Whew, what a month! I haven’t written in ages, because April was packed to the gills with activities and adventures (and very little sleep, sadly.) It was a fun month, it was a tough month. Here’s what I learned:
1. When your toddler is in a screeching phase, shushing him and telling him to be quieter will never really work. Visible anger doesn’t help. Nothing will really matter to him. Your best bet is snacks.
Felix is on the tail end of a horrible period where screeching is his favorite emotional outlet. His language abilities are blossoming, and all of his canines were pushing through at the beginning of the month. The poor kid was just feeling all the feels. I lost it more than a handful of times, and felt like a total failure. I’ve decided to put it behind me and recognize that in our parent-child relationship, the moment when I finally lose my cool and speak harshly or yell is also the moment when Felix may need stronger boundaries anyway. I’m still going to work on understanding his needs and my own, but I am not going to beat myself up over tempers lost.
2. Large family gatherings are so much fun now. We traveled to Virginia to stay with siblings and nephews (and niece!) and Felix absolutely loved it. The hustle and bustle was a wonderful antidote to our winter cabin fever, and he thrived with all the positive attention he received from his cousins.
3. I’m still not ready for ‘real’ work. I tried to take on a side project doing some copy writing, and quickly became frazzled and anxious about the deadline. It loomed over me, and Felix’s rotten sleep had me zoning out in front of the computer screen when I’d have a moment to myself. This was a disappointing realization, and also another chance to reflect on work and child raising. I hope I can find a better balance someday soon.
4. Hosting a foreign guest is a unique challenge! We had a former student from our Peace Corps China days staying with us all month, and so each day included as many typical American experiences as I could manifest. By the end of the month, I think we were all a bit exhausted.
5. Your kid will learn at his own pace, and it is a magical thing. Felix knows his ABCs. It is weird. It began with humming the song, and then a particular interest in a few alphabet books. During one particular reading session, he pointed to ‘D’ and just….said it. I was kind of shocked! From there, he was a boy obsessed. Everywhere we go, he points out letters and numbers. It’s kind of his thing right now. Of course, we are proud. Every child has their particular talents…some children sleep. Ours recites the alphabet. Sigh.
5. Felix now only nurses at night, and that has really helped me during the day. I worried that cutting out the midday nursing session would be a struggle, but we were so busy during our vacation in Virginia that it just worked itself out! My body felt uncomfortable the first day or so, but has adjusted well. I now hope to cut down on night nursing, but this is a really difficult process. Felix’s inability to sleep for longer periods of time has caused me to rely on nursing him just so I can get some relief at night….ok, this is leading on to my next and final point:
6. Now, more than ever, I know not to ever judge another parent over whatever struggles they choose to share. I document my issues with Felix’s sleep, and regularly post to Instagram when I am awake at 3 a.m. and feeling particularly hopeless. I do it because it makes me feel less alone. I do it because I want other mothers to know that it isn’t abnormal or weird to have sensitive sleepers. I know an entire culture exists of people who hate on “chronic oversharers”, or folks who are bothered by how others share and portray their struggles. Whatever your struggle is, however big or small, it is okay to express yourself!
Sometimes friends will say “Ugh, I’m so tired today…but I shouldn’t even complain to you!” Of course you can! If anything, I feel for you even more! Life is not a competition of who has it worse, and it isn’t really possible (or useful) to compare situations. My struggle isn’t as intense or difficult as many other people’s, but it is still valid. So is yours. I have always heard that nobody likes a complainer. Positivity is wonderful! But the bottom line is: we are all in this mess of parenthood together. We can rise as we lift, and it is ok to be honest during tough times.
Ok, gang, onward to May!