At 10-months-old, Iris is tremendously interactive, and we're having a fabulous time getting to know each other better. With new interaction comes new emotional connection, for me and for her. But because of this, we've also entered the stage of separation anxiety (for me and for her).
And I think it might literally be killing me.
In the beginning when she was a flopping, only-sleeping-and-eating sort of baby, I guess it felt more arbitrary. When she cried, she wanted something. It felt like she didn't really have emotions, just needs. She had a hungry cry, a tired cry, a gassy cry, and even if it was an "I can't figure out what you need!" cry, somehow that seemed okay because, well, babies cry sometimes. They just do.
But now there's not really a hungry cry or a gassy cry. We've sorted those things out and she can communicate them to me differently now. Instead, there's a "Mommy! Come back! I miss you!" cry. And, oh, dear, though my doctor warned of a sleeping lapse in this phase, it's hard to know what to do with that at bedtime especially.
I feel immense amounts of guilt pondering all of this, and, people, guilt is considerably emotionally draining.
That very epiphany, though, revealed the real reason that I'm still so tired this far in. I can't blame it on a lack of sleep most days. And while chasing a learning-to-walk baby is exhausting, even that doesn't really explain my fatigue.
No, I am now, more than ever, exerting massive amounts of emotional energy. I'm pouring my thoughts, time, and feelings into my daughter, constantly emptying myself, in ways that I hadn't done previously.
But you know what that means? My daughter and I have clicked.
We have passed the stage where I am merely a caretaker to her. We have entered into relationship. And we are both giving and receiving.
My daughter is giving back to me too, in more ways than just being cute and my daughter. She is loving me — in every way she knows how: wanting me, reaching for me, giving kisses, and basically thinking that I am the coolest person alive.
And that is worth every drop of energy I give her and more.
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