So, welcome to another chronicle in my life and sojourn as a mother. I’ll jump right into it, shall I?
On a day when I was feeling great (and I mean, great!) fatigue, with some malaise thrown in there, I was still busy doing life and being a mum. Naturally. When I say “doing life”, I mean my own work (career), keeping my house sane (i.e. relatively tidy), and being a wife (thinking of things that pertain to my precious hubby). And then, yes, add to that catering to a very active and fun 8-month-old.
It was a pretty typical day except that, by evening time, this mama had had it. I love my baby, but my goodness, with exhaustion in the mix, I started to question the depths of that love. Anyway, #storytime. So, it was time for a feed and I sat her in her highchair, had warmed her food and was seated with a serviette handy, ready to catch any stray spills or drips that are typical when I’m dealing with her.
It turns out that by that point I also had a really worn out baby, so it really was a case of blind leading the blind. Why was she so worn out, you wonder? Yes, she’s active, we all know that. But on that day, as sometimes occurs, she thought better than to take her second nap of the day. I can sometimes survive if that happens, but that day was NOT the day for it to happen. I had needed her to take that nap. Guys, I’d been mentally planning around it, waiting for that afternoon drop off. The way I was feeling, the moment her eyes drooped and she was in her crib, I’d be in mine! That was the plan. Ladies and gents, things clearly did not go according to plan, and neither of us were pleased – one of us more justifiably so, can I just say.
As a result of being overtired, she was extra fussy and squirmy at dinner. Also, why in goodness was that the day I thought it best to serve her a baby food that was tomato-based and thus had a pretty deep red color? Why do they even make baby food in that color??? I’m still so mad, I could sue. #dramaqueen. But really, do they know how frustrated I’ve been at the amount of stains I’ve had to work out of her clothes and am still planning to do with regard to our carpet? Ok, breathe, breathe. Where were we? #storytime. A spoon of nice red goop would go in her mouth, and she would sway faaar to the left, then faaar to the right, with me having to use what “free” hand I had to try and stop her from making it out of the highchair each time. What’s the key word there? High. Apart from the swaying, she had this tendency to rub her eyes, oooh, I dunno, maybe because she was overtired. Problem was, in that state, she didn’t care what she rubbed. So her hands would surprise me by showing up on her face; she would then proceed to rub her eyes, mouth, forehead, hair…gosh! The red goop was going everywhere! Being the Nigerian that I am, I can’t lie that the thought “did they send you?” didn’t cross my mind a couple of times. If you’re not Nigerian, don’t stress yourself trying to get that. But, if I were a cartoon character, drawings of explosions or various symbols were the things flooding my brain. It was a great time to call upon the grace of God.
She was being herself, I know, but to me, I was getting mad because a part of me felt like she was being intentional with all this. Yup, you can guess that that was the irrational, tired part of me leading the way. She must’ve sensed my frustration (babies are smart like that), so she decided it was time to stop eating! This little madam was protesting?? No ma’am. At that point, the remaining rational and loving parts of me were about to jump out of the window. She refused the food and I kept coming at her with that spoon. She started fussing and crying, and I seized the opportunity of an open mouth to get food in there. Yup, mummies are smart like that. 😉 First time, it worked. The second time she was crying, which actually happened as a result of my yelling at her (I know, I’m a bad mom), she flat out refused to swallow the food I’d put in her mouth. Let me explain. The first time I’d done the food shoving thing, I actually felt bad. I really did. The second time though, nope. I can’t say I felt anything but exhaustion and frustration. But my heart eventually gave way as I saw my little one crying, looking at me with her mouth wide open and with food in her mouth. The look of betrayal though. 😦 I felt like the absolute worst. Terrible terrible terrible. Sigh. I immediately comforted her, speaking to her heart as I would anyone. Here’s what I said.
I told her that I was sooo sorry for being very impatient with her. I told her that I was aware of how tired she was, but that she did need to eat. I promised her that if she could just cooperate with me and eat, I would get her in bed before she knew it. I told her I’d do my utmost to give her what she needed – sleep. Would you believe it? It’s like she heard and understood me! My goodness, she took every spoon thereafter with zero pauses and we were done waaaaay faster than would’ve been the case. I kept my word.
When she was asleep, I had time to re-evaluate. To think of my life, as Nigerians would say. My respect for mothers of difficult, multiple or disabled kids grew a hundredfold. Here I was, struggling with one. How in the world do moms handle two or three (or more!) kiddos??? So, that’s one lesson. Second is that babies are absolutely human. She may not have understood the words I was saying, but she heard the heart behind it. I loved her and wanted to comfort her. That was enough for her. That’s two. Lastly, I learned about myself. That I’m not superhuman, I’m not supermom, and heck, that I’ll never be. Crazy enough, later as I lamented to other moms about how horrible I’d been to my baby, I was told over and over again: “oooh, believe me, this isn’t going to be the last time that that happens to you!” Hmmm. I didn’t know whether to cry or do a jig upon hearing those words.
Either way, I drew comfort in the truth that mums are only humans and are absolutely doing the best they can to have their kids fed and safely tucked into bed. For that, and that only, they need awards.
*I use the words “mum” and “mom” interchangeably because, well, I’m a kid who is a product of many cultures. Having lived and grown up in different continents, my only anchor is the knowledge that mu(o)ms are the best!