The Gremlins Are Not Pleased

I’ve always had a fairly decent sense of self-esteem.

In general, I like who I am. I’m capable, I’m dependable, I am worthy. I am enough.

But nothing – I mean NO-THING – has tested that like motherhood. Especially being a mom to demanding toddlers.

I am not a people-pleaser, generally. Yes, I like praise and I like to be liked, but I usually don’t bend over backwards juuust so that people will like me, or to try and make people happy. But gosh-freaking-dammit, some days there is no pleasing my kids.

They’re bored at home, or they tear the house apart, and so I plan to be out of the house for hours. That requires packing lunches and snacks the night before. And then I have to pack water, hats, swim suits, towels, change of clothes, sunscreen, flares, a hunting knife, the kitchen sink, etc, etc.

It’s a struggle to even get out of the house. My kids’ bowels let loose milliseconds before I try and get them in the car. And of course when I’m trying to get them to leave, they want to stay.

We get there, and they want to play but my daughter’s poopy AGAIN and I have to literally drag them both to the bathroom. I discover I only have one wipe. I finish the job with toilet paper, assuming I’ll be ok as long as I replenish before the next outing (**foreshadowing alert**). After that ordeal, they no longer want to play. So I grudgingly give a snack (string cheese, in an effort to scare their poop back up into their intestines for several hours), even though they practically just had breakfast.

I have to convince them to go play and leave me the frick alone. By convince, I mean I yell at them and get the side-eye from a neighboring mom. Then my son is too cold, or too hot, or too wet (too wet. at the splash. pad.) or bored, or wants to go home, or wants to eat more.

I finally give in and start breaking out the lunch and they WON’T SIT TO EAT IT. Suddenly they’d rather play. Mother of god.

Then, after smearing peanut butter all over my waterproof mat and daring the nearby honey bees to sting them, they gradually eat every morsel of food I brought, while I normally have to BEG them to eat a proper meal when I feed them at home. I actually stopped eating food meant for me and gave it to them instead. And by “gave it to them,” I mean they basically intercepted it on its journey between its container and my mouth.

Of course, they want to keep playing the second I declare we’re packing up to go.

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But guess what, my kid has a poopy diaper YET FUCKING AGAIN (I swear, I’m never letting my kids go berry picking unless they’re gonna be exclusively in someone else’s care 24-48 hours afterward), so eleventy minutes later, after scraping off a layer of buttskin trying to get my daughter clean with translucent, public bathroom tissue paper, we’re trudging to the car.

My kids scream for water and snacks the entire way home. I turned up the radio and swore silently in my head.

When I asked them, they both confirm they had a marvelous time. Hello, do I know you? Were we all at the same place, having the same experience? Because days like that make me feel like I can’t do anything right, like it doesn’t matter what I do – everything still blows up in my face, like I can’t win, like I’m not enough, like parenting is a buttload of work, and why do I even put forth all that effort to leave the house? Seriously, is it even worth it?

Depends on the day.

 

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Off on the Wrong Foot

This week, I injured my foot and everything kinda came to a screeching halt.

I was making sure my fearless 1 year old didn’t kill herself on this play structure meant for older kids. I climbed up this wooden ladder whose rungs were pretty close together. My right foot got stuck between the rungs, and in my haste to protect my child, I wrenched it free and immediately felt pain across the top of my foot.

That’s gonna be a nasty bruise, I thought.

The pain subsided, I kept functioning normally for the next 2-3 hours. I drove my kids home, fed them, put my daughter down for a nap, and then relaxed on the couch with my son for 1.5 hours. Then I got up and rushed around to walk to a friend’s house.

On the walk there, my foot started bothering me. By the time we got there, I had some pain. By the time 30 minutes passed, I was limping and in serious pain. I stopped walking and texted my husband to come get me.

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I’m super stubborn and don’t really trust doctors a whole lot. (I’ve had some yucky experiences with medical professionals who think they’re hot shit.) My intuition about my body is usually right, and I was pretty sure it was just a bad sprain (spoiler alert- I was right). I toughed it out for the past 3 days by staying off my foot, icing, meds.

