Sunday, March 22, 2009


Last night was awful. All week long, Joel has had restless sleep at night, getting up sometimes two, three times at night. Last night he got up seven times.

He's almost eight months old, people.

It's killing me, because I've worked hard to provide consistent naps and regular feedings. We've tried solids. Formula. Breast milk from the tap. Breast milk from the bottle. Keeping him up later. Putting him to bed earlier. It doesn't matter.

He just gets himself uncomfortable and cries and cries. So much so that I suspect we're dealing with another ear infection or saber-tooth-tiger fangs cutting through.

Since we're at my in-laws for the weekend, we were in the same room with him, so we both laid awake in bed, listening to him whine/cry/sob/grunt. Then, Paul said, "That's it, we're letting him cry it out. I'm going upstairs."

I didn't follow him, because I just wasn't sure why he was having a hard time, and I didn't want to leave him alone in the event that his crying was due to illness or injury. So, I stayed and got progressively angrier and more frustrated.

By morning, this was all Paul's fault. Naturally.

I'll spare you the details, just understand that Paul and I made up.

Then, something magical happened. My mother-in-law is a nice person, and I think we have a good relationship. However, I've always put my positive face on in front of her. She's Not My Mom, so I've always attempted to appear in control, and happy around her. I'm treating her son right. I'm treating her grandsons right. I'm not that daughter-in-law.

By doing this, I created a boundary. I never allowed her to take care of me, and by doing so, I kept my distance. I don't know if this is out of loyalty to my family of origin, or my own weirdness.

That changed today. I was sitting at the kitchen table and I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do with Joel."

She didn't say anything, but just let me continue talking. "I mean, I'm trying so hard to do the right thing, but I'm just so tired and I'm such a bitch all the time and..." and then, I started crying.

And I kept crying. Snotty, unable-to-get-full-sentences out crying. "I'm so tired of this. I don't want to have any more babies. This is so hard."

She just listened, and patted my head, and said exactly the right thing, "You don't owe anybody anything. You can be all done. I know it's hard. I know."

Joel may have an awful night again tonight, but a small miracle occurred nevertheless. I let down my guard with my mother-in-law for the first time in twelve years. I let her take care of me.

At a kitchen table in Virginia, grace came. That's why Joel didn't sleep through the night.

Sometimes you need to be broken in order to be fixed.


Alice said...

Not only did your mother in law give you a beautiful gift, you gave her a wonderful gift as well!

If it's any consolation, we had many nights like yours, but I believe our sons are now sleeping through the night. :-)

Rich said...

What a moment of grace, Nancy! I'm teary-eyed. -Dawn

Coby said...

I totally cried reading this. It really won't be like this forever. That's what I tell myself, anyway! I'm beginning to think you and I may have been separated at birth. YOU are the one reading MY mind!