As a mother, I am at my worst in the middle of the night. There's no such thing as the time of day when I'm as patient as I would like to be, but this is generally mitigated by my genuine desire to be a good parent when I'm fully cognizant. Not so at 2a.m.
Last night, for the second night in a row, Gabriel woke up and cried, keeping me awake for well over an hour. Now that it's over with and I've gotten on with my day, I can see quite clearly that last night's episode would have been much shorter and less unpleasant if I had been able to pull myself entirely out of my dreams and into the business of being a mom. However. Last night was the second night in a row. I was angry as soon as I felt myself being pulled into consciousness.
What? Shhhh. Go back to sleep honey, it's okay. Hush now. What's the matter? Shhh. You need to go to sleep. It's the middle of the night. Go back to bed okay? What's wrong? Why are you crying? Go back to sleep. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? NOTHING. Nothing is wrong. You need to lie down. Your diaper's clean, you're warm, you're well fed, you can sleep wherever you goddamn please would you JUST SHUT UP?!? I have to wake up in 2 1/2 hours. Gabey I cannot do this right now. I don't get to take a nap in the middle of my day. What do you want? What do you want me to do? What do you want from me? Whatever you want you can have it. Words. Use words. Pick a word and use it. Just please. I need to go to sleep. You need to go to sleep. Actually I don't care if you go to sleep, but for the love of all that is holy, please stop. Stop screaming. I'm done with you! I'm sleeping on the couch! I don't care. No, I don't want to hold you. I want to be left alone. Leave me alone. Lie down. Be quiet. Oh fine I'll hold you but only if you'll calm down. There. I'm up. I'm holding you. What do you want from me. No you can't have juice. You can have water. I don't care. No I WON'T turn the light on. It's the middle of the damn night. WHY ARE YOU CRYING??? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG. I'm really sorry, I love you, but I CANNOT be nice to you if you're going to scream in the middle of the night. You're making me really, really mad. Sweet Jesus could you just. calm. down. GABRIEL. Stoppit. Please. Fine. Here. I'll get up. You want me to get up? I'm up. Are you happy? No. You're crying. And I'm up. What am I doing out of bed if you're just going to keep with your screaming? I can't comfort you right now I'm too mad. Just give me a minute. For fuck's sake it's 3am. What do you want from me? Could you please lie down and go to bed?At some point, and having absolutely nothing to do with me and my sub-par midnight parenting, we did both get back to bed. I woke up this morning in a fog of exhaustion and guilt. How could I be so mean to my baby? He probably just had a bad dream or something. If I had just got up and gotten out of bed as soon as he had woken up, we probably wouldn't have lost more than 10 minutes sleep. I need to be more sensitive, or more loving.
But I can't. I don't have the patience. I don't know how to be kind in the middle of the night. I need to sleep.