Something has happened over the past week. Ethan has stopped sleeping. No one flinches when I say this because he has never truly slept like other people's children. Sleeping is an ordeal, a song and dance I've had to learn to perfect through sound machines and specific lullabies and the hum of an air purifier that simply can't be turned down or off. When he was six months old, Ethan willingly dropped himself down to one nap per day, no longer needing that extra sleep that other children seemed to need. These days, naps are a luxury or a rarity at best and together Ethan and I have learned to adapt, learned to stretch our days and change our routines and mend our end of the day schedules accordingly. But not this week. This week those two hours in the middle of the afternoon we've learned to designate for quiet time in lieu of sleeping on most days have turned into hours of tears and screams and an upset toddler who wishes to spend the bulk of his time in a downward dog position -- his way to demonstrate that he's mid-tantrum. Bedtime has been no better. There are nights I've lost count after sixteen in terms of times I've had to go into Ethan's room to lay him back down.
I can't blame him. I've felt the same way and despite my greatest attempts to mask the down and out way I've found myself feeling this week -- fresh, organic strawberry ice-cream for lunch after picking our own strawberries at the farm and feeding the goats and fish and donkey after a play-packed hour of fun at My Gym -- I can't help but feel burdened with mom guilt that Ethan can somehow see through my smiles.
There is a song I used to love back in the days of plaid skirts with thick leather buckles, the days of tattered jeans and walking around with my Discman on full volume. Everything to Everyone, the old Everclear song. I've had it in my head the last couple of days in particular, ashamedly finding relevance in the fact I've always tried so hard to be everything to everyone, to do what everyone wants me to do instead of what I want to do, to be seven thousand places at once without any effort. I've realized this week that this isn't possible and what I should be doing, instead of trying to please everyone else, is stopping this process of beating myself up for my flaws and imperfections and inability to be completely immortal and just try to focus on the day by day. To breathe in deeply when it's almost 9:00 at night and I seek refuge from the screams coming from the baby monitor for long enough to call my husband and he's still at work and can't understand why I seem to be mad at him despite the fact I'm just frustrated and overwhelmed and mad at the feeling of being alone and the house is a mess and my suitcases are still packed and there's cat pee in my shoes and oh, goodbye, I have to go lay Ethan back down again.
It's been a difficult few days which is strange in the sense they've been good days -- fun days, even -- days holiday shopping and gift wrapping and choo-choo train riding with Ethan. It's simply that I haven't felt completely like myself and apparently neither has Ethan, or at least not at bedtime. I have been strapped for motivation and energy, feeling overwhelmed by tasks that have never before seemed so daunting. They happen, days like these, but I'm ready for them to be over. Ready to put one foot in front of the other and trudge through this muck of my own self-doubt and self-created guilt. And maybe, just maybe, Ethan will find the desire to sleep again.
If we're being honest here.