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Feeling like a monster . . . needing to heal own past

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  • Feeling like a monster . . . needing to heal own past

    I guess I'm just looking for some "familiar faces" out there that might understand or at least sympathize with what I'm going through. My 20-month old love of my life is wonderful in every way. I adore her. I came alive when she was born. She is the light of my life.

    And I struggle sometimes. As we all do, I'm sure.

    Bedtime and naptime are particularly hard lately, but when I'm honest I know that they have always been for her. Sleep just doesn't happen easily for her. She's extremely wakeful--even as a newborn she could (and would!) go for 8-10 hours without falling asleep--and interested in everything around her. That often precludes her from falling asleep easily.

    We co-sleep, and I breastfeed on demand. She breastfeeds quite a bit still, which is fine with me. Sometimes I feel a bit tapped out physically, but generally we're negotiating all of that well.

    Back to sleep . . .

    Naptime has been better. Sometimes she's asleep in 15 minutes or so.

    Bedtime can be a lot more. Tonight it was an hour and forty five minutes. And it's not just the time; it's the physicality of it. She rolls around, breastfeeds, rolls around trying to get comfortable, talks, asks for Daddy, asks for the cat, asks for the puppy, says "I love you," rolls around, kicks, breastfeeds, etc. etc. etc. You get the point.

    And I just struggle with all of it right now. Away from it, I know that she's absolutely perfect just as she is. She's fine.

    I'm not. And today both naptime and bedtime were not good, and I yelled at her.

    And I feel so awful about it, like I'm just this terrible mother. Like I hurt her. Like she's going to be scared of me. And how unfair that I yell at her because I'm frustrated that she won't sleep. How unfair is that? It's awful.

    The upshot of it all is that I'm stuck in this crazy cycle of sadness about my own childhood and how crazy my father and sometimes my mother actually were. They were inconsistent, and I was often confused and so sad and hurt about the way things were.

    But I'm threatening to replicate it for my daughter, and it scares the hell out of me. Saying all of this is helpful, and that's a start. How do I move through this without catching her in the crossfire?

    I just feel paralyzed. My husband says I'm too hard on myself and that if I heard myself, I'm not actually yelling. But the anger, the frustration, they don't have to have yelling behind them to be communicated. I just feel sick to think that she feels that from me when she needs to feel loving calmness while falling asleep and the rest of the day too.

    I just feel awful about myself, and I'm so sad about potentially making her sad or scared of me.

    Am I overreacting? Do I sound crazy?

    I just needed to say all of this . . . any feedback, understanding, recommendations, etc. are welcome. Thanks for listening to my rant. It really did help to say it all out loud.

  • #2
    Yes it does sound familiar and no, it doesn't sound crazy! Having a child changes most of us for the better. Our love & connection makes us want to be the best parent we can for them...and for many of us that means being a better parent than our parents were to us. It means we have to come to terms with some emotional baggage we may be carrying from our past.

    And yes, in most moments with our kids, we are capable of being at our best. But then there are those times when our emotions are stressed and put to the test. And some less-positive (but nevertheless instinctual) behaviors arise. And it's OK. No, it's not ideal, but trying to become the perfect "always-responding-appropriately" parent doesn't happen overnight. We WILL make mistakes, we will respond to our kids in ways that don't sit well with us. What's important is to be able to recognize what happened, what needs to happen, and to move on. It may be hard, but try not to dwell on it...I assure you, your daughter's not!

    If you haven't read it, I highly recommend "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall Rosenberg. It's a simple and effective way of communicating during conflict or emotionally charged situations, focusing on what you're feeling and needing. And hang in there at bedtime...keep trying different things, change up the routine and know that things won't be this way forever!


    • #3

      I really feel for you.

      You sound like a very caring and loving mom, you wouldn't have posted about this issue if you weren't. I also suspect you are being too hard on yourself. Sure, maybe your LO can pick up on your frustration behind some of your communications but then she surely can also pick up on just how much you really care about every aspect of how you are raising and interacting with her.

      My DS is also not a big sleeper and at one point it would take easily up to 2 hrs to put him down. I stopped fighting it and don't even bother trying to put him to bed too early, it's a lot easier. It is tiring when he's up until 9-9:30 (even 10:00) but at least if he's busy playing and I can just hang out with him and wait until he's more tired than wired then the actual process of putting him to sleep is shorter and less frustrating and he often surprises me and does really interesting and cute things that I would otherwise not see if he was asleep.

