I have a lovely husband, he’s a doting father, more sensitive and hands-on than many.
And yet, when the babies need something, when they are awake in the night, when they are upset, when they are overtired and irrational—they want me.
They want to be oh so close to me.
Which, I’ll be honest, is both the most beautiful thing ever and the most maddening thing ever.
I love my snuggles and I love being the antidote to their fear and sadness. But occasionally, I do wish they understood that they could easily wake their dad for help, or that he is equally capable of putting socks on the correct way.
I suppose I love being the sun to their universe until that moment when I need a break.
Especially because when I need that break, it can get ugly.
As in storming out of the house screaming nonsensical things, and then hiding in the backyard. Truth. This happened.
The preface to this moment was numerous, consecutive nights of a tag team of small people and two anxious dogs waking me up about 5,743 times in the night. Of being so overtired I could barely see straight, of needing a nap. Badly. Needing to not be needed for just a little bit. The irony on this particular day was that it was a weekend – Daddy was home. Available. The break, the rest, should have come easily.
But the kids were having a tough day also, which in our house results in needing Mommy, not Daddy. I don’t remember why they weren’t down for a nap yet, or maybe they had slept in the car, or well, I have no idea, but they were up. I desperately needed to be down. I ran away into my bed and closed the door. My husband had strict orders not to let them in. You know this story. Right as I was falling asleep, they busted in “mommy I need YOU…”
I think I spazzed a wee bit, pushed them out of the room, then went to fall asleep again. And again. They slithered in.
I spazzed a little more, got them occupied with Daddy, then snuck away downstairs, to my son’s room. His room has black out blinds and is in the bottom corner of our house. Sometimes we call it the bat-cave – it’s the perfect place to take a mid day nap. I closed the doorand settled in for a nap. A real nap. Whereupon crying and screaming and whining entered my napping room.
And here’s where I snapped. (Looking back I can’t help giggling at the image—but at that time—this was not funny. At all.)
I grabbed a blanket off my son’s bed. I walked briskly—a scary brisk walk—down the hall to the back door. We had recently purchased an outdoor couch, which at that moment looked like the best place to nap.
I threw the door open, clutching my blanket, and turned around and screamed at the three people I love most, “Why won’t you people let me sleep?”
I walked out, slammed the door behind me, and threw myself on the couch. Pulled up the covers and could still hear the kids sniffling and crying behind the closed door. At that point, I was so rattled, I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I began my own personal temper tantrum. Irrational, horrible things. You people don’t let me sleep! I’m leaving!
My husband, bless his heart, didn’t judge me. He took the kids upstairs and probably read to them, or turned on a show or something. Something to distract them from their terrifying mother out in the backyard. When I had collected myself, I re-entered my home. A bit bashful, and still exhausted, but ready to be an adult again. I walked upstairs and found the kids huddled together. Tucker, the big boy, who was all of three, was consoling his very nervous sister. “It’s okay, Gracie. Mommies come back. They always come back. They have to.” But he didn’t sound convinced, and he sure looked relieved when he saw I wasn’t actually leaving.
Writing this now, part of me laughs, and part of me feels so badly for saying such awful things to them that day, and part of me wants to hug that me—I was so tired. So please, mamas. If you are feeling on the brink of a SNAP, ask for help. Walk away. Figure out what you need. Give yourself a break. It’s really hard to be needed all the time, and to do it on next to no sleep–well. That’s a recipe for disaster.
What might save you from taking a blanket to your back yard and announcing you are leaving? A walk? A snack? Someone to listen? A hug? Or maybe more. Find a therapist. A reiki practitioner. Schedule a massage. Do what you need to do for your sanity.
Mental health is no joke, and a mother’s mental health is incredibly important for all members of the family. I think we mamas tend to try to push through, keep taking care of everyone else, and we forget that our mental health should be the number one priority. Now with the clarity of fairly good sleep on a regular basis, I know that. I didn’t know it then.
If you find yourself in my situation, threatening to leave until you get a nap somewhere, find a way to take a break. Call in whatever backup you can. I am telling you. Your mental health, you, your family—you all deserve it.