These past couple of weeks have been a little rough, both for Nugget and for her parents. The night weaning process is continuing, which is making sleep a little trickier when she inevitably wakes up. She’s got some more teeth coming in, which makes for some particularly miserable times. Take all of that, and throw in a dash of her brain trying to process so much that she just can’t bring herself to sleep, and you’ve got the combination for some nights with extreme rough patches. Of course, naps are still in a very dicey spot as to whether or not she’ll actually take them, and we’ve been working on balancing her expectations regarding whether or not she gets to listen to “Let It Go” one more time, or if she has to wait, and she is firmly in toddler-mode where waiting is not something she’s very keen on doing. Add all of that together, and you’ve got a potentially stressful cake, which is admittedly made somewhat cuter by Nugget chattering through all of the words she knows, one of which IS “cake”.
Things all really came to a head Tuesday night. We’d been going back and forth on good nights and bad for a while, but Saturday, Nugget decided that she was going to be awake until well after midnight. Then she did the same on Sunday. And on Monday. Tuesday, she wasn’t in any way indicating that she would be able to nap, so she just stayed up. She seemed like she was destined for bed around 7 or so, which is super early, but perfectly reasonable for a kiddo that isn’t napping, and has been waking up and spending the wee hours of the day full of energy running around the house, hitting the dreaded point where neither parent can really function. Honestly, HawtWife and I were really hoping that was the case. Nugget had woken HawtWife up hours before she would normally have to for work, so she was exhausted. I was getting a little frayed, because I wasn’t able to really get any of the recharge time that I so desperately crave to not go full-on crazy person. Plus, we thought it might be nice to have some time just to hang out on the couch as a married couple.
Less than an hour later, Nugget was awake, and she made it clear that she was going to be awake for the long haul. HawtWife, knowing that she had been pushed to her limits for the night, requested that I let her get a couple of hours of sleep at least, and entertain Nugget. Most nights, this would be a little disappointing, knowing that I wouldn’t get my refresh time, but it wouldn’t be a huge deal. Except Tuesday it WAS a huge deal. We were all stressed, frustrated, and running at our wits ends. I totally took Nugget and let HawtWife get some sleep, but I spent a good portion of that time stuck in my head, actually resenting my wife for getting the escape.
Yeah, read that back. I resented my wife for getting sleep interrupted, going to a job that she admittedly loves but is still work, and having the audacity to ask me to watch our child for a couple more hours at night so that she could be functioning as anything more than a zombie the next day when she had to do it all over again.
Here’s the thing. I’m totally within my bounds as a parent to have a rough day (or a rough stretch of days). That happens. I’m even within my bounds to, within my head, feel like my needs are being slighted and made less important than my spouse’s needs. At that moment, I wasn’t in any way doing anything wrong. It had been a stressful time for all of us, and we all needed a break. So yes, it was perfectly okay for me to be disappointed that HawtWife got to step away, and I didn’t. But you know what I actually did, while resenting my wife during those few hours?
I played with my kid. I cuddled Nugget. We drew pictures, and played games, and worked on adding new words. And the next morning, after all of us had gotten some sleep, I immediately apologized to my wife for acting in any way poorly towards her the night before. Because it wasn’t about her slighting my needs. It was about her taking care of herself, and knowing that we’re a team, and we will cover for each other. And, most importantly, it was about what Nugget needed at that time, and how HawtWife knew she couldn’t give it, but that I could.
So, long-winded as this has been, that’s the thing. And that’s why this is a reminder. It’s a reminder to myself, and to anyone reading this, in a relationship or not, a parent or not. You are allowed to have bad days. And you’re allowed to act in ways to express that you’ve had a bad day, so long as it’s not causing any actual harm to another person. Yes, take care of your needs, and make sure that you aren’t burning out completely. Ask for help if you need it, and offer to help when others are making it clear that they are the ones in need. At the end of it all, when the world stops spinning, apologize to anyone you might have wronged, even if those wrongs were just harboring hurt feelings. Don’t forget to apologize to yourself for it. But it isn’t something to dwell on. Because tomorrow is going to show up, and you could very easily miss out on great days if you spend too much time stuck in the bad ones.
Bad days happen. It’s the aftermath that determines how long they last.