mo #
    September 8, 2014

    There are days I feel like that too, and I work full time. You’re ok. You’re not alone.

    Hugs

  11. Karaleen #
    September 8, 2014

    Oh Belle….Don’t beat yourself up. Parenting is HARD!!!!! When I get 14k steps on my pedometer on a saturday just taking care of two kids, laundry, shopping, playing, cleaning and cooking…..I am exhausted and realize I am not really having a lot of fun. I am parenting after infertility too….for two!!!! I had one and then wanted another so badly (when our chances were NIL) that we adopted embryos. All I did for decades was fantisize about this and even though I love them to the core and would not trade them for anything….I don’t always love the job! And yes….you get all the crap….they feel safe and loved and know you are the constant so you get the tantrums and the whining and the sleep fighting and you feel unloved and unwanted……but don’t worry….you are mama and nothing can replace that. I work full time and often feel guilty about not being there with them 24/7, but then I know that I probably would be unhappy…and that is okay. I can take the normal stuff knowing I get to eat lunch by myself during the day and that they are learning many new things too. We all come together at the end of the day and on the weekends and it is not perfect…..but there is Joy! Both my kids go through mama fazes or daddy fazes…..you just roll with it and keep giving those snuggles and wiping the noses and redirecting from the no-no’s! It is hauntingly monontonous, but oh so fulfilling when you think about life without that little soul(s). I sometimes pine for even my single days before my husband (who I am madly in love with)….just because sometimes…..I just want to do what I want to do when I want to do it and not have to make a whole bunch of arrangements just to get a freaking pedicure! Welcome….parenting after infertility is oh so very similar to just parenting. The journey doesn’t make the job easier….you just beat yourself up over it more because you feel obligated to be all sunsine and rainbows with your little miracle life (lives) at your feet.

    Hang in there….you are doing fine.
    kd

  12. September 8, 2014

    Oh, man. It’s been a rough day at my house, too. And the whole emotional mess that comes with those two words–after infertility–I totally get where you’re coming from. But then her aba comes home and she’s all smiles. It’s really hard. Hugs.

  13. Romy #
    September 8, 2014

    You’re not failing! This age is hard. My son is 15 months and even though he walks and runs everywhere, he still gets frustrated because he can’t express himself well enough. There are so many temper tantrums every day. I was shocked when they started because I only ever heard people talk about the terrible twos. He started having them around 12 months. He throws things at me, hits me in my face and kicks (and I’m pregnant with twins after IVF #2 so I’m paranoid about that). Other times he’s very clingy and he does show that he loves me. Sometimes he’ll even cup my face with both hands and stroke my cheek. So realistically I know our bond is unchanged, but it is hard to remember when he’s been throwing one tantrum after another for half of the day. And yes, he’s fantastic with his grandparents and my MIL is always very quick to point out that she doesn’t understand what I’m talking about because he’s so wonderful and he does xyz for us just fine 😦
    Remember: this too shall pass.

  14. Romy #
    September 8, 2014

    Also I can totally relate to your parenting after infertility comment. My friends with toddlers complain about them openly. I never do because I don’t let myself forget I could have NOT had my son too, had IVF failed. I think we beat ourselves up too much. It is perfectly ok to dislike certain aspects of parenting.

  15. September 8, 2014

    IF I am able to take a step back (and often I am not until it’s over), I can look at this from my therapist lens… Kids are the worst when they are insecure, the feelings you are feeling (frustrated, insecure, fear, feelings of failure) are probably feelings that Sabine has to some degree and that’s why you have them, you are feeling her feelings. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it means she is going through a tough time and she is safe experiencing these feelings with you. You can try to purposefully take on the opposite feelings – confident, adventurous, excited, whatever are opposite – when she starts getting upset. She starts to crawl away and cry, instead of chasing her and trying to appease her, sit calmly and still and give her a minute before going over or maybe pick out your own toy to hold or book to read. That kind of thing. At least, when I was a therapist, sometimes being the “opposite” of my clients who were escalating was really helpful in stopping the spiralling out of control.