But uuuuugggghhhh. I’m a SAHM with a 1 and 3 year old. How in the world am I supposed to function on crutches?!? I couldn’t go anywhere, because I couldn’t chase after my kids and keep them safe. Forget parks. Even the library was out. I didn’t trust myself to drive my kid to preschool. Everything took for-ev-er. Worst of all, I couldn’t carry anything. A glass of water, a book, putting food on the table, you name it. I couldn’t carry my daughter! I had to hobble to her changing table, then stand there and beg her to come to me so I could change her diaper. You can imagine how well that went.

Very quickly I could feel depression start to creep in. I was a prisoner in my house with two screaming kids and I was supposed to put my feet up?! There was no way I could function like that for very long at all; I felt the walls start to close in on me after not too much time had passed.

Fast forward to today when I finally decided to go to the doctor. (My foot started to turn purple and get tingly if I was upright for too long. Yeeeah.) Just a sprain, but it was worth the trip because they gave me a boot so I have mah freeeeeeedom back (to a degree) and my mood immediately perked up.

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Earlier this week, I started thinking about what I was supposed to learn from this. Whenever I’m frustrated the answer is usually patience and acceptance. No surprise here. As always happens when I temporarily lose some kind of function, I was immediately reminded of how crazy thankful I am to be able-bodied. Also, remembering how and when to ask for help. If needing the crutches had gone on much longer, I was planning to call my mom in California to ask her to fly up here…because what else was I gonna do?!

I loathe feeling so helpless and desperate, especially caused by something so minor, so silly. Damn children’s playstructure. Curse you and the trees from which you were made.

Like Nothing Had Ever Happened

This post was after a particularly shitty day, told in the third person. I’m sure many parents can relate.


NaBloPoMo Day 25

Psychobabble

It started like any ordinary day.

And that’s the thing – these days, most days were just that – ordinary.  Sure, some moments stuck out for better or for worse, but they were mostly spent in the monotony of keeping her kid safe, clothed, fed, occupied.

As she lied in bed, she could hear her son happily babbling over the baby monitor.  He rarely woke up in a bad mood.  She got up and started her usual routine of making the bed, getting dressed, dragging a brush through her hair, and then she went to go get her son.

As soon as she opened his bedroom door, the stale odor of his poopy diaper floated out to greet her.  And then she could see, under her smiling, blond baby boy, that his crib sheet was quite soiled.

She sighed.

First things first, she thought, Diaper change, then strip the…

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Things Motherhood Has Brought to My Attention

