I Like My Toddler Better When I Have My Own Space

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toddler

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. I love him more than life itself, and I would bend over backwards and bend time itself to make sure he has everything he could ever want or need. With that being said, there are the moments when the tantrums reach that certain decibel, the toys scatter in an irritable rageand the constant indecision leaves my head spinning. In those moments my blood begins to boil and “like” and “love” become disproportionate.

Recently my husband had to be away for an extended time with work, and my 18 month-old son and myself were blessed with the opportunity to visit him for a week. Due to the picturesque and coveted location (which boasts some of the best beaches in the continental U.S.), all rooms, condos, and suites within our radius were booked, with the exception of my husband’s tiny, corporate sponsored, single bed, hotel room.

Overall, it was a great six days. We went to mesmerizing museums that held my toddler’s attention better than Daniel Tiger, we saw good friends who lived nearby, we took our son to the beach for the first time (but only lasted 30 minutes before the epic meltdown got too much for us to handle – what kid hates the beach?), and we went to the pool everyday.

But nap and bedtime were a different story. The first night he refused to sleep unless he was nestled in my armpit with each foot stretched as far to either side of the bed as he could manage. The second night my husband demanded that he sleep in his play yard, which he did, but he woke up frequently wanting to be held. The third night he slept more, and each night got progressively better.

Through trial and error I discovered that the only way he would nap was if I put a movie on and snuggled him on the bed. I didn’t mind; snuggles are far and few between these days, and I got a nap too! Aside from the beach and initial sleeping glitches, my son was very happy, upbeat, and in good spirits. THE. WHOLE. TIME.

But I felt so worn down and weary and, I’ll admit, anger and frustration got the better of me multiple times those last few days. And for no reason; he had settled into a sleep routine and stayed wildly entertained during his waking hours. With every new day he slept better (which meant we all did).

Yet my irritation grew more and more.

My son would do something simple and sweet and I would nearly go off my rocker. My husband, who loses his patience 10 times easier than I do, even took me aside, bewildered at my embittered and discouraged spirit. Despite my passion for that city and enjoying the luxury of the rare time spent together as a family, I was beyond ready to go home.

I needed a vacation from my vacation.

When we got home, the stark juxtaposition of suddenly being alone was blatant. And within 12 hours I felt normal again, but couldn’t figure out why. And that’s when it hit me: I was alone. When my son sleeps, I have the whole house to myself. My body subconsciously lets my guard down, relaxes, and enables my mind and my spirit to rest and rejuvenate.

So, spending 144 consecutive hours being within arms reach and breathing the same air as my child wore me to the bone, and I wasn’t able to recuperate properly. And he unfairly got the worst of me for it. While I wanted to put his attitude and actions at fault for causing my frustration and outbursts, I couldn’t. I wasn’t getting what I needed, and in turn, I couldn’t give him what he needed.

I learned an important lesson about myself and about motherhood from our vacation: I’m a better mom when I have my own space. And when I’m a better mom, my like of and love for my child becomes more synonymous. And consequently, my son likes me a lot better too!

Since this trip, my husband and I unanimously decided that we will never take another family vacation again unless we can get a suite with a separate sleeping room!

Have you experienced similar situations? How do you make space and time to rest in the midst of life and motherhood? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Originally from Denver, Amie enjoyed a break from cold winters while stationed in various southern locales with her husband, who is a pilot in the Navy. But they currently live outside Seattle, and she is now learning to love the rain. Amie and her husband have four small children who eat dinosaur chicken nuggets like they're going extinct and love all things aviation. After graduating with her B.A. in English, Amie worked in various fields with each military move, but never stopped writing. She has been a contributor for Military Moms Blog since it was founded and finds joy in helping other moms connect in community. When she's not writing or herding her adorable brood, you can find Amie running half marathons, binge-watching Hallmark movies, and actually enjoying chemistry while home-brewing with her husband. Follow Amie on Instagram at @mrs.amielou.

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