I love my daughter. I do. I really REALLY do.
But, my friends, I’m about at my wits end.
My daughter is beautiful. She is vibrant, fun and so very loving. I truly am enjoying being a stay at home momma of two. However, I have a slight hang up with the way that things are at the moment. While my little guy, Jerry, was sometimes hard to read and not the most forthcoming with how he was feeling at the moment, my daughter is the opposite. This isn’t always a bad thing. She tends to let you know how she feels about everything, and is extremely interactive. Where Jerry may have simply given you a smile, Clara will fill in the blanks with coo’s and delighted squeals – or shrill screams or wails. She is quick to let you know whether she approves or not and is much more social than Jerry was at 6 months. By social, I mean that sometimes she tends to want to be held. A lot. And often. This has been a challenge as Rob and I attempt to figure her out and learn her and love her through what are some bad habits she has developed. Which is the topic at hand in today’s entry.
I’ve (almost) gotten past jumping and stirring at every cry my little girl makes. Part of this took will, part of this some learning on my part as I try to decipher which cry means and the other part took me just having to let her get over herself. Clara is stubborn. Yes, even at 6 months old (and even younger, mind you) little ones can allow you catch a glimpse of their budding personalities. I’ve gotten a peak at this personality from my daughter in spades. My darling June Bug doesn’t like to take a bottle. Or solid food. She exclusively wants mommy and mommy’s, um, let’s say goodness. While I’m a proponent of breastfeeding your baby, I’m not someone who appreciates a 6 month old hanging off of her every three hours. Or a 6 month old refusing her cereal and bottle. Or a 6 month old up at ALL HOURS during the night.
I thought I would be done feeding Clara by now. I have nursed her full time much longer than I was able to nurse Jerry and am very pleased to have done so. Plus, I was able to produce and store a great bit of my milk while she was young. “She will be set for YEARS!!” I thought to myself. OK, not years, but certainly enough to get her well past 6 months once solid foods were introduced. Apparently, Clara has other ideas. She has decided that mommy is the way to go, and that is that. I say, when I wake up for the third time in one night and see the clock reading 3:36 a.m., that I’m over this
torture special bond she has formed. Figuratively and oh- so-very literally. This has been a test. It has been a challenge. Interrupted sleep isn’t good for anyone, and considering my little darling has been around for 6 months, and taking into account the fact that you really don’t get decent sleep during the last few months of your pregnancy anyway, I think it is safe to say that it has been since at least last spring that I have had truly deep, uninterrupted sleep.
So, what can I do?
I’ve tried a lot of different things. Breast milk in a bottle, formula, cereals, fruits and veggies. I’ve just recently bought a sippy cup and plan on working to introduce that to her soon. My little girl has a taste for something, and darn it, I’m going to find out what it is so that we can end this madness. It has been a slight concern that she wouldn’t get the nutrition she needs from me as she has grown, but our latest doctor’s appointment says that for now, she is a growing healthy and LONG baby girl. But it hasn’t been just the concerns for her health that are daunting. On top of worry, I grapple with the fact that any time out to myself means that I need to watch the clock and be back in time to feed Clara. My sleep is interrupted. My meals are interrupted. Everything is interrupted for my little girl. I range from between desperation for sleep and a break at times to sheer frustration and anger. It’s like having a perpetual newborn.
I know that this isn’t the worst problem that a mommy can have. My little girl is healthy, thank God. But, man, this is still a problem. I’m trying to accept the place that God has me in. My little girl was given as a blessing to Rob and I to care for. And I know that I need to learn to let go to the ideas that I have of what a newborn should be like. I need to learn to trust God and what plans he may have in store for Clara and I. I’m trying to lean not on my own understanding and to trust in God and His goodness, and allow him to sustain me when I want to throw something across the room or cry at the foot of my bed at 4 in the morning while I’m sitting there, feeding her.
I want to be a Paul this year. To be content in plenty and in want. Not just content with how things are, but to truly look at what I have and rest in them. To have perseverance. I’m trying.
The verse of the day is one that is often quoted. Sometimes, it has made my stomach turn because I think it is very overused and often casually. While it is beautiful and something to hold on to, I feel as though people sometimes loose the meaning of it. They use it as sort of like a self help line that means that if you reach for it and try hard enough, you can accomplish anything. While it’s beautiful meaning becomes lost in the fray.
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;
in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry,
both of having abundance and suffering need.
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I cannot do this on my own. I cannot love my daughter enough, parent and nurture my children despite exhaustion, be a good wife and helpmate to my husband or accomplish everything I must do in a day, all while keeping a joyful spirit on my own. In fact, I can’t do any one of those things well enough, on my own and completely unless I rest in being content with my circumstances. Not just by acknowledging my circumstances, but by content with them. At peace. Longing for nothing more. This isn’t an “Ashley can do it!” motivational speech. This is good news, sharing how by giving up our own efforts we can overcome our fears, anxieties, failures and grievances by trusting that God has everything under control. That it is God who decides who we are and where we are at any given moment. And that nothing apart from His intentions are anything that we need to be concerned about. He intends that we have life, and that we have it abundantly.
So maybe the next time that I’m sitting on the foot of my bed, cursing the sun, moon and stars I will remember this. While I’m trying to hurry along the next situation that arises, I can let go. And maybe, while you’re dealing with your own strife and confusion, you can remember this to. It isn’t up to us to solve anything, fix or replace something or change our circumstances. We must trust.