…about off days for mamas.

Growing up, I would always do my best to be “on” whenever I had a test at school. I wanted to be at my best so that I could nail that exam, so I would wake up a little earlier, take a little longer on my make-up, wear one of my favorite outfits to school, eat a well-balanced breakfast, and try to be extra nice to everyone, just to get karma on my side. Now, as a Mama, I find that I’m trying to be “on” in the same way, but this time, it’s for L’s sake – I just want to be at my best for him each and every day.

That’s why days like yesterday are so difficult for me – yesterday was a Mama “off” day, and I’m still upset about it.

Here’s the abbreviated version of our day yesterday: I had a rather tedious and lengthy assignment to work on for my Shakespeare course, and I spent four to five hours of time working on this assignment yesterday with little to no breaks. Before I started the project, I went to the library to pick up a few resources. I fed L before I left, and I readied a bottle of breast milk for Jord to feed the baby, just in case he got hungry while I was gone. When I came back home from the library, L was awake and was content spending time with his Daddy, so I dove right in to my assignment and started working.

Polar-Bear-Outfit

When L eventually grew fussy, Jord attempted to calm him, like good daddies do. But L needed something that he couldn’t provide – he needed his Mama. Jord realized this, and he asked me to take L. Here’s where my “off” day began: I was so focused on my assignment that I didn’t even stop to think about why L was crying, or that L was crying out for me, so I asked Jord to keep trying to soothe him so that I could keep working on my assignment. Of course, my dear husband tried his best to meet L’s needs, but Jord eventually grew a bit upset because he couldn’t fix L’s frustrations. As time wore on, L grew more upset as well – he wasn’t getting what he needed. Finally, in a moment that I am not proud of, I snapped at Jord to hand our son to me, and I stopped working on my assignment to hold L for a few minutes until he was calm.

Writing about our day now, with a night’s sleep of space from the situation, my actions don’t seem horrible, especially since I realize that every parent makes mistakes – every parent has off days. But I assure you, for this new Mama, I beat myself up over and over for this mistake for the rest of the day. Not realizing that L needed me, his Mama, just for quick snuggle (!!) made me feel like I failed him, like I prioritized a stupid (in the grand scheme of things) homework assignment above my child’s needs. I am his Mama – meeting his needs should be my chief priority! Nothing is more important to me than my son!

Once I realized the error of my ways, for the rest of our Saturday, I apologized countless times to my husband and to my son. I tried to give L extra cuddles and snuggles, and I told him again and again how long I wished for him, how much I love him, and how sorry I was for not understanding his need for me, his Mama. I haven’t been so angry at myself in a while, and I just wouldn’t, couldn’t let myself off the hook for letting down my son. Hello, Mama Guilt.

Lionel-Crib

But as I sit here writing to you all today, with my dear boy cuddled up to me, fast asleep, his little fingers moving every so often to grip my sweater a little tighter, I am grateful for the opportunity that a new day brings. Because for us mamas, off days never feel good – they never go down easily – but what makes us good mamas is that we keep trying, always, to be the best for our children. For me, especially after an off day like yesterday, I feel so grateful for the opportunity to work hard, each and every day, to be the best Mama that I can be to L.

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One Comment

  • Ok – I am not a ‘birth mother’ but I am an expert in puppies and dog development: this is what I have to say:
    1. In the 80’s and 90’s – breeders sought to provide their perfectly planned litters of puppies grew up stress free. What they got were neurotic dogs. Why? As it turns out, puppies and I (suspect humans) need to experience ‘stress’ at a young enough age to train their brains to accept and deal with it. Should a puppy grow up stress free then experience stress – their brains are no longer able to adjust and handle stress. This leads to neurotic behavior.

    Now, breeders on a daily basis will turn a puppy on its back and hold a cool wet wash cloth on its feet. When the puppy stops fighting the sensation the breeder removes the stimulus. Basically – teaching calmness in the face of adversity.

    I am willing to postulate that human babies will benefit from experiencing stress at an early age – learning to accept and adjust to less than perfect conditions.

    I believe you did Lionel a favor. Stop stressing – you are more bothered than he is!

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