    But also it is really okay to not like parenting during certain phases. Certainly you liked the first 14 months. But you don’t really like right now. That’s fine, you don’t have to like every phase of childhood! I didn’t like the baby stage and the first 12 months were the hardest of my life … but I actually LOVE my toddlers who drive me crazy and push boundaries and have lots of tantrums! Somehow this is a better phase for me. But I did not like parenting for a very long time. No guilt. You don’t have to love everything all the time. You are a great parent. No matter what, you will get through this phase and so will Sabine, and when she walks and talks she will be a whole different kid.

  16. September 8, 2014

    I read something once (I never remember where) that says that your kids tend to feel more comfortable with you and are therefore more likely to act out with you. My husband has said, more than once, “she only cries like that around you”.
    Also, my almost 16 month old is not walking yet either.

  17. September 8, 2014

    Being a mom is TOUGH, even when you wanted it more than anything. Sometimes I feel guilty about wanting to put my kids to bed as early as possible or grumbling when I’m woken up at 6 am, instead of getting to sleep longer. Last night, my miracle baby woke me FOUR times (at 17 months!) and I thought about women who get to sleep as much as they want. I had four kids on purpose, but daily find it to be the most challenging job I’ve ever had (and I once worked 80 hour weeks with some 30 hour shifts). In the end, it’s still worth it though, and I wouldn’t change it–at least not for long. Every age comes with big unforeseen challenges but somehow you get through them. “This too shall pass” is my mantra. Your feelings are normal!

  18. September 8, 2014

    I like what JB said. She trusts you more with her emotions. Let’s go with that.

  19. September 8, 2014

    The toddler years are hard! And I hate to say it but I have found 2 a lot harder (eek) it’s the independence thing. However, we always feel like we are doing a lot worse than we actually are. Being a mum is the hardest thing I have had to do on some days.

  20. September 8, 2014

    I recently read that in grown ups, we fight most with our spouse because we get all pent up not being able to be honest with work colleagues/friends/family for fear of losing our job or friendships or family bonds. We take it out on the one person we can be real with, knowing they won’t leave. Sometimes we even (subconsciously) create tension to get the reminder that they won’t leave even when we are being terrible, just to give ourselves a security boost. I think this is probably the same for bubbas like Sabine. She can be real with you, because you won’t go anywhere. She can also test your commitment for subconscious reassurances. You’re being a wonderful mama, don’t you worry.

  21. September 8, 2014

    Belle, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel like this. The few parents who don’t go through this are so rare and lucky it makes me want to punch them. Especially the ones who didn’t have to spend dollar after dollar after dollar on treatments or legal fees, because that aspect only makes the guilt worse.

    It is hard, girl. You know I’m here if you need someone to talk to. *hugs*

  22. September 9, 2014

    What everyone else has said and so much more!! I am sure that for those of us who have our little one after fighting with IF for so long, we want to love every moment and every day of our little one that we fought so hard to have. But you know what everyone, yes EVERYONE, is allowed their bad moods and bad days. I know some days I have felt the exact same as you: I just can’t wait for Paxlet to go to bed…and then daddy comes home and Paxlet is a happy angel with him. O!M!G! Talk about frustrating, to the point of tears at times.

    It does get better… and then there are new things that they do to make you feel like a bad parent. She loves you, even when she is being challenging and a pill.

  23. Amy #
    September 9, 2014

    All I can say is same here!! Hard days for sure! Your days sound strikingly like my days with my 15 months old. I’m now going to read everyone’s comments for advice, too.

  24. September 9, 2014

    I didn’t comment on your post about being a sahm because I figured everyone said what needed to be said but I just want to say your completely not alone. I spend all day every day alone with Griffin and there are days where I just want to lock myself in the room and just let him carry on. He doesn’t want to be inside but as it’s winter I can’t let him out. He has moments of such fussiness I want to cry with frustration. I think you going to work is a great idea and I would love to but I can’t because he needs extra attention from me as he has just gotten hearing aids and also my husband doesn’t want me too as he feels because he is away for work so much,I need to be accessible 24/7 to make up for it.After all the heartache trying to have a baby and now wanting to just give up some days is filling me with guilt but I tell myself that it’s just part of being a new mom and just because I battled to have a child doesn’t mean I’m not just as tired as the fertile new moms. I’m hoping it gets easier but I’m happy to hear it’s not just me.Once Sabine is in school and you have a chance to miss her,then you will feel so much better about everything.Just hang in there…I have started getting a babysitter and I go out for a couple hours,even just to a movie so I can recharge and breath. Maybe you should try get the professor to watch her and you go take a walk just to get some you time.

