Tuesday, March 16, 2010
thoughts on one year later
one year later. i knew things would be different, but i didn't realize just how profound of a change living with leon would be.
i expected sleepless nights. crying. spit up and worse. messy diapers. breastfeeding challenges. lots of laundry. lots of tears (and laughter). i thought i had prepared myself for the worst. the worst didn't happen, but barring illness and death (the absolute worst), it has been tough, tough going.
i keep telling myself there's no way i could have anticipated a such an intense baby with a fiery temper. a friend confessed he couldn't handle leon's cries. they were driving him insane with their relentlessness. there has been no routine, no schedule, no consistency. we have a loose framework for the day, but there's little guarantee that leon will follow it. usually 2-3 meltdowns a day.
for the most part he's a happy, active, outgoing baby in public. sometimes i doubt my perception of our situation. sometimes i think i'm the one with the problem. that my expectations are too high, that my attitude is overwhelmingly negative. i'm riddled with inconsistencies, uncertainties, hesitation.
one year later, and i'm still bewildered and exhausted. there are moments of pure delight, but they're weighed down by my fear of meltdowns, fear of my reaction to them.
i need to hire a nanny so i can have a couple of hours every other day to myself. but i'm resistant to the idea. money is tight now because i didn't finish my dissertation on schedule. plus, this is my baby. i've been with him 20 hours every day for the past 12 months. it's hard to give up control, hard to trust someone else.
i need to let him cry himself to sleep. i know now that he's capable of falling asleep in 10 minutes or less (usually less than a minute), and sleeping longer stretches (3-4 hours), but i'm resistant to this, also. what if he's afraid? what if he thinks i've abandoned him? he's more clingy during the days, reluctant to be more than 4 feet from me. i need space, but i can't stop myself from holding him close. he's growing so quickly, becoming such a boy, and i know i'll have to let him be more independent soon.
i need to get ready for weaning. leon nurses for comfort. he is a picky eater, which has led to thrice-daily battles in the kitchen. matthew thinks that if i wean leon, he'll have no choice but to eat more solid food. i'm reluctant to force this on him. of all the things that give leon joy, i can see that breastfeeding is his favorite activities. he laughs and smiles and curls up against me as if we were made for each other. the hard work of the first 9 months finally paid off. it gives him comfort and makes him feel safe. when he's trying to sleep, it helps soothe him. as much as i need more mobility, more flexibility, more time away from him, i'm reluctant to take this away from him.
my instincts tell me to stay attached, stay close. but not working on my dissertation has become an untenable situation. as much as i adore him, as much as i feel the need to be in control, i need to respect myself as an academic, too. it has been tough going. we've lived like a triage unit for so long, it's the only normal i can envision. i'm not ready to commit to something different, but it looks like i'm going to have to anyway.