      I also try to skip his afternoon nap when he has a good morning nap, so that he won't stay up too late. Supper time is usually not very good as he wants to fall asleep during dinner but we muddle through and then he enjoys his bath and will go to sleep much faster.

      I hope this helps,
      Best wishes,


      • #4
        I'm sorry hear that you having trouble at naptime and bedtime. I have a lo who is very simalar. She does the same things and it drove me batty. Often times when she was extra challenging to put her down (1hr or more) she would starting hitting and kicking and I would repedeatly ask her to stop and tell her that it hurt. I found that at these moments often I would loose my cool (i'm a yeller and i've been working very hard to change that) or I would say things that I would regret later, for example. If your not going to listen to me i'm going to leave. I always felt horrible that i lost my cool and later i would think to myself "their were better ways to deal with that". So instead of getting to the point that I felt out of control i would stop myself and look at my dd and say "Mommy is feeling very angry and frustrated that I can't help you fall asleep. I need to take a time out to help me calm down. I will be back.I love you". if i didn't want her to know i was angry i would say "mommy needs to go potty, i'll be back in a few minutes". I found often leaving the room gave me some time to cool down. If dh wasn't at work he would go in a keep her calm unitl i gained control of my emotions.

        I will point out that my dd is senstive to sugar. I ended up cutting juice out of her diet and watching her sugar levels because this will make her more challenging to get to sleep. I've also noticed that she needs to get outside ( i know this isn't always possible) but even going for a run at someone elses house will help her tire herself out more. We've also started weaning at night time. She gets the breast for a short time 5-10 min each one. But once she's off she's done she doesn't get it again till morning. It was rough for the first two weeks, i still stay and comforted her to sleep still but not having her yanking on my shirt and getting on and off did help with my feelings of frustration.

        I just want you to know that everyone makes mistakes and as long as your able to recognize them and make an attempt to correct the situation you are being the best mom you can be!


        • #5
          The fact that you are this concerned makes you a wonderful mother. I think you need to give yourself a break. Of course we don't want to yell at our children, but we're not perfect. It sounds like you're getting down on yourself for even just feeling frustrated. You are allowed to feel frustrated, you can't put on a happy face all the time and your daughter needs to learn that it's okay to express emotions. I don't mean yelling, but feelings of frustration, or sadness are okay to espress. It's also okay to let our kids know that we're angry as long as it's not done in an agressive or violent way.

          You aren't going to make you daughter scared of you with the occasional slip up. It doesn't sound like this is a frequent occurence. Your daughter loves you and she will forgive you. If you make a mistake tell her you're sorry and explain what you're feeling.

          As far as bedtime, can you put her to bed later? It sounds like maybe she just isn't ready to go to sleep. I don't know how you feel about schedules, but I don't have my son on a bedtime schedule. Some people agree with that some people don't, but I know I would never get him to go sleep before he was ready. I get him ready for bed and then when he's ready he will ask for milk. Sometimes he falls asleep nursing in the living room and sometimes he nurses for awhile and then says he wants to go to bed. Then we go lay down in our bed and he usually nurses again for a few minutes and then falls asleep.

          Good luck, remember you are a loving and caring mother!


          • #6
            Thank you, everyone, for your replies. I sincerely mean that.

            When I wrote this, I felt so fragile and sad. And I'm happy to report that I have done some soul searching and have had a wonderful heart-to-heart with my husband that was very cathartic. I think that went a long way toward the healing. I feel a bit more on the other side of the pain, if that makes sense.

            I am much too hard on myself and sometimes I lack the perspective of how hard is too hard. And I drive myself crazy in the meantime.

            I appreciate all of your support and suggestions. It's so nice to connect with others who are doing similar things or who have struggled with similar things while doing AP. I don't have many people in my life who understand what we're doing (sometimes not even my husband!). So, when people who "get it" suggest that I may be too hard on myself, I tend to listen a bit more.

            Thanks again. It's a blessing to have this forum. Peace & love. I'll keep you posted.


            • #7
              Have you ever read the book Parenting From the Inside Out? I just have a second here, but I would suggest deals with addressing your own past so that you're better able to parent your kids. You are so right that it is easy to get caught up parenting the way you were parented (because you were "taught" that for 18 years more or less), so don't be too hard on yourself.


              • #8
                Just wanted to convey my thanks for actually posting your experience, I am always able to take something away when I come here. How wonderful to get such support knowing we are not alone in this.