My Parenting. My Personality. My Frustration.

>> 8.27.2012

I called my parents to vent this morning about Ada's ever-continuing struggles with napping. See, she was deliriously tired and falling asleep in my arms an hour after waking this morning. It's usual for her to take a nap this early. Sort of routine, so I wasn't forcing sleep on her too soon.

However, the minute her tired little head hit the crib mattress: AWAKE. CRYING. SCREAMING. Usually, I could deal. But with my gig, I have a deadline each day. Today that meant listening to these cries while finishing up my work. Now that Stephen's returning to work for the school year, I need to find a better way to cope.

My mom assures me it's teething. Regardless, I knew she needed some rest, so I walked in frantic circles around the neighborhood hoping she'd settle for at least half an hour. No naps mean super-crank afternoons and -- far worse -- trouble sleeping at night.

We know this from (lots of) experience.

Anyway, during that conversation, my mom explained to me that when I was Ada's age, I had set nap times -- morning and afternoon. If I slept, I slept. If I didn't, too bad. But I was on a relatively strict schedule with eating, sleeping, playing, etc. It was for her own sanity. And for the most part, it worked.

(On a side note, my mom tells me that, as a baby, I was a lot like Ada. High needs. I've said a few times that I don't know how I'll be able to handle another child -- and she tell me she felt similarly. But then my brother was born and was completely relaxed and chill. Weird.)

I share certain characteristics with my mom. One of them is my desire to have control over situations. Or at least feel like I do on some fundamental level. I've mellowed out of necessity over the years, but as we chatted on the phone, I finally realized my biggest source of frustration over Ada's 9 months.

My desired parenting style is at odds with my personality. I'm trying desperately to let Ada call the shots because I've read that's what's best for her. Baby-led parenting, if you will. Trying is the key word, but I don't always do so well. Think about it: Nursing on-demand. Keenly attuning myself to sleep cues for nap times. Generally going with the flow -- each day's new and different -- because her needs change and shift like river currents.

But, let's be selfish for a moment, what's best for me?

Of course, I know I signed up for this whole mom-thing. I never expected it to be easy. But the number of times I've broken down because I've felt out of control are innumerable at this point. There have been many times, too, when I've questioned if I'm just doing it all wrong. Feelings of failure, sadness, and confusion nearly meet in number those of elation, joy, and confidence.

The first year is awesome, but rough.

During that 1-hour walk this morning, I think Ada may have slept a grand total of 15 minutes. I, on the other hand, was nearly falling asleep from a mixture of physical exertion (I walk like 13-minute miles with the BOB -- no joke, and no idea how!) and what almost felt like rage. Not directed at Ada. More at myself.

I keep asking myself: What can I do gain some control over my situation? You're probably expecting me to write "nothing" because, ultimately, Ada's needs aren't up to me to decide. But there's good news! I do feel there are some opportunities for me to shift my mind into a happier place. At least I am trying to stay positive and believe there are.

I started to write about the mental shift, but I have decided I am going to break this post down into a couple parts. (It was getting epic in length.) In short: I am trying my best to let go and follow Ada's lead. But I am also going to find points in our day where I can gain some confidence and, here's that word again, control.

It could be as simple as leaving the house more often. It could be as easy as trying my mom's napping strategy. But I'll write more another time. As you can see, my thoughts are in-progress. And also, as you can see, Ada is napping because I had enough time to type out a lengthy post.

Win! Party with the cats!

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