  1. My patience (though it runs short at times), overall, runs deeper than I ever could have imagined.
    • Sure, I lose it and blow up at my kids. Just this morning I stomped on the floor and yelled when my son spat out cereal onto the floor. But, for that one time of losing it, I experience at least 50 more times when I’ve stuck with it, dug deep, and kept my cool beyond what I thought was possible of myself in that moment. And I have no idea how that happens. That’s a lie; yes I do.
  2. Being a mom has brought my and my family’s mortality into sharp focus, causing me to make decisions based on whether or not I’d have regrets on my deathbed.
    • This may sound horribly morbid, and while it is morbid, I don’t think it’s horrible. Watching my kids grow up like weeds before my eyes reminds me how short and precious life really is, and this just shoves all the important stuff front and center.
  3. I don’t have control over anything. Like, at all.
    • While this is easy to type and easy for my intellectual brain to grasp, my emotional core is still working on accepting it. I have a feeling I’ll always come back to rage-cleaning the kitchen when I feel like my life is more out of control than normal.
  4. Working with a partner to try and raise two healthy, happy, fed, (mostly) clothed, well-adjusted kids is the hardest thing ever.
    • What threw me on this one is that I thought the hardest thing ever would be staying at home, by myself, with these kids all day everyday. And yes, when Daddy is home I get the physical help with the child-wrangling. But, when he’s not here there’s no discussion about what there is to be done (unless you count the one constantly running through my head) – I just do it. There’s no need to communicate, “Ok, you do this and I’ll do that” I just do it all. There’s no need to scream at the other person, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! WE’RE LATE!” because, during the day, it’s just me. Often, the effort it takes to try and work together and delegate and communicate (read: scream to each other over the din of also-screaming children), is so exhausting that it feels easier to just bare down and do it all. (Does anyone else feel this way? I feel like I did a shit job of explaining what I mean, because I am in NO WAY ungrateful for the job my husband does raising our kids and keeping the household together. There’s no way I could do this job alone and stay sane.)
  5. I can do more on little sleep than I ever thought possible.
    • I don’t function well on little sleep. I turn into a rabid zombie chainsaw killer. While I still suffered (still suffer-ing, actually) with each kid, there’s just something amazingly tender and potent about your chillins that make you want to do the opposite of kill them, even on scary few hours of sleep.
  6. (Going along with the previous point) Never underestimate the power of naps.
    • Naps come from heaven. Naps are good for all involved. Covet them. Create time for them. Force them if you have to.
  7. I need free time to feel like myself.
    • This wasn’t obvious to me when I had a whole shit-ton of free time, but it sure is now.
  8. I have a feeling that raising these kids is going to be my life’s most important work (with therapy a close second).
    • My kids will be kind, thoughtful, compassionate, productive human beings if it’s the only thing I do.
  9. I am really good at this mom gig. Like, I kick ass at it.
    • Seriously. As hard as it is, even though I constantly make mistakes and lose my cool. I learn from those mistakes, I model how to say sorry and repair the damage. I remember doctor’s appointments. I know where 90% of the toys are in my house at any given time. I keep my house more than bearably clean. I can get two kids diaper changed, dressed, fed, potty, shoes, socks, jackets, car seats, out the door in 45 minutes. You heard me! I get fairly good sleep. I make my bed everyday. I help keep our cat alive (wait, we have a cat too?!). I pack for vacations and camping trips and beach trips and walks to the park…and I remember 99% of all the things we could ever need in case of the zombie apocalypse. I do the laundry AND FOLD IT. AND PUT IT AWAY! Sometimes that only takes a week to complete. I remember to buy toilet paper. I remember birthdays and parties and shopping for gifts for said parties. And wrapping the damn present for said said parties. Not to mention remembering to BRING said wrapped present to said parties. I kiss boo-boos and give hugs and make lunches and clean up. I clean up all fucking day.

…and then, after all that, I get up and do it again the next day, and the next, and the next.


NaBloPoMo Day 7

I’m Gonna Love You Anyway

(Note: this post was started several long/short months ago.  So when I wrote words like “recently,” they were true at the time, but now I’m just lying.)

My friend, who is a new mom, introduced me to this podcast called The Longest Shortest Time, about early parenthood.  I have started listening to it at night while getting ready for bed in my bathroom and pumping boobjuice at the same time. #momboss

This podcast is extremely validating and makes me feel less alone in my isolated SAHM daily life.

I recently listened to podcast #25, which started out with several moms singing songs they had made up for their kids.  The narrator (creator? producer?) framed the segment by saying that the songs we make up often reflect big themes in our parenting journey.

Now, I make up songs for my kids a lot.  Like, a lot-a lot.  The one we still use the most often (while cleaning up after meals) is Crotchfood.  Behold:

Crotch food, crotch food, food that’s in your crotch.

Crotch food, crotch food, foooooooood…that’s in your crotch!

It’s a real crowd pleaser.

The podcast reminded me of this one tuneless ditty that I made up when my oldest, my son, was very tiny.  I needed something to hold his attention during diaper changes when he’d be thrashing and I’d be weeping.  I’m having trouble remembering all the verses but it went something like this:

Even when you cry

I’m gonna love you an-ny way, an-ny way, an-ny way.

Even when you poop

I’m gonna love you an-ny way, an-ny way, an-ny way.

(insert more verses as needed)

…Because I am your mom.

I was having a rough time bonding with my son and coming to terms with being a new mom, staying at home, living in Oregon, and feeling isolated and depressed.  Reading these lyrics back, I realize I was reminding myself why I became a mom.  I was willing myself to fall more in love with my little guy, especially when it felt the hardest.  We were both struggling, but it was my job to get him (and myself) through it all…so I used the simplest, most available tool I had.  Song.  And it turned out to be very powerful indeed.


