Here we all are, the smiling Snyder "fam" enjoying a day out in Boulder in the not too distant past. Who would ever guess that behind my smile I was going through one of the hardest months in our family's history?
One of our children had been staying up at night, getting out of her crib, and not falling asleep until late. She would wake up tired in the morning, and take a moderate (1 ½ hour nap) midday. She seemed to be less likely to listen and more likely to be aggressive and antagonistic toward her siblings. She seemed more intense and more in another person’s space than usual. Sickness seemed to exaserbate the tiredness, too.
Erik and I have hoped to approach each of our children as the individuals they are. Although each child is different, we hope to love them and be consistent with each of them. Our approach to disciplining our older two children is to communicate the problem, explain the consequences, and follow through consistently. As this past month unfolded, one of our daughters has needed this kind of intervention many times each day.
We first attempted to help her get more sleep. We try to get all the children outside to play day to day to burn off normal childhood energy. We cut back on activities that keep us out late and overwhelm her (read: good bye YMCA for now). Even so, she still seemed to be fighting sleep and was a lot to handle the next day.
I personally became exhausted, frustrated, and angry. I felt anxious, nervous, and jumpy during the day when Erik was at work. I felt boiling and ready to blow at any moment. In fact, after an episode earlier this month, ending with my dealing with her out of anger than out of love, Erik and I decided that it would be better for me not to deal with her at that level and instead to call him at work. Additionally, I had tons of negative thoughts toward her and the effect I perceived she was having on our family. Erik and I talked about this and about solutions.
I felt that I needed help. As only God can do, He had "arranged" for my good friend Suzan Chase to come out for a week's surprise visit, and I could feel myself literally relax the first day she arrived and began to help out with the children. (More on this visit later!) However, I felt myself get more anxious and nervous a few days before she left.
After Suzan left, I was on me own again during the day and felt the anger right there, waiting to surface.
I recognize that our child's behavior is to a great degree normal: her age, her God-given personality, her family dynamic, and her lack of sleep. What saddens me was my reactions to our child. My behavior is also expressing itself with impatience our other children. I recognize that my behavior is largely due to a lack of deep sleep and to the intensity of practically parenting three children under the age of three.