I got home from work around 3am on Saturday morning which is a good night for us. I was up early the following morning to take Eliza on a short train ride to New Jersey to go apple picking with friends. I should have realized the day would be too much but I was free from work, it was a beautiful day and I wanted to enjoy my time with my girl.
It was a beautiful day but by the time we got back to New York, it was too late for Eliza to nap. C was gone on a business trip and I found myself completely void of anything resembling energy. When Eliza doesn't nap, she gets hyper. I popped in some videos but nothing worked. I counted down the hours until her bedtime.
Sunday was a better day. Perhaps realizing my limitations, I stayed close to home. We went to a nearby playground and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We both napped in the early afternoon and then I took her shopping for more fall clothes in the evening. It was a wonderful day and I felt rejuvinated enough for a jaunt to the Bronx Zoo the following day.
We had a fantastic day at the Bronx Zoo and I'm glad we went. There was trick-or-treating, hayrides, a hay maze and other Halloween-themed activities. Though we had a wonderful day, I found myself shrewish, impatient and exhausted for much of it. The Bronx Zoo is a long subway ride away and on the way home with a hyper toddler who again hadn't had a nap, I really contemplated hurling myself off the train in a place where no one would ever find me. Factor in C who sauntered in with his eldest daughter at 7:45pm just as I was trying to usher Eliza into bed, and you'll see how much fun I had that evening.
I vowed to have a better day the following but again I tried to do too much. Though we had a fun morning with a friend, Eliza again didn't nap. C showed up with his son who was exhausted after a long trip with his mother and I had two exhausted kids in my house. The evening passed smoothly enough with both kids going to bed early. On Wednesday, I dropped Eliza off at school determined to enjoy the day. I confess to spending most of the day lying in bed, trying to catch up on my sleep. I've had a nasty sinus infection since that day we went to the Zoo and haven't slept much because of it.
When I picked Eliza up at school, she was her typically happy, buoyant self. Thrilled to see she's adjusted to school so well, we set off for home where I stupidly prepared a too ambitious meal that she didn't eat. We still managed to have a nice evening and I put her to bed at her usual time.
She woke up sometime after nine, fussy, whiney and writhing. Exhausted myself, I simply brought her into bed with me. C wasn't home so I had the big bed to myself. Usually, taking Eliza into bed with me comforts her but this night it didn't. She kept writhing, crying, and gyrating around. Eliza had had a cold since she started school and I stupidly thought she was frustrated by an inability to sleep with her congested nose.
Except I know better. I know my daughter. She sleeps, even when she's crazy congested, she snores like a little old man. My daughter had an illness coming on and I, in my own, exhausted, oh I can't deal with this kid anymore way, did not see it.
Finally, I dumped her in her crib telling her that since she couldn't stop crying, I had to have some space. Nice Mama moment, right. This, of course, set off the horrific screaming of a devil-child. I flopped on my bed and nearly felt like I could sleep, even with the racket. It was close to midnight. I don't remember when I'd had a full night's sleep.
After a few minutes of letting her scream, I got out of bed and pounded the walls like a lunatic. I simply couldn't listen to that screaming anymore. All I wanted was to sleep, to get away from the screaming and the whiney, writhing child who would not let me comfort her. I'd always been able to soothe her in the past. Why couldn't I this night.
Suddenly realizing my daughter needed me and it was time to be a grown-up, I went to her crib to lift her out. Expecting some kind of scared, angry reaction I received just the opposite. Eliza threw her arms around me, moved in to kiss me like a love-struck heroine in a Greek tragedy. Realizing this was her way of apologizing, she was trying to let me know she was sorry for upsetting me so much I suddenly felt like I might split in two from the pain of knowing how wrong this reaction was.
My daughter needed me. And not only was I not there for her, I was angry with her. I sat in the rocking chair with her and explained to her that Mama was very, very wrong. She didn't need to feel badly for what she'd done, that Mama should have never, ever acted like that. I'm not sure how much she understood but she finally fell asleep in my arms. Finally, I was able to comfort my daughter who'd fought being soothed all night long.
Later that night, Eliza sprouted a monster fever. I brought her into the bed with me and C slept on the couch when he got home after midnight. Eliza couldn't really sleep because of the fever. I offered her Motrin but she threw it up. I continued to feel exhausted, sick, harried like I'd never felt harried before. But I made it through the night.
We saw Eliza doctor the next day who diagnosed a serious ear infection that had leak and could have ruptured had we not seen the doctor. Eliza spent most of the day crying, falling asleep for short periods, then waking up and crying. It was hard seeing her so lethargic. She'd insisted on wearing her red party dress and matching red shoes to the doctor. She looked so lovely, lying on the middle of my bed in her elegant dress. It was so hard to see her so out-of-sorts, so miserable, so clearly not herself.
Around 6pm the fever broke and my daughter was suddenly my daughter again. When I put on her new CD and she even mustered a little shoulder shimmy, I felt reborn. We'd come a long way in those 24 hours. I'd almost lost her and now she was back again. I felt a new appreciation for my wonderful daughter.
After I'd had that bad moment that night, I thought that Eliza would be better off without me. I know C and I will not be together much longer and I seriously thought I should leave her with him. But once he got home and started to help in his negative, passive-aggressive way, I realized no matter how overwhelmed, how impatient I get, my daughter is better off with me.
I'm not saying that he's a terrible father and I don't want to turn this into a competition. I'm just saying that like it or not, my daughter is stuck with me. That's what's best for her.