NaBloPoMo Day 6

 

Wordless Wednesday: Snack time

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Gah, aaaand it’s blurry.  FML.

This psycho-mommy is trying to get her blogging ass back in gear.  I have no idea who actually reads this thing anymore.  Helloooo?!  Who’s out there?  If you’re still there, or are just joining me, I want to hear from you- leave a comment!

And yes, I know this is wordless Wednesday, but I decided to make an exception.  I blame the wine.

Like what you see?  Then like me on Facebook!

Follow this blog by hitting the button on the upper right!

 

 

Choosing to suffer

A friend of mine recently posted a video on Facebook.

This video seemed to be some kind of veterinarian (Dr. Andy Roark) speaking at a veterinarian conference, about veterinarian things.

Only, those things were applicable to all of us and I found that his message really stuck with me.

He began by speaking about the different between joy and happiness.  That joy is fleeting; it’s unsustainable.  It’s an amazing feeling, and it’s often why we do the work we do, but it’s just a glimpse.  And happiness is “full of pain.”  He said, “Buddhist philosophy says that life is suffering.”  It made me think of the far more lighthearted quote from The Princess Bride.

 

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It’s true.

But I had heard all this before.  The part that got me was that he said, “The best thing that we can do is choose how we suffer.”  He went into an example of losing a beloved pet, and how much grief and suffering that caused him.  But it was suffering he chose, and would choose again.  He said, he could have chosen not to get a dog to avoid the suffering of eventually losing him, but he would’ve suffered a little each day coming home to an empty house.

And that’s when I got it for me.

Right now, I’m suffering.  I’m struggling.  Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m happy…but, by this guy’s definition, this is happiness.  It’s not JOY all day every day, (which is what too many people think happiness should be) but that wouldn’t make for a very meaningful life, for without suffering there is no joy.

There was one time when I was really breaking down about what a shit time I’d been having slogging through mommyhood, and someone said to me, “…but you’ve chosen this.  You wanted this.”

Yes, I’ve wanted to be a mom pretty much my whole life.  I wasn’t sure I could physically be a biological mom for an entire decade, but miraculously, here I am.  I planned this, I actively participated in building this life.  And man is it HARD.  Did I want all the suffering that comes with this?  Of course not.  I don’t want it and I don’t like it, but I chose it.

I chose it over the suffering of not having kids.  Feeling like there was something profoundly missing in my life.  Feeling like my family was incomplete.  Grieving the loss of kids not here.  Having a house that was too big, too quiet.  Too clean?  (Maybe there’s no such thing as too clean.)

Make no mistake, though: just because I chose the suffering that comes with raising kids, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to do just that…suffer.  Complain.  Lament.  Break down.  Have regrets.  Be human.  So yes, I did choose this.  But I get to own it, too.  Just as I get to own the glimpses of joy that peek through.  The hugs, wet kisses, sleepy bed-head faces.

I need to keep reminding myself that joy and suffering are not mutually exclusive.  And I need to keep reminding myself why I chose to suffer this way.

How do you choose to suffer?

 

 

 

 

Math beans, hot coffee, and lunch standing up

You guys.

I just experienced the most amazing thing.  You have no idea.  Or maybe you do.  It’s worth its weight in gold, and I think it’s going to end up being my savior.

What is this magic, you ask?

It’s called PRE. SCHOOL.

OMG, you guys.  My oldest had his first day yesterday and it was HEAVEN ON EARTH.

He was excited to go and the drop off was a breeze.  I squatted down to give him a little peptalk, told him I loved him, asked for a hug, and I got a little choked up for a second and then sucked it back because I didn’t want to lose it in front of him, and then…we left.  And he was HAPPY.  Playing with the math beans.  Preschool has “math beans,” who knew?

I went home dazed.  I had no idea what to do.  I hadn’t planned this out.  Usually I have A PLAN.  Well…first things first, I made coffee.  And drank it HOT.  You heard me.  Holy crap, you guys, hot coffee tastes GREAT.  It tastes like preschool tuition well-spent.  And then I went on FACEBOOK.  Because I don’t go on there enough, amirite? I made sure to feed and diaper my youngest, but then…she fell. ASLEEP.  And then my head exploded because now I was really lost in mommy fantasyland.

