It’s been a stressful week. Ian has been under extreme stress at work. We’ve all been ill. And then, last Tuesday, at 14 months and twelve days old, Thomas decided that he no longer needs any daytime naps.
Tuesday was also my birthday.
It started out well enough. With the pressure at work there was no chance of Ian taking the day off, but we had a nice dinner planned. I took Thomas to his usual music class in the morning and then had coffee and (birthday) muffins with NCT friends. I fed Thomas his lunch whilst we were out and then we headed home in time for his nap.
Except, Thomas had other ideas.
What ensued was a four hour battle of wills with many tears on both our parts.
If I’m honest, I couldn’t handle it, that day in particular, because it was my birthday. I suppose disappointment comes from unmet expectations, but I’ll admit that I’d been imagining him taking a good lunchtime nap, as he has done more often than not in the last week or so, and time for me to settle on the sofa with one of the DVD box sets I was given for my birthday, a nice big cup of tea and some chocolate. What I got instead was an overtired, grumpy, snotty toddler, who wanted constant contact, more breast feeds than a newborn and absolutely not a second of attention diverted anywhere but on him.
Selfish as it may be, I just wanted some space. I wanted five minutes where I could hear my own thoughts in my head. I wouldn’t have minded cuddles, but didn’t really want a kicking, writhing bundle of tear stained child attached to me limpet style.
I tried every trick going to get him to nap. Rocking him, singing to him, breast feeding him. I even left him to cry when I knew he was really over-tired and needed it. I may possibly (ahem) have even mislaid the baby monitor for ten minutes at this point. But as he got more angry, I got more frustrated and we ended up going around in circles. I know that I wasn’t helping the issue, by being anything but calm, patient and rational.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I actually shouted. At the point that he was lying on the floor kicking his legs and banging his head and fists, I told him to go ahead and have a temper tantrum and that I might just lie down and have one too.
Patience; Have I ever mentioned that it’s not my strong point? I suppose in the end we were more like two toddlers than mother and son. (If you want to judge me, go ahead, but only when you have dealt with a child who will not sleep, and fights the sleep their body is desperately telling them to have, over and over and over again for 14 straight months.)
It was far from how I’d imagined my birthday to be. Between the frustration and tiredness, and the guilt and shame at my inability to deal with it without raising my voice at a baby who really doesn’t understand and was not deliberately trying to wind me up (no matter how much I may have believed that in the heat of the moment) it ranks as one of my worst, if I’m honest. And poor Ian bore the brunt of it all, with a string of text messages from me about how he wouldn’t sleep, and finally a plea at around 5pm to come home early because there was no way I could face bath time and bed time with such a sleep deprived boy on my own. I may also have said how he was never going to go to sleep now, we’d be up and down the stairs all night and so much for a nice birthday meal, or words to that effect.
Ian did indeed come home early. He took Thomas from me and somehow managed to get through bath time without too many tears and get the boy to sleep in his cot without any screaming at all. Which all just made me feel worse for completely failing for the whole afternoon, when Ian made it look so easy.
Despite my predictions of doom, we also managed to salvage a good evening, with cheese fondue, candlelight, some bubbly stuff and DVDs in front of the fire.
I went to work on Wednesday, but the naptime battles recommenced on Thursday. But at least it wasn’t my birthday again.