Okay. I am tired and frustrated, so I hope this isn’t too much venting. I just need a place for it. I’m struggling with Baby J’s anxiety about being apart from Uno. There are times when I feel rejected and then, worst of all, I feel mad at him. Yes, mature, I know. Sigh. It’s often when he’s tired or teething or who knows – say he wakes up early from his nap in a grumpy-as-hell mood. I go up, try and soothe him with all my calm-mama mojo. No way. He screams until he gets what he wants, which is a nice cuddle from Uno and a nurse. Or it’s more subtle, as in: I come into the room, he’s basically indifferent, Uno comes into the room, his face lights up with utter joy. She hands him to me, he fights and fusses. Caveat: he IS often happy to see me, especially when he’s hoping for a tickle. He does seek me out for comfort and attention when it’s just the two of us out in the world (at the park, at the grocery store). I take him for walks, I take care of him, I know he and Uno need me. But…
There IS a difference in how he responds to us. And sometimes, it hurts my feelings. And then, I don’t respond with kindness or patience to my family. And then, I feel guilty.
Tonight, we came home late from a big family dinner; baby J was overtired. We did our usual – I went to give him his bath, put him in pj’s, and read to him; Uno got ready for bed and for a long nursing session. However, he threw a huge screaming fit about the bath. He was doing the silent cry. Heaving sobs. Purple face. The silent cry! Good god. My blood pressure was rising. I gave him a speed bath and carted him upstairs still screaming. Tried to soothe him to no avail. Books? Forget about it. (Oddly, when he gets like this, as he has when we’ve tried night weaning, he does get furious if I put him down. So he wants me to hold him. But he screams and screams). Then she came in, he reached for her, stopped crying (whew, like magic), and started nursing like he was a dying man in the desert. I was super rattled. And I said something jerky when she asked me to give him a goodnight kiss.
It’s not his fault, not her fault – is it my fault? It’s no one’s fault. I don’t know. I DO know this laundry list: it’s developmental, it’s especially affected by her being the primary caregiver, it’s related to their strong nursing bond. I know that it helps when I spend focused, intentional time with him, particularly one-on-one. And, yes, I’m aware that my reaction affects him – i.e. my frustration about his response escalates the problem.
Uno and I have talked a lot about this and it’s hard on her, because she wants, of course, for me to feel confident in my parenting. Confident and equal, not competitive, not anxious. She also can’t change the biological facts, and she enjoys their nursing relationship, and it might very well be her last/only time to do it. Indeed, she works hard at it, and it’s not easy. I really want to support her. I have, I do. But in some sense – I’m just gonna admit it – I’m jealous. I feel helpless, unable to soothe him. I’m tired of him nursing at night. I hate being snappy and mean when I feel rejected by him. I want to keep my mouth shut instead of saying negative things to him or Uno.
It’s been harder since I started my second teaching job and am distracted and dealing with more work. I’m the first to acknowledge that. I need to work on how I handle stress: I have been, will continue to – I’m an anxious brain; it’s my cross to bear. Also, Uno’s mom is staying with us until she gets her own place set up (she’s moved here, another story), and the sharing of our space isn’t always easy. They’re home with baby J all day, so when I come back I feel even more disconnected. Finally, we’re all sleep deprived.
Well, there you have it. I’ve held back writing about this because I feel defensive. I don’t want to admit this is a problem. As I’ve said, it’s not a problem all the time; baby J and I do have an amazing, intense bond. Irrational as it may be, it feels like admitting that our baby prefers Uno negates that. I’ve also held back writing about this because it frankly feels so CLICHE. As in, I read about parenting dynamics in queer families. I’ve worked on my own fears. Analyzed them. Written about them. Shouldn’t I know how to deal with them?
Oh, sigh. I’ll probably password-protect this later. Thanks so much for listening.