One of my other Mommy Mantras is “I Can Do This! I Can Do This!” It was my favorite thing to repeat when it seemed like the singular goal my children had that day was to cause as much mess and destruction as they could. I repeated it in my head when I was sure that my last ounce of patience was used 2 toy arguments before. I hadn’t used it for a few month but when Baby #4 was about three and a half months and in the woes of teething my Mr went away for work and I had all 4 children by myself for the first time. Normally I would have the I have this attitude but with #4 getting up so frequently at night because of those little teeth I was one tired mama. I kept repeating my Mommy Mantra but there was a little voice in the back of my head that laughed and said, “Not with this little sleep you can’t!” My first thought was ok maybe you are right. I had a good 3 or 4 days solo with the kids and the “naps” I was getting at night weren’t cutting it. Why is it the nights you have no possibility of getting a nap the next day that the kids tag team you in their night wakings. One kids has sore legs because they are growing. Can’t blame them for that especially when height is not what my family is known for. Then Baby #4 is hungry. Couple hours later someone has a bad dream or is maybe just taking advantage of the space in our bed left by Daddy’s absence. (Which for the record does not stop said child from laying right next to me all night so that I’m trying to not fall out of bed.) Then #4 has sore teeth so feeding equals screaming and its an hour before I get back to bed. I check the clock and its 6:30. #2 will be up at 7 like she is every morning.
I saw a parenting meme that listed how parents survive on such little sleep. It said coffee, magic, sheer will power and I just don’t know anymore. That sounded about right. Magic was my favorite part of the whole thing.
Through these especially hard days and night the only consistent thing was that inner voice saying I was too tired to do this on my own. The experience made me super grateful that I had a partner who was coming back in a few days so I just needed to hold on a little longer. Single parents amaze me and we should have a national holiday for them because it is hard! Regardless of our parenting circumstances there is always going to be that nasty little inner voice telling you that you are failing. That you can’t do it. That parenting is too hard and that you are messing up your kids. I heard the nasty inner voice early when I found myself in some pretty serious postpartum depression 5 months after #1 was born. I got the help I needed but the shot to my mommy confidence will always be there. I will always second guess if I am doing this parenting thing right. I have gotten better at quieting the inner voice but it will never go away. It’s not always going to be like this. Babies and kids get older and will sleep better. I hear a legend of when all your kids are in school full-time that you can nap then. We’ll see. Until then, I’m going to keep trying to quiet that inner voice. She’s kind of a jerk. When I say I can do this and her reply is no you can’t I’m going to harness my stubborn side and tell her just watch me. I hope you will do the same.