Tuesday, September 25, 2012

feeling fragile

 I've been feeling fragile and snappish towards the girls for days, although sleep-deprived is probably the more accurate description.  Ayla is cutting 2 year molars and not taking regular afternoon naps lately.  She's waking a lot through the night, wanting to nurse and be soothed.  The seasonal change also has me feeling under the weather physically and emotionally, and yet we are busier than ever.  I'm pretty good at letting go of the non-essential stuff, but that can only go so far before the stress of it outweighs the benefit.

I try to bring an awareness to my irritable mood and notice the little things around me that I am grateful for (a dramatic cloud, a perfectly shaped nutshell or autumn-colored leaf, a friendly mama to chat with at the park, the wind playing through mussed-up little girl hair, etc).  It doesn't make the moodiness go away, but it makes it easier to sit with, without taking it out on others or feeling guilty about myself.
I'm quick to apologize if I'm being rude to any of the girls, and they've been sweet to me.  I told Ayla in a very gruff voice today, "Don't.  Touch.  My.  Armpit!"  

She just looked at me and said, "Do you need a kissy?"
 Not wanting to be a martyr, I'm trying to take care of my own needs and still maintain a respectful relationship with each of the girls.  I asked Papa to take the girls to the park for awhile this weekend and took a nap.  And I try to keep interesting activities available to them that don't need a lot of adult interaction.
 Camille planted this strange plant collection.
 

 And we admired Sylvia's plants that grew from the seeds that she put into soil about a month ago.  The sensitive plant is a lot of fun because it instantly closes its leaves up tight when touched or even when a breeze disturbs it.

 Sylvia and I often watch nature documentaries in the evening as we're winding down in bed.  She loves these and often has a running commentary along the lines of... "What does 'occurs' mean?  That slightly bigger ant must be the mama one.  I didn't know anteaters had tails.  If I was a leaf-cutter ant and a predator was after me and I was carrying a leaf, I would just hide under the leaf.  Smart, huh, Mama?  I know what 'benefit' means, it's like a concert to raise money.  I just saw a shell that looked like the crest on a corythosaurus.  (She loves dinos.)  I know ants can carry, like, 10 times their own size.  Oh, that light green is so pretty, and if a predator was after it, that iguana could blend in with the trees."  This, with hardly a breath in between, (during Encounter Earth:  Rainforest) is typical and I've long ago decided that subtitles are indispensable if I actually want to know what the narrator is saying.

Half-asleep, irritation swelling, I decided to pay more attention, not less, not snapping, "please. be. quiet." just letting it wash over me, and perception shifted.  I am lucky to have this bright, energetic, intensely inquisitive girl sharing her every thought with me.  This won't always be the case.  It's these little moments (added up) that make up our shared lives.  

simple chores


 the wonder of milkweed seeds released into the wind 


 collecting

 playing
I can get occasional breaks, but this role of mama (especially home-educating mama) never stops, not for sleep-deprivation or grumpiness, so I try my best to be aware of my mood, to not spill it over, and when I occasionally do, to quickly apologize and move on to the next moment.

The more I pull away in irritation, the greater the neediness they express, the more irritable I feel . . . .

This cycle can be interrupted by moving closer, physically and emotionally, not as a martyr ("fine, I'll give even more than I have"), but as a seeker of awareness, of grace and gratitude.  I find that when I get a 2-year-old kissy for my effort, the strain is lessened and my mood really does start to melt away.

I'll get enough sleep again one of these days, and the girls are slowly, but steadily growing.  I will not have a 2, 5, and 9 year old forever.  Some day they will be 12, 15, and 19 and I will know that I didn't miss out on giving my best effort at nurturing a relationship that can withstand hard times and bad moods.

3 comments:

  1. Do you know I have been having exactly the same problems at mine too lately. On average I have been getting roughly 3 hours of interrupted sleep every night, now Tula is 6 months old and she has had an awful cold to boot.

    You're right, the trick I find too is not to withdraw from the endless chatter but to move closer in, even physically get closer and look at my girls close up so that the preciousness of them, their freckles and eyelashes pierce through that miasma of exhaustion, and that shift of consciousness can take place.

    I also truly think that it is (no matter how hard it can feel sometimes) totally beneficial for children to see the whole of your personality, and how you deal with negative feelings and moods teaches them how to accept their own fluctuations later on when they need to cope with hormonal changes and imbalances. I think kids who are brought up shielded from the full range of emotional life of their parents - even anger - grow up less equipped to cope with their own.

    Hope that helps! And you're so right, I keep telling myself the same thing - one day they will be so grown up and you will look back on these days as a time of joy and exploration: the world is still so new and vibrant to their young eyes.

    Phew, didn't intend to write a whole post in return!! Love & light xxxx

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  2. Yes, yes, and yes. I know what you mean.
    But I'm not nearly as patient you.

    I'm feeling very exhausted these days myself.

    Funny - Lu does the exact same thing - running commentary during documentaries. Now he keeps the keyboard on his lap so he can pause, but sometimes he's too excited to remember :) Inquisitive kids are awesome.

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  3. It's nice to know I'm not alone :) Thanks Chloe and Gabriela!

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