So I did the dishes, put away laundry, and started to pack for my FIRST WEEKEND EVER AWAY FROM MY KIDS (but that’s a whole other post entirely).

I ate lunch.  MY OWN LUNCH.  It was hot.  I didn’t have to share.  I still ate standing up for some reason, because hey, let’s not get too comfortable here.

When I picked up the boy after what felt like 20 glorious minutes in heaven, he was still HAPPY.  And, ladies and gentlemen, he was still wearing the same shorts as when I dropped him off.  Which can only mean (and was confirmed by asking the teacher) that he DIDN’T PEE HIS PANTS on the first day.  Angels were singing, my friends.

We came home, he ate the rest of his half-eaten lunch (score!) and then HE TOOK A NAP.

The best part – we get to do this THREE. TIMES. A. WEEK.

Preschool tuition tastes like heaven in this mommy’s mouth.

(I think I’ve lost the ability to complete a coherent thought now, but I think you know what I mean.)

Can you smell the shit?

My kid does this thing where he behaves beautifully in public, when we’re in front of other people.

And when we’re at home, or in the car, especially when I’m the only adult around, he’ll completely break down and fall apart.  Worse yet, lately he’s been misbehaving on purpose.  Taking things from his sister, doing the opposite of what I’ve asked, throwing things, etc.

Let me be clear – overall, my kid is very well behaved.  He’s always been quite mellow, a rule follower, compliant, agreeable.  It’s great, he’s great, and I know I’m very lucky.  While I’d love to take all the credit for his amazing disposition, I know that he was just partially born that way, and partially due to my (mostly) awesome parenting (plus the much more patience-filled parenting job his dad does).

What sucks, aside from me having to deal with the breakdowns (unintentional) and the defiant threenager behavior (intentional), is that my mommy friends usually just see compliant, agreeable Dudeman.  This sets up a dynamic where I don’t feel like there’s room for me to complain about my situation.

It’s the little comments and compliments like, “Wow, he’s so well behaved!” or, “I could never imagine D doing something like that!”  There’s a mix of emotions that comes with hearing these.  On one hand, the compliments are very nice and very well received.  There’s a certain amount of mommy pride that comes with the reputation for having The Good Kid.  On the other hand, like I said before, I can’t complain about the bad times and feel like I am being believed because no one ever sees them.  It makes me want to wear a GoPro or one of those police body cams so I can catch D-man in action and then play it for my mommy friends.

See?!  See THAT?!  He was just a total asshole to me! 

I guess I just want to feel accepted.  I want to be part of the club.  I army crawl through the trenches and slog through blood and piss and shit just like y’all.  Even if you don’t see it.

And now that I type this, I find myself laughing on the inside because I’ve always thought of myself as one of those moms who didn’t care if she didn’t look put together.  At least, I care about sleep more than I care about looking put together…because I’m not.  But, with D’s behavior, it’s not like I’m hiding anything.  He’s just more likely to behave when he’s being stimulated and is around other fun people and kids, which is when we’re hanging out with the mom friends.  It’s when we’re alone and sick or bored or tired or hungry that he’s more likely to push my buttons and test boundaries.  Totally normal, I keep reminding myself.  (More than normal, even, because he’s testing me because he is safe and loved with me)  There’s just a part of me that wants to wear some of that blood and piss and shit on my sleeve as proof that I’ve been to war.  Maybe a purple heart would be less smelly.

So obviously I’ve realized that, as a stay at home mom, I want a witness to my suffering and my hard work.  It’s like when you want your boss to say, Great job, Janice! (if your name was Janice. If not, that would just be weird), but you’re doing the kind of work that when it’s done right and done well, no one notices.  This is why, almost every day when my husband gets home from work, I insist on giving him a detailed play-by-play of my entire day.  I need him to hear my struggle, see my pain, congratulate me for getting through it and being such a badass.

And now I’ve come full circle, I’ve realized, to my last post.  Because I feel invisible, the work I do is invisible, and my struggles are also invisible, I find myself searching for witnesses.  Empathy.  Validation.

Can you smell the shit?