I got angry tonight at Maeve. After it was over, she finally fell asleep in my arms, and I gazed down at her. She was lying with her head thrown back, and her tiny, delicate neck was resting in the crook of my elbow. Her body was wrapped, cocoon-like, in her swaddling blanket. Her little head was so dark, so fuzzy, and her long, long eyelashes lay perfectly straight on her smooth, alabaster cheek.
I felt a surge of love and monumental guilt and horror, that only ten minutes earlier, I had plunked her down in the middle of a blanket, literally thrown a collection of toys (which included a lemon squeezer, a beer coolie, a hair ribbon, and a rubber shoe) into her lap, and sulked onto a nearby couch, feeling sorry for myself. At that moment it had been 8:35, and of the preceding hour and 34 minutes Maeve had spent 49 of them asleep in my arms, unwilling to let go of my nipple, while I paced around the darkened bedroom.
Perhaps it's her newly growing teeth. More likely, it's the fact that I've let her nurse to sleep every time she's fallen asleep in her entire life and I walk around while she nurses to knock her out a little faster. Sometimes my own methods come around and kick me in the ass. Like when we're on vacation, which we are right now, and she's feeling a little out of sorts and just thinks to herself it might be best to do all the sleeping she can on a walking, nursing mother. And that's when I think longingly of all the mothers I know who have the good sense to train their babies like bears in the circus to fall asleep in their little beds all on their own.
I am not one of those mothers, and usually my coddling methods do work, to a degree. My children do have routines, and bedtimes, and the babies do sleep, even though they are allowed to be completely dependent on me to do so. But there are nights, like tonight, where I pace around, unable to complete the bedtime, growling: You did this to yourself, you did this to yourself.
At these moments, it seems I am forgetting the precious little life in my arms, and the fleeting moments I have left to pace with only 16 pounds of her in my arms. This is why I haven't sleep trained her, it's why I don't want to. She's my little pumpkin pie, my snugglebunny, the littlest person I have right now. She's a baby who was programmed and made to be completely dependent on me, and I've let her stay this way because I think it's the best way I can be a mother. I love holding her, and coddling her to sleep on most nights. I figure as long as the nights where things are working for us outnumber the ones where I'm dropping f-bombs under my breath, we're doing okay.
So as I laid her gently down onto the bed we share, I kissed her silken cheek and murmured words of apology into her little seashell ear. I hadn't meant to feel angry towards her. It isn't her fault. But I am a human being like any other, and the best I can do is to admit my mistake and apologize. In a little while I'll go in and join her, I'll wrap myself around her tiny being and pull the covers up over both of us. Hopefully we'll sleep together soundly for a few hours before she stirs to nurse, or maybe it will be a matter of minutes. But I've had my moment for tonight, and gratitude has returned to put my in my place.