We had a good evening followed by a rough night last night.* I'd just drifted off to sleep when I awoke with a start to Maddie screaming. I dashed in to her room; she sounded terrified. She was thrashing around in her crib. I reached in to pick her up.
"NO! NO MAMA TOUCH ME!" she screeched.
"Maddie, I want to help you!" I wailed, hurt, scared, and confused.
"I WANNA DO IT BY SELF!"
"Do what?" I thought, and then figured out that she probably wasn't fully awake. I tried to give her some water, her binky, her duck, her blankie. She just thrashed and wailed.
"What's wrong, Mads? How can I help you? What do you need?"
Thrash. Scream. "NO MAMA!"
"MADDIE! I WANT TO HELP YOU!" I yelled, the guilt for yelling kicking in as the words came out of my mouth.
Of course, my payback is that between Maddie's screaming and my yelling, we woke up Riley. Who began to wail.
So I began to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle." Riley calmed down. Maddie continued to freak out. I finally pulled her out of her crib despite her protests and did the newborn-baby sway with her while I sang "Twinkle" on endless loop. She finally stopped crying, but she never really wanted me to hold her, and eventually demanded that I put her back to bed. Which I did. And I kissed her, and kissed Riley, and sang one more round of our favorite song about a star, and then I went to bed and cried and felt awful. Was she having a night terror? Was she aware of what was going on? Was she actually afraid of me or mad at me? Every time I'd yelled at her flashed through my mind, every time I'd been less than kind.
I finally drifted off to sleep, but woke up to Riley crying at 4:45 a.m. I went and and settled him easily with more singing and a kiss, and left the room hopeful that he'd sleep a bit more. No dice. The kid was up for the day. At 4:45. At least he was happy to chat with himself until 5:30. When he woke up Maddie. They proceeded to antagonize each other while I got my shower and finally got them out of bed, figuring that any more sleep for us was a lost cause.
Needless to say, I was not in the best of moods during our morning time. I tried, I really did. And some of the time, I succeeded. Some of the time, I failed. I raised my voice a few times. I get so tired of doing the dance of yelling, feeling guilty, apologizing, and repeating it all. It's such a trap.
The incident with Maddie scared me. I keep telling myself she was not really awake. But was she? Is she scared of me? Have I yelled that much? I don't think so, but where did that reaction come from? I carry so much anger around all the time—I'm still working on healthy ways to get that out—and Maddie is so sensitive. Maybe she feels that anger even when it's bottled up inside me? Or maybe I'm just overanalyzing the whole situation.
I yelled at a lot of cars on the way to work, just to get out some of the negativity that I could feel festering inside me. When I got to work, there was a woman walking into my building holding a baby that looked just like John. I would guess that the boy was around 15 months old. He looked over his mom's shoulder at me with these wise, dark eyes, and I started to cry. I had to go into the first-floor bathroom to pull myself together before I walked up the two flights of stairs to my office.
Emotions are just oozing out of me today. Any opening they see, they take. I feel edgy, angry, sad. I want to go scoop up Maddie and Riley, bake cookies with them, read them stories, hold them close and keep them warm. I want them to feel the love I have for them, not the anger I have about things in my life that have nothing to do with them. I want to stop beating myself up emotionally and taking things out on my kids. My frustrations about my work and the holidays, not to mention my ongoing grief process, have nothing to do with the kids. I want to work on keeping the parenting issues and those other issues separate, even if to do so is a somewhat artificial construct.
I've written in the past about being resistant to taking an antidepressant. I still am. I hate to ask for any kind of help, and taking medication falls into that category for me. But as I muddle through things and as I read blogs of people who struggle with depression, I sometimes wonder if I've got more than some passing sadness. I know that taking an antidepressant doesn't suddenly make the heavens open and angels sing, but my understanding is that the right medication at the right dose can help make day-to-day difficulties a little easier to manage. Is that right? What am I so afraid of? I've known people who are afraid to be happy. I don't think that's me. But maybe there is a bit of me that's just a little afraid of being really, truly, fully happy without John. It's crazy, I know it is, but it's possible.
Totally unrelated, but on happy note: Riley decided that he wanted to wear underwear today! I offer every morning, and every morning he chooses his beloved "diapey." But today he chose undies. He looked so freakin' cute in his Gymboree football briefs! It was seriously cute overload. And he was dry from when I put them on at 7:30 until I dropped him off at daycare at 9:00. I foresee a lot of accidents and changes of clothes in our future before this job is done, but that's OK. I'm just so proud of him for wanting to try it out. Riley takes a long time to come around to new things, so just being willing to put the underwear on is a huge step for him. Go, Ri-Man!
*My Favorite Anon(tm): Get ready to have a heyday with this story. I can't wait to see what kind of juicy pop-psychoanalysis and idle threats you have after reading this. Bring it on!