To my darling high need child:
Before I start, let me emphasize that I love you more than life itself. I would do anything for you, and wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world.
The past _______ months/years haven’t been easy for me and your father/mother/sibling(s). I know they haven’t been easy for you either, so you know what I’m talking about.
Before you were born, I had a certain image of what life as a parent would be like. I was prepared for some sleepless nights, occasional crying fits due to teething or colic , and some tough times during the ‘terrible 2’s’. But somehow I always had this idea that as long as I educated myself, was patient with you, and did my very best, everything would be ok.
Any yet, here we are.
You’re now _______ months/years old, and things haven’t turned out like I thought. At all. To be honest, I sometimes ask myself whether I’m cut out to be a parent at all.
I always pictured myself having a happy, peaceful home, and yet most days our home is anything but happy. I often have NO IDEA what you want; maybe it’s because you have NO IDEA what you want either. Rather than laughter and joking, our days are full of fussing, whining and crying. Instead of playing games and baking cookies, I spend most of my time just trying to find activities to keep you from fussing.
Sometimes it feels like you don’t experience much joy in life…and that makes me sad. And because you never seem to be really happy, I find I’m never really happy either.
Our house feels claustrophobic to me…not warm and inviting like I always hoped and imagined. More often than not, there are dirty dishes in the sink, the floors are sticky and I’m just happy to get a halfway-decent dinner on the table at night. My expectations for what I can/should get done in a day are SO much less than I ever thought possible, and yet there’s nothing I can do about it.
And don’t even get me started on my own personal hygiene. If I can get a shower in every couple of days, that’s a huge accomplishment. Of course, that usually evokes a whole lot of guilt because you cry in your crib the entire time. So I’m left with the choice: be clean and feel guilty, or be dirty and not have to let you cry.
I feel like your lack of sleep is partly to blame for your fussiness. And I know for a fact it contributes to my own feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion. The thing is, I have no clue what to do about it. I’ve read every book and talked to every parent I know, but nothing seems to work for you.
I know ‘they’ say you’re supposed to get 12/14/16 hours of sleep every day, and you’re not even coming close. And sometimes, when you wake up crying from another 20 minute cat nap, I just wonder how much longer I can do this. If you would only sleep! If you would only sleep, I feel like maybe I could handle this whole parenthood thing.
And then I feel guilty. SO, so guilty. I feel guilty about everything. I feel guilty that I can’t figure out what you want. I feel guilty that you don’t get enough sleep. I feel guilty that I don’t give enough attention to your sibling(s). I feel guilty because sometimes I feel like I don’t want to be a parent. I love you SO much….but sometimes I just need…a break. Something. I don’t even know what I need.
I know there are no solutions. No easy fix for how things are right now. I know you’re still figuring out how to be in the world. I know you want to be happy, and that someday, you will be.
And until that time, I promise I’ll keep hanging in there. Keep loving you, and caring for you the best I know how. I know we’re in this together, even though sometimes I feel I’m doing it alone. And even though sometimes I’m parenting by sheer force of will. Putting one foot in front of the other, just for one more day.
Someday, I know things will be better. I don’t know if it will be next week, or maybe a year from now. But I have hope that someday these long, LONG days will be a memory. This won’t last forever.
And I’ll tell you stories about what things used to be like. And you’ll smile, and laugh. And I’ll understand that those hard times were the price to pay for being blessed with YOU.
You may also enjoy, This Isn’t the Child I Dreamt of.
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Stop Crying, Calm Down, and Other Things We Tell Our High Need Kids
Chrissy’s Story: Colic, Guilt and Postpartum Depression
The Myth Of “You Made Him That Way”
You’re Not Letting Me Have the Happy Home I Wanted (A Letter to My High Need Child)
The Aftermath of Colic: Are You ‘Over It’?