  25. September 9, 2014

    I could also have written this post! My daughter is only 9 months old but behaves the exact same way as Sabine. She has always been a fussy baby since birth and 9 months later I am beyond exhausted. These days my girl is trying so so hard to crawl and hasn’t quite figured it out so it’s day in and day out of cranky baby who just wants to be able to move. We could have had the worst day ever but as soon as Daddy walks through the door she is full of smiles and giggles and appears to be the happiest baby ever! I too struggle with the guilt of not enjoying this parenting business as much as I think I should be after 3 years of treatments and IVF. It’s so so so tough! I do think all of these comments are true though… and it helps to know that many others experience the same thing with their little monsters too. I’m sure it gets so much better as time goes on but in the midst of it it seems like it never will. You are doing amazing with your little peanut 🙂

  26. September 9, 2014

    Maybe someone has already touched on this, but let me just add my two cents… Belle, you are not alone! My SAHM friends and I talk about this on a fairly regular basis and we ALL feel that our kids act VERY different for other people than they do for us. And do you know why we think that is? Because no human being on earth can act like an angel 24/7 and they save their worst behavior for us because they feel SAFEST with us. And if that’s true, then I’d say you’re doing an amazing job, mama! Your child trusts you enough to let you see every side of her. I know it’s a small consolation when you’re in the middle of it, but just know that it really is something we all deal with. xo

  27. September 9, 2014

    Maybe someone has already touched on this, but let me just add my two cents… Belle, you are not alone! My SAHM friends and I talk about this on a fairly regular basis and we ALL feel that our kids act VERY different for other people than they do for us. And do you know why we think that is? Because no human being on earth can act like an angel 24/7 and they save their worst behavior for us because they feel SAFEST with us. And if that’s true, then I’d say you’re doing an amazing job, mama! Your child trusts you enough to let you see every side of her. I know it’s a small consolation when you’re in the middle of it, but just know that it really is something we all deal with. xo

  28. shinara #
    September 10, 2014

    Imagine wanting to talk but can’t. Imagine wanting to understand things and do things but our clumsy little hands can’t do it yet. Imagine wanting to open that door, but can’t. Imagine wanting to eat everything, but can’t because … No damn teeth! When my little one had garlic sauteed broccoli for the first time he was sooo excited. He sucked on them so hard because he had no teeth. Then, I remember this clearly, he got truly angry for the first time in his young life. He threw that broccoli spear for all it’s worth across the floor and screamed. Why? Because he couldn’t chew it and eat it like mom and dad. Now he has six teeth and he loves eating them, but he still gets frustrated when he can’t eat as fast as he’d like or use a spoon or fork like me.

  29. Shelley #
    September 10, 2014

    Oh love, I hear you. Juni just went through a big leap and she acted the same way (though with everyone). Have to read Wonder Weeks? It’s a big help to understanding why kids are struggling at certain development points and how you can help.

    I’ve also heard that littles are often toughest on mom because they feel safest with her, like they can “let it all out” w/her and she’ll understand and love them anyways. It’s hard but thinking of it this way may help a little. It’s because you’re actually her safe place! Not because you don’t make her happy.

    Above all, this too shall pass.

  30. September 10, 2014

    Just to give you some home. Dylan had a huge daddy preference that just shifted at about 18 months. I think going back to work will improve your relationship with Sabine in multiple ways…you’ll get breaks, she’ll feel like time with you is more “special,” etc. Hugs.

  31. jak #
    September 15, 2014

    this is classic SAHM. my mom was SAHM to my very much younger siblings and i watched this first hand, every day. daddy is the rockstar when mom is a SAHM. but a friend of mine (co-owner of our fav restaurant, who walked my squirming 14 MO around while my husband and i ate at her restaurant) reminded me that its not just SAHM… our kids will act out just because we are “mom”. i asked her why is he doing this, she said, “IT”S BECAUSE ITS YOU!”

    but, i do think sahm moms experience more of this, and it’s because they are with their kids more. there are awesome things and sucky things about sahm-ing and working away from home. there is no perfect life! enjoy the one you have!

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