From Merriam Webster:

Main Entry:
Greek empatheia, literally, passion, from empathēs emotional, from em- + pathos feelings, emotion — more at pathos

1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it

2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner ; also : the capacity for this (emphasis mine)

I got in an argument not too long ago wherein I was accused of confusing mind reading with empathy. It shook me up at the time — and it still stings — but after some days of reflection, it may be true.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, the most empathic person you are going to meet. Part of that is temperament; I am introverted and selfish with my time. Part of that is circumstances; given my daily to-do list, I feel that if I weren’t selfish with my time, I would lose my mind. And that’s not going to do anyone any good.

It goes beyond that though, and, frankly, being more empathic is something I could work on. Empathy would help in my relationship with my dramatic, easily upset 4-year-old. My primary response to her histrionics these days is frustration. (Also, rolling my eyes.) It would help me find a way to help my 2-year-old who is plagued with nightmares. Being more empathetic would certainly help in my relationship with my overworked husband. I get that, I do.

I admit that I am having trouble stirring up empathy — for anyone, not just those poor unfortunates in my immediate circle. I am so freaking tired. If I don’t get a solid night’s sleep soon — like, tonight — I don’t know what I’m going to do. The cumulative effects of broken sleep are starting to seriously show; my edges are beyond frayed these days. On top of everything else, I am still struggling to keep my home in some kind of acceptable shape, and wondering when I am going to have the time or energy to actually get ahead of the mess (especially in the kitchen and the office).

I yearn to be a better partner to my husband, but as we hardly see each other, this is proving extremely difficult. He works all the time, and he always has paperwork to do, regardless of the day or the hour; I am left with the bulk of what constitutes “not paid work”. Which is a lot of work!

I am not bitter or angry (today at least). I am feeling tired, despairing, hopeless. Things are slipping. I’m feeling alone.

I guess I need a little empathy too. Or at least eight hours of sleep. Two nights in a row, even.

Two Steps Forward, and the Status Quo

Last night as I was getting Bun ready to take her bath, she looked me in the face and said, “I have to go pee.”

So we walked into the bathroom, and — after I stopped her from putting her hands in the toilet — got her properly situated, and she peed on the potty.

I was so proud of her. Not least of all because, frankly, I haven’t made a damn move on the potty training front with Bun. I do not have a clue how I am supposed to potty train a child while I am at work full time. I suspect it may involve a very intense weekend in the house, with Bun’s bum on the pot every half an hour.

Which I understand can be effective, but it sounds like terribly high-pressure situation for a 2-and-a-half-year-old. Especially as using the potty is something I would like her to learn.

As a reward, I gave her a chocolate cookie (note to self: stock up on M&M’s). She seemed to grasp the importance of what she did. I am encouraged. But I still have no plans to go hard-core on this thing. It’s too nice outside!

Unfortunately, on the sleep front, Bun is still not doing well. The nightmares continue, and continue to disrupt sleep for the household. And by household, I mean me.

I thought a routine of ‘monster spray’ and prayers (“Now I lay me down to sleep…” and a litany of “God bless…”) would put the kibosh on the nightmares. This did seem to work — for about two days. But now we’re back to waking up, usually anywhere between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning.

Last night was especially terrible. She was up screaming by 12:30 a.m. When I went to get her and tuck her into bed with me (DearDR fell asleep on the couch, that lucky bastard), I asked if anything hurt. She said no. I asked if she had a nightmare. She said yes. I asked what about? She said monsters. Trying to drill down a little further, I said, “What kind of monsters?” “Animal monsters,” she answered. I had nothing further to ask, and spent the rest of the night waking up with her toes digging into my back.

I’m of two minds. One mind says, “Let her watch Monsters, Inc.” The other one says, “Make bed time even quieter, don’t talk about monsters (i.e. use angel spray instead of monster spray), and tell Bun about all the good dreams she is going to have.” (This latter is at the suggestion of DearDR.)

What say you? Also, if you have any guidance on the potty training front for a WOTHM, I am all ears.

All I Need is Sleep

For some time now, Bun has been giving me some difficulties at bed time. She is already, at 2, quite the little staller. Monkey tries to stall too, but her heart isn’t really in it. She takes “no” extraordinarily well at bed time. Most of the time.

Bun lists all the things she has to do at bedtime:

“Watch tee-vee?” We’ve already watched our 1/2-hour-before-bed-time show.
“Bush teef, mommy? Bush teef?” Of course.
“Tak-a-baf?” This regardless of whether or not she has already had a bath.
“Read book. Harwy, No Roses.” That’s No Roses for Harry, second only to Harry by the Sea in our household.
“I poopy, Mommy” or just “Change di-per, Mommy”. Poopy or not, I must change her. She accepts no substitutes.
“Rock-a-bye?” or “Song, mommy.”

If she’s really desperate, she tells me, “I hungy, mama. I firsty.” She does not like to hear “no, it’s time for bed.”

Then once she’s in bed, she’ll start crying about 5 minutes after I leave the room. I suspect she’s scared of the dark, and she’s scared of shadows, so I usually leave her crib-side light on. (I know, I know, it’s time for a big girl bed. We’ve just been so very busy.)

But in the past two weeks, it’s gotten worse. She’s been waking up in the middle of the night crying and crying. She won’t settle down until I go into her and rock her a little bit. Or, worse, she’ll wake up around 4 a.m., and be convinced it’s time to get up and go downstairs.

Three nights ago, she woke up screaming at 1 a.m. She screamed for an hour despite my attempts to soothe and rock her. She truly seemed terrified and kept looking around her room as if she didn’t know where she was.

Finally DearDR took her, and walked outside with her. It was like hitting the off switch. Of course, when he brought her back to bed, she wanted nothing to do with her crib, and so they slept together in the guest bed.

Two nights ago she woke up twice, once at 11:30 p.m. (I think — I was a little groggy) and the next time a 4 a.m. At 4 a.m., I took her downstairs, but I didn’t put any lights on; I showed her that everyone was still in bed and it was still dark. When I sat on the couch, she cuddled right up like she was going to doze off. So I brought her in bed with us; it worked out okay then, but I don’t want to make it a nightly thing.

I know we went through a similar phase with Monkey, but she was older, and a night light solved it. Bun can’t seem to tell me what is wrong; it shouldn’t be teething (she’s got ’em all), and she just had an ear recheck that revealed no new ear infection — hallelujah. When I ask if anything hurts, she cries out, “No!” And cries some more.

I do not know what to do for Bun. It seems she’s having nightmares, and I’m not sure it we can prevent that. Up until now, she has been such a good sleeper. It’s not horrendous, relatively, but I hit a wall around 2 or 3 p.m. at work, and being up past 10 p.m. is a real struggle. (I know I should go to bed earlier, but it just doesn’t happen if i want to keep my house in relative order, post and/or plurk, plus have a smidgen of “just-me” time with a book and a glass of wine. And watch Lost on Wednesdays. And then there are green bean nights… Oh, you know.) Suggestions are more than welcome!

This morning takes the cake. After wreaking havoc on DearDR’s sleep most of the night (he tried to settle with her in the guest bed again), she came in to our room where I was sleeping at 4:50 a.m.; after 10 minutes of kicking and stealing my blankets, I took her downstairs, gated her in the living room, and turned on the Backyardigans. Then I went back up to bed.

At 6 a.m., she came back upstairs, climbed into bed with me and fell asleep. She was still sleeping when I left at 7 a.m. She’s trying to kill us. Or, at least, drive us insane.

I’m tired, yo.