Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Yesterday I got angry

Yesterday, after a really rough night of waking up every hour until finally giving in to my son's need to have my nipple in his mouth at all times while sleeping, and then a half a day of screaming, whining and wailing, I got mad at Oliver. I was tired, I was fed up, and I was angry.

Poor, sweet little Ollie is probably teething or reacting to my butter overload or just needing extra love, and I was just a steaming ball of rage. I didn't do anything irresponsible or dangerous, but I watched myself get mad, my whole body tensing up, my breath getting short, and as the day went on my attitude towards my son went from loving kindness to disinterested irritation.

The less he slept and more he screamed the more angry and annoyed I got, and the more I started to let my thoughts spin out of control, worrying "Can he tell that I'm angry?" "Am I going to feel this miserable again tomorrow, or tonight, or forever?" and of course "When will he shut up?!" and "Oh god, am I a terrible mother for wanting my child to shut up?!!"

One day later, with Ollie napping, and some time to reflect I realize that this phase of Ollie's development is also a developmental phase for me as a mother. He's not just the sweet, needy, tiny little baby he once was. He is becoming a person with a will and desires and moods and even a bit of a temper. Where for the first few months, every whimper stirred up a deep need to comfort in me, I am now entering a period where some of the whimpers bring out that nurturing instinct, but others just make me want to get out of here and let that be someone else's problem. And as my sister-in-law pointed out yesterday on a ranting stroll through our neighborhood, I need to learn to be OK with that.

Ollie will continue grow and delight me every day, but he will also test and challenge me and at least some of that growth and challenging is bound to make me feel angry and tired. That's normal and probably healthy. If every little thing Ollie does continues to delight me forever it will be pretty hard to lay down any boundaries for his behaviour.

Of course, whining and teething aren't behaviours that can be "fixed" with "boundaries", they're just a different kind of neediness from his original tiny baby needs. I know that 95% of the time I can and will be soothing and loving to him when he needs me. And 5% of the time, I'm going to have to just forgive myself for being human and getting angry.

In the meantime to keep my anger percentages down I'm going to hit my yoga mat for whatever moments I have to myself before he wakes up!

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