Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010

Dear Oliver,
Oh my Ollie boy. What a week - or two - it has been. You have tested my patience and I confess that I have not always passed. For months I have felt that each day I've become a better mother than I was the day before, but not this week. Oh no. I've slipped and slided, sometimes into a mama I don't recognize, one I don't want to get to know.

You've been teething 4 molars for what seems like an eternity now. Teething so badly that one morning I strapped you into your car seat and dragged you to the doctor, honestly hoping that you had an ear infection to blame the moaning and whining on. But no, just teeth. Big, mean, pointy teeth forcing their way through your tender gums. I felt terrible for you and thankful that I couldn't remember my own teething pain, certain that I wouldn't be able to bear watching you experience this if I truly knew what you were feeling. Two of those teeth are in now, but two keep pressing, keep pushing, keep making you miserable (though you always find a smile and a cock of your head to bestow upon charmed strangers). Through all your pain I remained patient and devoted and kind. How could I not?

But then, in the midst of the teething, we climbed aboard an airplane and headed north. I'd booked an early morning flight (will you be old enough when you read this to hear me say "fuck all o'clock"? Because that was the official departure time.) in the hopes that you would sleep. But you didn't. From 3:30am when we roused you (with smiling success) through 2pm when we reached your grandpa's house, you were awake. Awake and happy, but awake. So awake.

Those first few nights at grandpa's house - the house that found us sleeping in the same room as you, The Lightest Sleeper in the History of Sleep - when you were up every hour and a half, sometimes for an hour and a half; when you woke for the day at 5am; when you were lucky to net a total of 6 hours of choppy sleep - I think I kept it together fairly well. I wasn't as gentle as I might've liked, not quite as bright as you deserve, but it was ok.

But as the days mounted, things went south.

You'd think I'd be used to sleep deprivation by now, considering how terribly you've slept this past year. But this week was like being thrust back into your newborn days and before long I couldn't cope. There were moments in the night when I held you in front of my face, legs dangling, begging you angrily to sleep. Moments when I could see the confusion on your face - wondering where your kind mommy had gone and why I was shouting at you. There were moments in the day when you stood at my knees, whining and moaning and I wanted nothing more than to turn and walk away from you. To let someone else deal with it all, the waking, the not eating, the whining the whining the whining. But instead I'd pick you up half-heartedly, sling you on my hip and hope you'd be quiet, if not happy, for just 5 minutes.

If we'd been at home I think it would've been ok. We could've lazed around the house during the day or we could've gone to Gymboree to distract us both from the exhaustion. But this was meant to be vacation - this was meant to be restful and fun, I was meant to smile and chat and reconnect with family and friends, we were meant to be happy - but all I wanted to do was sleep. And I think I resented you a bit. For the first time in your life I resented you. Nothing dramatic happened - I didn't hit you or shake you or abandon you in your bed. But I was angry with you, against my better judgement, regardless of knowing that you were all out of sorts and couldn't help your behavior, not really. I tried to find moments of joy with you, but I couldn't deny the veil of resentment that hung between us.

So I pushed your daddy's buttons, wanting to take my frustrations at you out on somebody, anybody else. And we argued and we lay in bed at night sweating (grandpa's never been a fan of a/c). We tried to make small talk, but sometimes we failed. We didn't go to the places I'd wanted to go to. We didn't do the things I'd wanted to do. We didn't see so many of the people I'd wanted to see. It was the anti-vacation.

We've been home a few days now and while I'd hoped to sink back into our routine it's been upset instead by illness. I think you and I both were so worn down from our trip that the first nasty little bug we encountered dove straight for our broken immune systems and hit hard. So you're still not sleeping. And I'm still not sleeping. And I'm wondering if either of us will ever, please god, sleep again.

I hope someday soon I can look back on this trip with half a smile. I hope I'll reflect and rejoice in the fact that you bonded so triumphantly with your grandpa, and beam as I recall how you charmed everyone, even through your exhaustion. But for now, today, I mostly look back with shame.

But know that I love you, Ollie Robin. I love you more than anything in this world, more than anything in any world. Even when it seems like I don't.


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