Something had to give.
Let’s start with the good news. I am loving being back at work. I find that I end up laughing about something every day. And those occasional studies that talk about how mums make great employees have some truth in them, you know; my time management is better than it’s ever been, and even on slow days when the temptation strikes anyone, I’m not inclined to procrastinate (if you procrastinate with a child, you pay for it; puts you off for life). I really enjoy being me again, and I’ve had the luxury of a little time to do some of the really fun stuff, like reigniting our Twitter feed, as well as getting a far more regular content creation schedule in place.
Also, Ramona’s having more good days than bad at nursery. She’s playing outside, painting, pottering over to the book corner, etc. Today she apparently was the only child to have a proper afternoon nap, and when she woke up from it and the staff were busy soothing the others who had fallen asleep later she simply pootled over to some toys and played quietly and happily on her own. One carer said “it was like she knew to be quiet and not disturb the others, and she’s so independent; she didn’t need us!”.
Of course, increased independence can go hand in hand with separation anxiety. Although we were always careful to leave her for longer and longer periods with grandparents and eased her into nursery with half days, she’s now going through an apparently classic case of freak outs when she sees me or Ashley leaving. She’s generally happy but clingy when we get back, and I think that the day time anxiety is likely to ease quite soon.
So I wasn’t expecting it to spill over into night. I’m not even sure it has, exactly. She used to go into the cot drowsy but awake and sleep fine. She still sleeps through the night the vast majority of the time unless she’s sick or, in one case, too hot. Now she howls like a banshee when we pop her in the cot. For three days I attempted a sort of controlled crying; not giving in and picking her up, just soothing her in the cot, then leaving her for a minute or two, then silently popping her back down, etc etc. All it left was a baby who eventually slept out of the sheer exhaustion of being inconsolable. Today I snapped after half an hour of listening to her get more and more distressed, picked her up, let her lie on my tummy for five minutes until she was really sleepy, and then popped her in her cot where, after a brief wail of reproach, she slept like a log.
I feel terribly guilty now. Not because I think controlled crying is bad, because I’m sure it works well for many people. But because I think I picked the wrong time to do it. It can’t be a coincidence that this sleeping issue has appeared right when a tooth is coming through and she’s snotty and stressing out. If it was just the separation anxiety, I’m sure I could be a good What to Expect… girl and be all consistent and have a perfect bedtime routine that doesn’t deviate ever (seriously, who manages that?) and calmly sooth her, etc etc. But I ain’t that woman. I’m a woman who thinks a distressed child is distressed for a reason. She didn’t want to be rocked to bed, or to play or to read a book. She wanted soothing, from me, and she got it.
Most people would be fretting now about creating a new situation; I’m just sorry I didn’t give in earlier.
And speaking of giving in… It’s been forever since I ran. I feel very disappointed in myself and want to start again. I have all the excuses – going back to work, wanting to spend every minute I can with Ramona – and they’re all valid. But I have to find a way to find time for it again, and I know other busy mums do. It was good for me, physically and mentally, and I know I’ll have to start from scratch again, but I want to. Maybe if I start at the long weekend with the extra time I’ll have it’ll kick me into gear again.
Something had to give. And in the end it was the last of my faith in guidebooks and parenting tomes. From now on, I do what I think is right, and I trust myself.