Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Sleepless….once again

Being a working mother is hard. It’s draining and exhausting, but not in the physical way that comes with chasing an active toddler around. It’s mentally and emotionally draining. Take the mental exhaustion that comes with working all day and combine it with the emotional frustration of dealing with your child’s separation anxiety when you come home. Add a heaping portion of guilt and there you have it. The story of my life.

We are sleepless in my house once again. After several really good months in which my son was asleep before 7:30 pm and would not wake until the next morning, he has decided that he no longer wants to sleep alone in his crib. I’m attributing it to separation anxiety, but really who knows why he has suddenly changed his tune…

The first few weeks back at work were really not bad. My son would happily wave goodbye to me in the morning as I would leave the house and then proceed to spend the day having fun with his grandmother. Then, exhausted, he would sleep easily at night.

After about three weeks, the novelty of his new schedule wore off. Every so often, I would leave the house to the sight of him holding his arms out to me pleadingly. Once in awhile, he would start crying. A few more weeks and this became almost a daily occurrence. Now for the past week, I can’t put him in his crib at night without tears and tantrums. And the night waking has become a nightly occurrence.

When I was off work on maternity leave, I would stoically let him cry it out, thinking to myself that we could catch up on our sleep during a nap the next day. At least that I didn’t need to use too many brain cells in the morning, so if I was a bit sleep-deprived, it was okay. Now that I need to use my brain at work, I will do anything to get some sleep. This has resulted in him sleeping in our bed almost every night now. Trying to let him cry it out these days has not been successful. After 40 minutes of crying, we usually hit out limit and respond by going to him.

So let’s review the situation to date: mental exhaustion + separation anxiety = no sleep and lots of guilt. Which ultimately results in stress. Lots of stress.

Maybe I’m reading into things a bit too much, but I feel like this change has made my son angry at me. He has really started to cling to my husband more than before. Not that I mind that part, because it makes me happy to see him showing more love toward his father. But it almost feels like my husband is the more stable force in his life. He knows that daddy goes to work in the morning and comes home at night. That’s the way it’s always been and he can rely on that to stay the same. But mommy has changed and is no longer there for him the way she once was.

So in my guilt and desperate need for sleep, I let him sleep in our bed at night, something I’m not crazy about doing. I have nothing against co-sleeping… it’s just not something I want to do because I don’t sleep as well. But when he wakes up in the morning and gives me a big toothy grin, it makes me happy. And these days I cling to those moments because they’re much easier to handle than walking away from outstretched arms and tears.

It’s a vicious cycle and I can’t decide if I need to be firm and proactive about breaking the pattern, or if I should embrace my old mantra of “This too shall pass” and ride out the storm.

Any advice for a mama going through a rough patch? What has worked for you in the past?

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