I also realized that when I don't get enough sleep, or am awoken in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, I become a very, very terrible person.
The kind of person who, albeit briefly, understands why some people get to the point of hurting their children. It needs to be said, however, that in my fully awake, caffeinated, rational mind, I would NEVER dream of hurting my child, and that the very thought makes me sick. HOWEVER. There are times, like at 3am, when the owlet has flopped around for an hour and a half and refused to go back to sleep, both in his crib and in bed with me, that I have come close to losing it.
On more than one occasion, I have actually lost it. Although I have never struck my child. And I never will.
Yes, I have screamed, and yelled. I even said the title of that book. (You know the one.)
And the following morning, after I looked at my little sleeping guy, all peaceful and breathing deeply, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love, and of sadness and anger at myself. No one deserves to be yelled at like that. Yes, he's 16 months, and no, he won't remember it. But I will.
The day after this happened most recently, I apologized to him. I told him that I was sorry I yelled at him. I explained to him, even though he couldn't understand, that Mommy does not do well on very little sleep. I told him that I don't ever want him to be afraid of me. That I don't want him to think that anger is the way to solve problems. Because it's not.
But we inch ever closer to the Terrible Two's. To the days of wanting to rip my hair out. To the days where I am going to be tired of telling him "the dog is not for hitting." "We don't throw our cup at the tv." Where it will be easier to smack his hand after he slaps me in the face instead of explaining to him that hitting hurts and is not ok and sitting him on the floor.
Which reminds me. Why do people hit kids after they hit someone to tell them that hitting is wrong? I never understood it. And maybe, if nothing else, that will be the reminder in the back of my mind to not smack his hand after he smacks me.
Because I want him to go into life being able to express himself in healthy ways. I've been trying to model healthy expression of feelings to him. I say things to him like "I know you're frustrated, but we don't throw our toys."
But its hard to remember this at 3am. It's even harder to remember it when he's smacked me in the face a bunch of times, and fussed for no reason.
What's not hard to remember though, is that this little guy is my world. The center of my universe. Temper tantrums and all, and I love him no matter what. Face smacking and all.