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Living in Fear (but it's not what you think…)

By Lindsay Pinchuk

nicole and maya
By Nicole Frehsee Mazur

Every day, I live in fear.

Not of dying in a terrorist attack or coming down with some horrible illness or my bank account drying up.

I’m terrified that I’ll put my daughter down for her morning nap and she’ll only sleep for 30 minutes.

Ok, it’s hyperbolic. But Maya’s quickie naps, which happen a couple times a week, really do have the power to ruin my day, leaving me unshowered, unable to accomplish anything and wanting to rip my hair out. Nap-less mornings bleed into afternoons filled with crying spells (hers) and extreme crankiness (both of ours), plus many frustrating attempts to get her to go back to sleep. They also mean more games of peek-a-boo, more shouts of “no no!” as she shoves an electrical cord/plastic bag/dog food into her mouth and more invasions of privacy (I can’t leave her alone for a second, which translates into taking her everywhere with me, even into the bathroom).

The naps are just the latest in a string of challenges I’ve encountered in my daughter’s ten month life. See also: a suspected dairy allergy that made Maya scream 90 percent of her waking hours; various breastfeeding disasters; not sleeping through the night for a full six months.

Every one of those issues left me feeling drained and defeated. Intellectually I understood that things would eventually get better, but when I was comforting a shrieking baby for the third hour straight or icing my bleeding nipples or waking up for 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. feedings for the umpteenth consecutive night, I couldn’t see my way out.

That’s how I feel about this napping situation. I wouldn’t care so much if I got to breeze out of my house every morning while a nanny took over. But as a stay-at-home mom, I’m the one who has to deal with Maya’s overtired moods — something I don’t handle all that well. Example: I strangled my dog last week because he barked at the postman while Maya was trying to fall asleep.

I should say here that I was probably never meant to be a stay-at-home mom. Aside from the fact that I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie and “adult-ness” of working in an office (I spent 4+ years in New York as a writer for Rolling Stone, which is, like, the dream professional setting), I have zero patience and I’m easily overwhelmed — two qualities not exactly suited to hanging out with a baby all day. But when I found out I was pregnant, my husband and I decided staying at home with our future kid(s) made sense. As a freelance magazine writer, I work from home anyway, and I want to be around my baby…just a calmer, sleepier version.

Of course, I realize that if napping troubles are my biggest concern, then I’m a very lucky mom. My daughter is a giggly, feisty, curious and generally awesome little person and I’m so thankful for her. None of us escape parenthood totally unscathed — we all have hardships, whether minor or major, and hopefully most of them will pass. After all, Maya’s digestive issues cleared up, my nipples healed and I now regularly log eight hours of sleep per night.

So every time I glance at the monitor 30 minutes into a nap and see Maya’s head pop up over the crib, that’s what I tell myself (after letting out a couple swear words, of course). Then I take a deep breath, scramble to put away the breakfast dishes, pull my unwashed hair into a bun, and run upstairs to give my daughter a kiss.

Nicole Frehsee Mazur is a first-time mom (daughter Maya was born in December 2014) and freelance magazine writer based in Detroit. Her work has appeared in O, the Oprah Magazine, Time Out, Maxim and Rolling Stone, where she’s a former editor.

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