Monday, November 29, 2010

I Need to Get Out of Here!—by Jamie Levine

I’m incredibly stressed out. My entire body and being are so tightly wound I’m suffering from persistent migraines and insomnia, and my mind is almost constantly racing. In the next three weeks, I have a an important test to take, a project due, three finals I need to ace, seven grad school applications to complete, a freelance assignment to finish, and of course, my daily parenting duties to attend to. It’s a lot. And though all of these obligations should consume 100% of my time, I’m still finding time to see Library Guy as much as I possibly can. And you know what? It’s a good distraction; he helps me cope.

Library Guy calms me; be it the physical or emotional intimacy I share with him, spending time with Library Guy clears my mind, soothes my soul, and lets me just be me. I’m no longer a compulsive straight-A student or an aspiring supermom, and I have no agenda except for being happy and feeling good. Even if it’s just for an hour or two. And that helps me get through all the rough spots in my life. That’s why I’m incredibly frustrated with my daughter’s recent behavior, and am feeling a bit resentful and, if it's possible—more stressed out than usual.

A week ago Saturday, I went out with Library Guy and my parents put Jayda to bed for me; when I left Jayda, she was fine. But when I came home at 3 a.m., my mother greeted me at the stairs to inform me that Jayda woke up at 11 p.m. crying for me, and didn’t calm down or go back to sleep until after 2 a.m. When my mom tried to explain to Jayda that just like Jayda needs to play with her friends, I need to play with my friends, my precocious daughter responded, “Well I don’t take as much time as my mommy does” and complained that her mommy was “staying out too late!” I was annoyed at my daughter, who usually sleeps through the night, and generally accepts the fact that I go out with my friends now and then. Most of all, I felt incredibly guilty for the sleep my parents lost that night; they had tried desperately to console Jayda, and my mom stayed in bed with her for hours.

Several days later, when Library Guy didn’t have to watch his kids, and asked me if we could go out for a little while, I assured my parents that I’d put Jayda to bed, myself, and that I’d only be gone for 2-3 hours; I also told them to call me if Jayda did happen to wake up, and promised them I’d come home immediately. Two hours into our date, Library Guy, who knew I couldn’t stay out late, suggested we go back to my house and just watch some TV so we could spend more time together. Almost immediately after I agreed, my mom called to tell me Jayda had woken up and was crying for me. I raced home, and into bed with her, where she clung to me...and wouldn’t let me go. Every time Jayda started to doze off, she snapped her eyes open to check to see if I was still there. I had Library Guy outside waiting to come in the house when I was ready…but I never was. For the next two hours, Jayda fought sleep and wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She even followed me to the bathroom. My date-night was instantly aborted.

I know I still deserve to go out (and lord knows I need to!), but now I’m gun-shy; I definitely don’t want to burden my parents with any more sleepless nights waiting for me to get home. I don’t want to be angry at my daughter for loving and needing me so much, but I’m a bit resentful of her behavior, and I’m not sure what to do about it. As much as I love being with Jayda (and even sleeping with her!), I need my stress-free time with Library Guy. And I also feel badly for not being able to give Library Guy a drama-free night out anytime soon. He’s been incredibly understanding, but it’s still not fair to him—or to me.

I’ve spoken to Jayda about her behavior, and assured her that she’ll always be safe and taken care of, even if I’m not home, and that I’ll always come back to be with her—no matter what. Is she really worried? Or too attached? Or is she just playing me? I’m not sure. But no matter what she's feeling or doing, it’s not easy to deal with…and right now, the stress is simply eating me up.


Blogger Karen du Toit said...

A very difficulty situation! You definitely deserve to get out and have your own time!
But if you try to force Jayda, I think it will escalate! I think you should try and answer to her needs right now, and it definitely will get better again...
Library Guy sounds like a gem!

3:43 AM  
Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

When my son Seth was little, he would cry and cling to my leg for dear life when I tried to leave the house or even a drop off program we had him in. I vividly recall a time when one of his teacher actually had to restrain him as I went running to my car. It was not a mommy 'n me program. He's now 7, and we're long past this behavior. But, as a mom, it's something that tears at your heart and you never forget it, but, I also didn't give in to it. He learned that mommy left and mommy returned.

Hang in there! Before you know it Jayda will be saying "see ya mom," as she goes off to a playdate.

7:32 AM  
Blogger rsinger said...

Hey Jamie, I think this is more of a developmental thing than a behavior thing. When Judy was littler, she would also reliably sleep through the night. Then at that age she started waking at night and needing me.
I'm sorry you're dealing with it. It was a bitch when I was dealing with it, and I didn't have Library Guy waiting in the living room!

6:14 AM  
Blogger Cara Meyers said...

It almost sounds like Library Guy is the new "addition" to the household and Jayda has been thrown off her pedestal, so to speak. Like when an older sibling retaliates against the "intrusion" of a new baby in the house. I know you want your own time with Library Guy, but what if you include her while the three of you watch television at 1am? Or temporarily limit how late you stay out with Library Guy and make sure that you are home no later than midnight so that if Jayda wakes up, you will be there for her? Not fun. And not unstressful. But it sounds like Jayda's insecurity is rearing it's ugly head and she needs you to help her to feel secure again. Take it day by day and through trial and error, see what works and what doesn't. Library Guy sounds like he'll back you either way ;)

10:30 PM  

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