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Monday, July 31, 2006

Muy malo mami

My mother-in-law has told me on many an occasion that Motherhood's middle name is Guilt.

In the past 18 months, I have struggled with maternal guilt about many things - some big, some small. And it seems that each time I come to a place of peace about the reality of who I am as a mother and manage to chase the guilt monster back out the front door, it sneaks back in through a window I didn't know was left open. . .

In Dacey's early months, I was a wreck over the amount of sleep she was getting - or more accurately NOT getting - each day. Her naps were only 30-45 minutes and I was just sure the lack of napping would eventually lead to lack of learning and she would someday figure out that all of her intellectual struggles found their roots in the fact that her mother couldn't get her to nap enough as an infant. When she turned 6 months old, her naptimes finally evened out and I enjoyed a long, long time of feeling confident in her daytime sleep schedule. In fact, I had begun to relish the fact that even as a toddler, she still took two naps a day. As her peers began to drop that morning nap, I delighted in the fact that "Dacey is a child that just needs a lot of daytime sleep" (as I so blithely told a friend last Friday).

And so in the last few days, as Dacey has clearly shown me that she is ready to transition to one nap a day, I have been inundated with emotions - most of them negative. Sad but true, I have felt a real sense of loss in watching this change in my child. I would love to be able to heroically reflect on how this transition to one nap is symbolic of the bigger transition from baby to toddler, how I am realizing that she really is a big girl these days, and other sweet, loving thoughts.

But the dark truth is the loss I am grieving is not the end of babyhood, but rather the further shrinkage of my Mommy Time.

For months, my days had been ordered by what I could get done during nap time. Dacey's morning naps afforded me time to take long, peaceful showers and spend time in quiet reflection on the Word of God and in prayer. Her afternoon naps were my writing time - a can of diet Coke and a keyboard provided sweet respite from the rest of the day. I loved naptime - not because I don't love spending time with D, but because I treasure spending time with myself.

And so this transition to one nap has brought about a real sense of loss and sadness for me. And for that I feel tremendously guilty. I know that ideally, I would be excited that more awake time for Dace means more interaction, more learning opportunities, more memories to be made. But the reality is that I am really struggling with having to create a new normal in light the light of our new schedule.

I know I will adjust. I know I will find ways to compensate. And in fact, in a few weeks I will look back on this post and shudder at my selfishness. But for now I just needed to confess my guilt . . .