There are several things that are more difficult when your spouse is deployed. Taking care of the house on your own, taking care of the finances on your own, running errands, cooking, cleaning, etc. But I’ve come to discover that the hardest thing to do on your own as the spouse of a deployed military member is parenting.
Now, I haven’t been a parent for very long. And honestly, I didn’t think the real “parenting” would come until James got home. I also thought that when the time did come to parent that I would have it in the bag. I have a background in psychology with a focus on behavior management as well as a Master’s in Elementary Education. I’ve nannied and taught my fair share of difficult children. So I (humbly, obviously) figured that I would rule over the parenting world. Well, at 3.5 months old my daughter is kicking my ass.
I know what you’re thinking. “Really, this sweet, innocent, cute little baby is wreaking havoc on you?”
Don’t let the fuzzy cute bear suit fool you, they know how to use their cuteness against us (she’s so freaking cute!). But the answer is yes, yes she is wreaking havoc. Truth be told, Evelyn is a pretty good baby (see above picture). In general, she’s happy and content. I mean, for pete’s sake, I’m able to blog. She can’t be that hard. But since daddy has been gone, things have gotten a little bit more difficult.
Now, those of you who gave me advice before Evelyn was born and shortly thereafter about the first three months being the hardest- you are all liars. My newborn was an angel. She slept through the night after 3 weeks of life. She would go down for a nap awake and put herself to sleep, and then she would sleep for at least 2 hours if not more at a time. More than once I thought to myself, “Seriously, I could have another baby like, tomorrow.” HA.
Once Evelyn turned three months, it went down hill. This slippery slope into Crankytown, USA happened to coincide with daddy leaving. So awesome, my child turns into Miss Fussypants Crankapotamus McCriesAlot and I’m on my own. Cool, thanks. I appreciate the challenge (enter eye rolling here).
Where to begin- thankfully, she still sleeps pretty well at night except for getting up once to eat which is fine with me. If she’s hungry I’ll pass along the boob, no biggie. But she doesn’t nap. Like, ever. Her morning nap used to be about 2 hours. Now its like 30 minutes. And every nap after that is shorter and shorter. And those of you who have babies know that a tired baby is an unhappy baby. On the up side, she’s now decided that her crib is the DEVIL and that mommy is the only place good enough to sleep for naps (enter second eye roll here). This is not conducive to our lifestyle, baby.
And then there’s the screeching. Now this is not an “I’m pissed” screech. This is an “I feel like hearing my own voice” screech. And I know this because every time she does it she smiles. And its LOUD. At first it was cute and kind of funny. But after awhile its not funny anymore. Its still kind of cute though (but don’t tell her that, she’s on to me…).
So what do I do about the lack of napping and the screeching? The thing is, I have no idea. And I want my husband to be here to help me figure this crud out. Should I continue swaddling? Should I try and let her put herself to sleep? Is this sleeping on mommy thing going to become a habit or should I just let her do it for now? Has she been awake too long or too little? Does she look tired? Do I try and tell her “no” when she screams or is she just working her voice? Is it too early to “discipline?” IS ANYTHING I’M DOING WORKING?!
It is beyond frustrating to feel like you’re running in circles. I don’t have him here to give another opinion or to just take her for five minutes while I figure this out. When I try to ask him what he thinks, its hard for him to tell me because he’s not here experiencing it. He really is great about giving advice and empathy because he’s been here when we’ve had our days and I’m very thankful for that. Its just that we’re both trying to parent our child and its so much harder when we’re not together, working as a united front.
Evelyn really is a good baby and I know things could be a lot more difficult. We only really have the two issues and the screeches aren’t that bad (again, sort of cute but if she finds out I’m done-zo). Maybe its because as a newborn she was so easy so with I’m stumbling with these new difficulties smacking me upside the head. Or maybe she realizes that daddy is missing and is clinging on to me moreso because of it. Maybe its because she talked to the older kids in our mommy’s group and they gave her the lowdown on how things are really supposed to go in baby world (I swear, they must have baby conversations over the monitors at night. Like ninja e-trade babies). I have no freaking clue. All I know is that the whole parenting thing seems harder since I’m minus one.