By Julie Gamberg
I had one of those days today. A day that only a parent can appreciate. My toddler didn’t nap. And not only didn’t she nap, but whatever was keeping her too wired to sleep was also keeping her hysterical, weepy, wild, and deeply invested in negating any suggestion I might make or any attempt at getting her, say, fed or slept. As her hysteria wound up and up and up all afternoon, turning into bouts of mournful crying, thrashing, screaming, shaking, pounding, hitting, and kicking, my own blood pressure went up with it, along with my own exhaustion, hunger, thirst (needing to pee!), and general sense of fury at my child, and sense of failure as a parent.
Hard parenting days seem to be harder than anything I’ve done. It’s not that harder things haven’t happened. It’s that in the past, when they do, I get to lose it. Or at the very least check out emotionally. At one point during the endless crying and screaming, I just sat there next to my toddler, and began breathing exercises. When I felt myself still flooded with anxiety, I began chanting a Sanksrit mantra that sometimes calms my daughter down, as well as lessening my own anxiety. It was a no go today for both of us.
We finally traded nap for an early bedtime, with much consternation about getting pajama’d and storie’d and in bed too (which at this point I well knew was coming). But before that, once I knew the nap really, truly was not happening – as bad as she clearly needed it today, I took a giant breath and sent out a couple of aaack texts and emails in lieu of the work I was supposed to actually get done during naptime, held my clingy, angry, frustrated, and exhausted toddler on one hip while I fed me and her some refrigerator tofu and veggies I had previously prepared (thank you, thank you, my self of yesterday!), and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to wear her out in anticipation of bedtime, and trying to keep myself afloat. Thankfully she did fall asleep exceptionally early, leaving me time to catch up a bit, and to try to wind down and actually take a deep breath or two, start to finish.
Here is the amazing thing about parenting though, that I know all of you parents must know to be true – it is perhaps extra amazing for us single mamas: No matter how crappy the day was, no matter how much rage you felt at your child, no matter how much you longed to check out, none of that changes the immense love that surges through you as you watch your little one sleeping. Or how much you look forward to seeing her face in the morning.