I have so many good things to say about our trip to San Francisco, but right now I feel like a puddle. James hasn’t been himself for four days. Yesterday, he broke out in a rash and required constant soothing. And just when the sleep angels smiled upon us, James pulled an up-every-two-hours-just-like-the-thought-we-were-done-with-it-newborn night.
Yesterday, when James woke up screaming an hour and a half after I put him down, I looked at Dan and said: “I can’t do this again!” But of course I could. Of course I would rush to his crib, swoop him up, soothe him, feed him, bounce him, rock him and do whatever it took to make him feel better and safe (and, if I’m being honest, get my own self back to my pillow as swiftly as possible).
This is what I am learning about motherhood. There is often no choice in the matter. You do what must be done.
Yes, it is true that everyone told us that as soon as we dared to think we had our shit down, that everything would go reeling. But I sort of forgot about that when I tasted the sweet nectar of James sleeping through the night two entire times. And only getting up once for a month before that.
The truth is that the trip was great and I loved it so much. The truth is also that James is sick, Dan is sick and we are all exhausted.
How many times have I heard how important a routine is? How little ones thrive on it? Well, you know what’s hard and humbling to admit? Now, so do I. I need nap time to be quiet, restorative time for myself. I need to be home at 6 p.m. to get him to sleep. And I bask in those sweet quiet hours between his bedtime and mine. In my former life, I craved nonstop adventure. But now, for my sanity, I lust after stillness.
(I’m not saying there can’t be extraordinary days where he naps on the go and we do adventurous things. We’ve had a lot of successful days like that. I’m just saying that five in a row pushed our limits.)
Since we got home, James bursts into tears with no warning. He sucks his thumb nonstop and pretty much won’t let me put him down. At a few points, I held him in my arms and cried too.
I took him to the doctor today. She assured me it was a virus that would pass.
“You look tired,” she said. “Are you ok?”
I’m embarrassed to complain. I’m embarrassed to tell you how I just wanted my mom to come over and rock him so that I could shower, maybe eat or even take a nap. How I wanted a break. How lonely I felt.
I took James to the park and watched a grandmother play with her granddaughter and fantasized. I met a mother with a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old twins and remembered how easy I have it.
I talked to a good friend and very trusted mom who lives near both her and her husband’s parents and she said: Sometimes, I feel lonely too. I guess it’s easy to idealize what it might be like.
We all feel alone in this world sometimes. We all have days where we just want to throw our hands up and have someone else take over. But that is not always an option. So we get through the day. We put in perspective (I am not a refugee carrying my child on raft over the sea). We go on.
I’m going to go rest now. I’m going to bury myself in our flannel sheets and see if stillness will wrap me up in its arms for just a little while.