The Day I Didn’t Hold My Son

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

Sometimes I feel like that saying rings true even with my own kids.

I love my boys more than I could ever express, but sometimes I just see hear a little bit too much of them. I need time alone to recharge, and sometimes it feels like that time should last a week.

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of me returning to work part time. While figuring out hours and making sure my boys are well cared for are my main hindrances, I think about all the positives that come along with me leaving the house for a few hours a week. Aside from the small amount of extra income, I think about the time that I would be away from my family. A small part of me grows sad thinking about it, because I’m so used to being with them day in and day out. Yet, I imagine that the distance apart would make the times together that much more special.

Almost anyone who is a stay at home parent, especially to more than one kid, knows that breaks are few and far between. When I had just Joshua, his naps were moments of freedoms for me, time to regain sanity and accomplish some chores, do some schoolwork or just have a cup of coffee in peace. With two, nap times are rarely at the same time (if Joshua takes a nap at all), no matter how much I plan out the day.

This moment was so rare that I had to take a picture of it.

It isn’t uncommon for me it have to fold laundry without one of the boys “helping” or make dinner while begging Joshua to get out of our teeny kitchen.

What was once a mindless chore for me to enjoy (yes, enjoy) in peace and quiet, often turns into a battle where I feel like I’m losing my mind if I don’t remember to practice patience.

Today was one of those days. I put the boys down for a nap at the same time. We had spent some time in the heat outside, jumped and danced around with Joshua, and counting how many hours they had been awake, I was sure they would both sleep indefinitely.

Joshua never slept. Ethan took a nap that was half as long as normal.

I was tired as it was from cleaning different parts of the house all day and even more frustrated by this lack of quiet time. I brought the boys downstairs while I finished folding laundry. Ethan has this thing where he doesn’t cry, he screams. And it’s the perfect pitch to shatter my ear drum. So I listened to that while I tried to finish my chores.

Eventually, we got to a peaceful enough point when dinner was almost finished where I made an alphabet tracer for Joshua with a $3 chalkboard from Target and chalk paint.

He’s writing in his own H. I think it’s his favorite letter. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every moment was like that? Would I value more time with them like that if I was away from them more?

The truth is, it’s easy to get annoyed when I’m trying to finish up dishes and Ethan is screaming bloody murder from the high chair, begging to be held. It’s almost easy to stay annoyed for the rest of the day at my tired baby, because I know that if he would have had a normal nap, he wouldn’t have been tired at this time.

But at the end of the day, I look back and wonder if I should have held him more, regardless of how I felt or what needed to be done.

See, back when he was in the hospital in January, during his first day in the PICU, I wasn’t able to hold him. I had asked the nurses, but from what I understood, they didn’t want compromise with all the wires and machines that they had hooked him up to. I felt so helpless, watching my sleeping, helpless, frail baby fight for his life. As his mother, my innate job was to give him life and I could not do a single thing about his condition at that time.

It sucked.

The next day, the nurse on shift encouraged me to hold my baby boy. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. It was the sweetest feeling in the world.

This was such a wonderful moment for me. I held him for what felt like forever.

So, on a day like today, when I imagine how good it would be to get out of the house, away from my screaming boys, I find it important to remember that there was a day when I couldn’t hold my baby. I hold on to Ethan extra long at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and stroke his sweet face and hold to his little hand. I want to savor every part of him, in the moments when I can. Whether I’m at home all day or work full time outside of the house, I want to take advantage of the time I have with my boys because I do not want to imagine another day where I long to hold my baby but cannot.

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Ramblings of a Tired Mom

I am a stay at home mother of two. Joshua is 2 1/2 and is the sweetest, most loving and hilarious boy I know, and Ethan is my handsome, smiley 3 month old.

I adore my boys. I thank God for these wonderful treasures. But, we’re all human in this house, so our days, even the really good ones, are never perfect.

None of this makes me special or even gives me a reason to blog (does the world really need another mommy blog?), but my thoughts over this past week were enough reason to get this all out in writing.

Let me start with this: I am tired. Over the weekend, I suddenly got mastitis, and while I’m on antibiotics for it, I couldn’t quite get all of the prescribed rest I needed. While Ethan is an overall happy baby, he isn’t the easiest to put to sleep, and his waking schedule overnight is off the wall. A few weeks ago, he was getting into 6-7 hour stretches, and I sang my praises to the Lord. And then, without any notice, he went back to waking every 3 hours (though the other night, when I was the most exhausted, he chose to wake up every 2 hours, like clockwork). Maybe this is normal, I don’t know. To be honest, these things didn’t affect me so much when Joshua was a baby. It was just me and him all day, and if the dishes or laundry didn’t get done one day, it didn’t really matter. But now, I have a toddler whose life also depends on me and my doing things around the house. While he is very good and usually independent, it’s exhausting to have to keep up with him and a demanding baby who doesn’t have the whole “sleep” thing nailed down yet.

Everything became too much for me to handle the other day and I lost it. It was so bad that I, someone who finds it extremely difficult to ask for help, asked my mom to come from work. I left Joshua playing by himself and Ethan crying screaming on my bed while I sat in the hallway and wept. I had a dozen things that had to get done and he had not taken one decent nap all day. I knew he was well fed and clean and plain tired, and I would rock him to sleep, but every time I would put him down, he’d wake up crying and unable to be soothed. I felt like a horrible mother for not being tender and loving to my precious boy and holding him for as long as he needed and instead simply listened to his screams from the next room.

All the articles on Pinterest that I’ve ever read while nursing him flooded back to me – the ones about why you shouldn’t let a baby cry it out, about how to get your 6 week old to sleep through the night, and other ones like it. While he eventually fell asleep for a couple of hours, I couldn’t shake the guilt. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that it hit me that I’m sure that my mom didn’t pick me up with my first whimper and wasn’t holding me all the time, considering she had a toddler and pre-schooler to tend to. I might be biased, but I think I turned out OK. I’ve always felt secure next to my mom, don’t think I suffered any brain damage from crying as an infant, and have no recollection on if she left me in the crib alone for twenty minutes because my brothers needed some lunch.

It was in that moment that I realized that it’s OK to not always be holding my baby (and my back knows it!) or to leave him crying in a safe place for a bit if I cannot tend to him in the moment, whether emotionally or physically. He’s going to be OK. And in a little while, I’ll be OK too.

This is why I write. For that mom who maybe needs to know that another mom has been there. To be raw and honest in a world where it’s so easy to put on a mask of perfection. To show that it is OK to not always have it all together.