I had a meltdown yesterday. I was trying to play on the computer and Del wanted me to hold her, but I knew if I did she'd try and mess with the keyboard and grab things and generally be a pain in the ass. So I gave her some toys to play with, but she wasn't interested. Then I gave her some objects which, while not technically toys and therefore more interesting than actual toys, are still pretty safe; I gave her a yellow translucent set square from an old math set. I gave her a red glass dreidel I bought in Venice. I gave her a rolly drafting ruler. I gave her the very best of my random desk drawer crap, and she still wasn't interested. I begged and pleaded with her to just sit down and play for a few minutes, but she just hung onto my leg and cried to be picked up.
Finally I lost it. I yelled, "Would you just shut up!", and picked up the keyboard and banged it on the desk, which made a very satisfying and very loud noise, and scared the crap out of her and made her really cry ("I'll give you something to cry about!") and then I didn't even have the decency to feel bad. Instead I got up and stormed around the house cleaning up, because the mess which I had unsuccessfully being trying to clean up all day was playing on my nerves. Delphine crawled around after me, sobbing miserably.
After a couple of minutes I had cleaned up the worst of the mess and relieved some frustration, and I gathered the poor weeping bundle into my arms and we cuddled and nursed in the rocking chair and I apologized for scaring her and for getting angry, and I told her I love her.
And of course all I achieved in the end was teaching her that when Mummy sits at the computer Very Bad Things happen and it is Scary, and you should always cry when Mummy sits at the computer, just in case. Still, I taught myself that getting angry at a baby is not only useless, it is often actually counter-productive.
I have attachment parented myself into a corner. I've always held Delphine a lot, because she is happier being held than not. I don't know if that's standard baby behaviour, or if it's my fault for not somehow teaching her to play by herself. Indeed, she does play by herself sometimes, and I might be overstating the amount of time she needs to be held. And maybe soon enough she won't want to be held at all, and I will wonder what I was complaining about. But for right now, it seems like she is always in my arms. I hold her when I do housework, I hold her when I cook (if it's safe), I hold her when she naps. She's eleven months old! I need my arms back! I love it when Blake comes home and takes her so that I can be free to cook and wash dishes without her clinging to my legs. (Cooking and washing dishes is my Fun Me Time! Fuck!)
And at the same time I feel like such a loser for complaining about my terribly difficult life when my friend Debbie back home is holding down three paying jobs at the same time as bringing up her son. When I know there are single Moms out there who would love my problems. I feel like such a asshole for not being able to handle a baby as sweet and calm as Delphine without losing my temper.
This problem is exacerbated by a concurrent but largely unrelated crisis of confidence I'm having about my life in general. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with myself, and I'm pretty displeased with myself so far. I make lots of jokes about being a slacker and an underacheiver, but underneath I really believe I should do something useful with my time on this earth. It's true that being a good mother is important work, but I don't believe that it is enough of a contribution to the world; it's a good start, but one should give more if one has more to give, which I do.
I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't done more. I'm disappointed that I only have a lousy three-year degree. I fear that I will get to be thirty-five or forty and realize my life is half over and I still haven't done anything useful or valuable. I'm pissed off that I have this big meaty brain and I don't have anything to show for it, no job, no shiny post-grad degree, nothing except a small child with a big meaty brain of her own. I fear that I really am lazy and stupid, like I call myself all the time.
I still don't know what I should do when I grow up, but I'm starting to suspect that I have already grown up and the time to do anything is running short.