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That Frustrating Part of Mommyhood

I'm on a list of moms that have, for the most part, been together since their babies were newly born. I'm a lurker (shocking, I know) and try to keep my mouth out of it, loving watching the women work things out the way I did when my kidlets were babies.

Now their babies are toddlers, moving towards pre-schoolers and they're in that place where the child is still nursing, mostly at night because they're so darn busy during the day, and moms (and the other parents!) are searching for an answer to the sleepless nights that can come with a wiggly tot who hollers for the breast ten or more times a night. "Walking zombies" is a common term heard from moms in this phase.

The questions ranged from "How do I get my toddler into her own bed?" to "How can I limit all this night nursing!?" Oh, how I remember those days.

So, because I acutely remember them and know how important it was for me to talk things out with my peers, I, once again, sat back listening. They knew what to do; I didn't need to add one thing to their generous advice to (and for) each other. But, I could offer something the others could not -the grandmother's perspective.

"Hi, mamas...

I'm accidently on this list (I'd asked to be removed ages ago), but think sometimes there're those happy accidents; this is one.

I really love what everyone's saying about how to gently wean... babies out of the bed and off the breast. I really couldn't have said anything better myself.

What I would like to offer is the grandmother's point of view (I have a grandbaby on the way... finally!).

The phrases, 'S/He'll grow out of it,' or 'For this, too, shall pass,' or 'Enjoy it while it lasts,' can all seem trite or even annoying when it's the middle of the night or you're trying to function after a sleepless breastfeeding marathon. So, I'll try to be more creative and sensitive to the dilemma.

I remember, just like it was yesterday, feeling exactly what you're all describing... the frustration, the suppressing of anger, the fatigue (isn't that word a total understatement?) and the wondering when is this period of clinginess ever going to end.

I promise. I promise. It does end. It does... and then, after a short time, you'll wake up and think, 'This bed is so big! When did that happen?' You'll be able to reach out and touch the partner who's finally rejoined the former-family bed... you might even laugh during lovemaking thinking how clandestine it is to have sex in a bed!

My favorite saying about parenthood is: The days are long; the years are fast.

I can smell Meghann's sweaty head even now... even when she's 19 weeks into her own pregnancy, the memory of her suckling in the night is still there. I can feel Aimee tucked into the crook of my arm, doing that sleep-suck... mwch mwch mwch... my nipple nowhere near; Aimee's 25 years old on the 20th! My Tristan is 29 years old this year. blink TWENTY-NINE. A year away from THIRTY. How? How did that incessantly crying toddler turn into a man?

I stood at Meghann's wedding 4 years ago, sitting in the Mother-of-the-Bride's pew, filled with disbelief that my UC baby, the baby who taught me all about Attachment Parenting, the child who was so high-need I thought I was going to live my life bald from pulling my hair out with frustration... was standing there, getting married... living a life of her own... far, far, far from our once-family bed.

I promise. I promise. You will get a lifetime of full nights' sleep. While the sleepless nights reappear when they're dating and driving, they subside again, leaving you with a house that stays exactly as you left it 12 hours earlier, being able to eat -or not eat- at any hour you decide and in a place of self-reflection about who you are (or want to be) when you are no longer just Tristan/Meggie/Aimee's Mommy.

I don't know if this will help at all, but I like to believe hearing these thoughts from a mom who'd been there when I was in the throes of exhaustion might have helped me to be in the moment a little bit better. Be-ing is something many of us work on via yoga or meditation. In birth, be-ing is crucial, but sometimes the be-ing in parenting gets lost in the cacophony of life.

I'll breathe deeply and be with you tonight. Know that you are never alone.


Ama Mamas -these babies are 3 or more years old now!


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Reader Comments (10)

You offer such insight and wisdom. I am a Doula and a wife that is TTC. I am about the same age as your Tristan. I always leave your blog with fresh ideas and often seeing different points of view either in your post or from the commenter. This blog provides me with many of the things I wish my own mother could and I just wanted to say thank you for putting your self out there and writing this blog.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSandra

You're right. I'm living it.
I'm about to send my oldest off to college in August and my youngest is 9 months. People ask me all.the.time if he is sleeping through the night. Not even close, is my reply, and that is OK. I'll blink and he'll be talking, I'll blink again and he'll be riding a two-wheeler, I'll close my eyes one more time and when I open them we'll be on our way to his first day at college too.
The days can drag but the years FLY by. I'll be tired for a while longer. It's ok, I treasure those quiet moments in the middle of the night, they won't last forever and tbh, they are some of the only quiet time I get with just me and my little one.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Your favorite saying about parenthood is now mine as well.

Great post!

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkimberly

You have spoken the truth!
It's so hard to believe how fleeting childhood really is when going through it. It's wise to keep it in mind when your in the middle of it all with babies and young kids.

Best wishes on grandmahood. Is that a word? :)

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRC

Grandmahood's a word to me! :) Thanks for the kind words.

April 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Thank you. I needed the reminder this week.

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

A friend of mine shared this on her Google Reader. It was a sweet reminder of days gone by for my 4 1/2 year old and hopefully encouraging for my SIL who has a 6 month old.

Well said.

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

Beautiful! Thanks for this... my oldest is almost 3. I needed this. :)

April 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSigrid

This made me cry. I needed it. I have a nearly-three year old and a six month old. I've forgotten what sleep is like. Thank you.

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMommyAttorney

Someday the bed will be empty of babyness...and the swings will sway only with the wind. I once wrote a poem called, "Silent Nights." Someday, I will not be waking to the sound of "ma ma ma ma MAAAAMAAA." I will not hear the snoring little ones. I will walk from empty bedroom to empty bedroom. I hope that I have few regrets and also hope that I do not feel all that empty. But I know I will miss those fuzzy heads on my chin as I'm holding/rocking/nursing. At least some day I will be able to hold a fuzzy headed one and smell that baby, and hand that baby off to mommy and daddy and do their laundry. Then I will be able to go home, and sleep in my own bed...if I am so blessed.

Thank you for writing from your perspective. I admit, even thinking of it with 7 children in the house, I tear up a little. Those tiny little people don't stay tiny, the oldest don't look at me the same as the baby...like I am all there is to happiness in life. That laugh while nursing, that'll be gone one day. Thank you for helping me savor the moments and yet not feel guilty for wanting that sleep, wanting a moment alone.

What a beautiful post Barb.



April 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

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