Friday, October 3, 2008

You snooze, you lose (December 30 207)

When people ask you to sum up motherhood in one word, I know I am supposed to say something like: life changing, fulfilling or "the best thing that ever happened to me" even though that is more than one word. Of course it is all these things, but if I must be honest the one word that comes to me is: exhausting, closely followed by "exasperating". I love my baby, but to my shame motherhood does not come easy to me. There are two reasons for that: the first is my problem with sleep. I love sleep, but I have great difficulty falling asleep. It takes me an hour or so of relaxing, leaving the world behind and reading a bit before I may drift off to sleep. In time of great exhaustion this can be reduced to fourty five minutes, maybe half an hour but not less. Add a baby that wakes every three hours to that mix, you never sleep more than one to two hours. After three months, that starts to weigh more than just the occasional bad night.
The second problem is noise. I remember a few years ago they were building a large apartment complex behind my mothers home. They worked all day from about 7 am to 7 pm, in constant noise and in the weekends my mom did renovation projects at home. The noise drove me utterly insane. I became cranky and short tempered, and it takes quite a bit to do that. I am convinced that the noise has been a big factor in my decision to move out, and my crankiness in my mothers enthousiasm for the plan. If you have a baby that does not sleep a lot, and that is socialised by lots of talking to him, the big problem is that that baby will babble very soon, and afterwords never stops. Of course this babbling is better than the crying that is his primary means of communication before, but it is still noise. It seems that motherhood erodes the two things from your life that are needed to make me mentally comfortable: a certain amount of quiet and sleep. (And then we do not even mention routines, some time to devote to intelectual stimulation or creativity, and time with daddy) Some of these we hopefully will get back over time, but until then, I struggle to get through the days.
Luckily there are some rewards, like the moment there is that first smile. That one night in which you got to sleep four hours, the admiration of strangers, the secret conviction that your baby is the smartest and most beautiful baby ever, and the new milestones that you get to celebrate. Nevertheless it is wonderful now and again to have a trusted person to whom you can hand baby with full confidence while you get some of that elusive sleep and quiet, Oma and grandma are two such people. But although Joseph clearly loves them both, he will take revenge on mommy for not being at his back and call. So, of course when this afternoon I sank into the blissful sensation of sleep that only a mother can appreciate my baby LAUGHED for the first time. And I was not there to hear it. He has refused to repeat the feat so far, making it very clear that if I take my eyes off from him for a moment, he will go through with this growing up thing by himself.

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