Thursday, December 6, 2007

the hard stuff

Frances' fever spiked Monday night. (Again these things going awry in the night! Why not 3 pm??) She felt so crummy that she couldn't do anything but cry for ages and ages. We took her pjs off and put her in the bath and tried to cool her down, but it wasn't until the tylenol kicked in about an hour later that she was able to be at all calm. We both were up with her and after awhile it was sort of like in the early days of baby when there's nothing to do but be up and accept it. We watched tv; we talked; we felt what the middle of the night feels like. It's not so bad. 

The next day she was very fussy and still feverish. After her 10 minute nap (seriously) she was especially a mess and for a while was completely inconsolable. I felt so helpless; I wanted to be able to comfort her, but she was just so miserable. Some of the time she didn't even want me to hold her, or she couldn't accept my comfort, or something. She wanted me near, and I think she actually wanted to be held, but she wouldn't let me touch her; she would just stand in front of me stamping her feet and crying. When I'd reach for her, she'd push me away. The thought to smack her actually crossed my mind; I haven't had that thought since she was very small and would cry for hours. It startled me, and I just put my hands over my face and cried myself. It wasn't that I was angry—it was more like wanting to shake her out of it. I was just helpless. I sobbed, big racking sobs, and this, interestingly, actually quieted her for a moment. I'm sure it was funny to see Mom cry like this. It felt like an appropriate thing to do with those feelings. 

That was 2 days ago. Yesterday her sitter, whom she loves more than anyone else in the whole world, called me in the afternoon to say she was inconsolable again. For her to be fussy with C means something is really wrong. So we took her to Urgent Care last night, where they told us what we suspected: ear infection. What I didn't know was that it was both ears. Last night she had her first dose of antibiotic and today is a much better day. 

It doesn't disturb me now that I thought to hit her, but it did then. It's so clear that having a kid puts you right in the middle of it and you're forced to face your stuff. So much of it is an exercise in BEING, in feeling what you're feeling, in sitting through the boredom and frustration and powerlessness and worry and the certainty that we don't have a clue. It's all very spiritual, this experience, and it's not surprising that I sometimes want to escape. I have a hard time being present for my life as it is, even without the difficulty of caring for another human. Certainly doing it well (being a good parent) means accepting that you can't always do it well, that sometimes you'll have thoughts you don't like, that sometimes you'll respond in ways you wish you hadn't. Thankfully all I did yesterday was cry.

1 comment:

Buddy Harris said...

Hard stuff is right, but I'm glad you put it out there. So right you are also about the presence piece. When you're there in the moment, it feels like sanctuary. When the voices can't be quieted, it's pretty miserable.

The line about feeling the way the middle of the night feels...beautiful.