When Daycare is Better Than Mommy

First, a little really long back story.

I said that I needed a break from blogging, but more and more lately, I’ve actually felt like I needed a break from life. Does that sound depressing? It is.

For a while now I’ve been so tired that all I want to do is sleep. There are two major obstacles to that though: my job and my baby. Neither allows for daytime sleeping. I’ve pretty much been in a constant state of tired ever since about high school, so this isn’t completely un-chartered territory, but it felt excessive. Beyond my normal tired and beyond my I have a teething baby who wakes up at least once a night tired. On top of the fatigue, I’ve also been dealing with a bit of depression, which for me manifests itself as anger, a complete feeling of hopelessness/worthlessness, and a lack of interest in things I usually care about (like blogging and taking pictures, for example). A few weeks ago, I read a blog post where the writer said she found out she was having thyroid issues and immediately wondered if I too could be having the same problem. Her symptoms sounded the same as mine and then I googled some of the other symptoms. Hair loss? Check. Difficulty concentrating/memory problems? Yup. Dry skin? Definitely. The list goes on.

So I went to the doctor on Monday and asked that they check my thyroid. Yesterday they called back to say that while my levels are still in the normal range, they are just barely. As in the range goes up to 4.7, and mine was 4.6. When I was pregnant it was 2.0 and the year before that, when I wasn’t, it was 3.0 (apparently it goes down in pregnancy). So while 4.6 is still within the “normal” range, it is not within my normal range, which is an important distinction in my opinion. And it’s enough for me to feel without a shadow of a doubt that it has been contributing to this fatigue and depression (two of the main symptoms!). Maybe not the sole cause (read: baby waking up every night), but at least part of it. At this point, I don’t know where we go from here, but I’m happy to have some direction and for the first time in a while, I feel hopeful that we can figure this out and one day I can start to feel better. Maybe. Hopefully.

So that’s a little back story. Now on to the real subject of this post which you might have picked up on with the title….

Annabel was up at 4:30 yesterday. I brought her into our bed, but she was really fussy and wouldn’t settle back in. I was beyond tired and frustrated and just wanted to go back to sleep for a little bit before my alarm went off at 6am. As fate would have it, she didn’t fall back asleep until about 5:54 and then I got up a little after 6:00, letting her sleep until around 6:50 when I had to leave the house. My eyes physically hurt all morning at work and all I could think about was how tired I was. Then I got the call from the doctor’s office about my thyroid and while it’s not great news, it still felt like a relief in the sense that now there was something to go on.

On the bus ride home, I toyed with the idea of going straight home and taking a nap (since I get off at 1:00 pm on Wednesdays) instead of heading immediately to the daycare to pick up Annabel. But I never do that and how would I deal with the guilt of going home to sleep while Annabel was at daycare? While Nathan was at work. While there was tons of stuff to do around the house. I couldn’t do it.

But then I got to my car and again felt like I couldn’t keep my eyes open. How would I even take care of Annabel? She’s so clingy when I pick her up from daycare that she scarcely lets me put her down. How could I maintain my patience with her constant need to be held when I was so physically and mentally exhausted?

And then it dawned on me. Being a good mother does not always mean being with your child. Sometimes being a good mother means recognizing when you just can’t do it. Sometimes it means leaving your child in a place where they are well cared for and safe so that you can go take a nap. So that when you do pick that child up, you are well rested and patient and capable of giving all of the attention and love and hugs that that child needs and craves after a day spent apart. In the same way that airlines tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before your child, sometimes being a good mother means taking care of yourself first so that you can take care of your child.

So that’s what I did. I went home and I took a much needed nap. And I still felt the guilt, but I tried to push it to the side. {Side note: Why is there so much guilt associated with motherhood?!} And I felt so.much.better afterward! I certainly didn’t catch up on all of my sleep, but I got enough to be able to do right by Annabel. And if it meant an extra two hours that she spent at daycare, then I say that’s time well spent.

Sometimes daycare is better than (a sleepy) mommy.

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