Tuesday, February 4
Someone tell me I'm not the only one who ends up in tears when it all just gets too hard, too intense, too stressful to keep it together while handling yet another everyday parenting crisis? It feels, in the moment, like I must be the only basket case who is reduced to tears by a mere 2-year-old and one-year-old--- I mean, mamas have been having babies close together since the beginning of time, and you don't read about the pioneer women losing their cool and bawling while they struggle to finish a simple task like getting two wiggly little ones dressed after a bath.
What's my DEAL?
Today's steady decline started with one VERY wet, stinky 2.5 year old waking up with an overly-full diaper and smelling like a barnyard. It was apparent almost immediately that not only did her whole bed need to be stripped and washed, but the girl herself needed a bath. She was just FOUL. You know what? This wasn't a big deal. Unplanned daytime baths have their own charm, and I'd had a good morning so far. Quinn was in a great mood, fed already, and Noah was in school and not even part of the equation.
Lucy was NOT happy about the wet, cold, naked start to her morning, and cried the whole way to the bathroom and tried to not get in the tub... but once the warm, bubbly water filled up, she perked up. I had Quinn with me, bathroom door closed so he wouldn't be able to escape and fall down the stairs. All was going well, and I felt very much in control of the situation. Even when an overly-curious Quinn reached too far into the tub and fell in, headfirst, I was able to laugh, roll my eyes, and get him upright and say, "Well, buddy, guess you're taking a bath, too!" Lucy was a little weirded out by the fully clothed baby in her tub, but I I got him stripped down and his clothes wrung out, and we were in business.
It was still going well when I darted out to get both kids some fresh clothes and diapers, and got Quinn out to get him dried off and dressed. It fell apart only when the time came to get Lucy out. She didn't want to. And she let it be known. I wrestled her out and into a towel.... but meanwhile, the one-year-old was getting REALLY curious about the emptying bathwater again. Either that, or maybe the sorely-neglected toilet area. Where two boys happily pee in broad strokes several times a day. An area I am horrified to imagine Quinn near.
So I had to try to wrangle a wet, shivery, mad 2-year-old into clothing while constantly throwing an arm out to block Quinn from one side or the other. He was getting mad. His nose was running in streams of goopy snot. Lucy's dress wouldn't go over one arm because the arm was still dampish and the fabric was catching. Nothing was happening in an efficient manner because I couldn't focus on just one task at a time. Quinn got more persistent AND more angry. Lucy cried because I was tugging her arm too hard. I was kneeling on a hard tile floor and starting to ache from the posture, and yeah-- I lost it. I burst into tears of my own. WHY WAS THIS SO HARD? Surely it should be no big deal to get two kids two and under out of a tub and dressed without incident. Yet all of us were crying and mad, and I felt TOTAL defeat. How was this so hard? Why was this STILL hard for me to manage, this life as a mama-of-little-ones?
It really colored my day. Drained me. Defeated me before I'd really gotten a foothold on the day. I was tender-emotioned and raw the rest of the day. Many other things pricked at my tear ducts. I managed to take care of my kiddos pretty well the rest of the day--- they all ate regular meals and got snuggles and mom-time.... But the toll on my own spirit had been taken. I was achy inside the rest of the day. ANY external stresses that came the rest of the day, and there were a few, felt bigger than they probably were. Any external requests on my time and energy and attention made me feel extremely stressed and resentful. I wanted EVERYONE and EVERYTHING to leave me ALONE.
The build-up of all of this resulted in some cathartic crying as I stole a hot shower while the kids all rested/napped for Quiet Time..... I could tell that the knot in my chest was working towards a good cryfest.... And it really did help. Just letting it out, letting the steam and hot water pummel my aches until they calmed down a little....
(Practicing some gratitude in the midst of YUCK)...
And the rest of the day was just an exercise in letting go. Putting a big HOLD on the to-do list, grinding the thoughts to a halt, taking time to laugh with my mom friends in our Facebook group, and then letting Joe take me in his arms for a big, great hug when he came home from work early, trying to beat the worst of the snow coming down. Letting Joe take on a bit more of the evening work than he probably should have. The evening has been an exercise in forgiving myself.
I don't have lofty and marvelous conclusions. But I do have a couple of observations, as I have made my way through this rocky day.
1. When my deep-felt emotions have been scraped open, leaving me raw in sad ways, I am also more open to tender and sweet emotions. Today was the day that Facebook gave all of us a10-yr anniversary montage of our own Facebook history. The little videos have been ALL over FB today. And nearly every one has moved me, made me feel little brilliant bursts of total joy and natsukashii. Not just mine, but my friends' as well. I've felt more attuned to lovely words and moments, more aware of the good. More quick to tears in general. Happy, sad, frustrated, wistful-- all of those kinds of tears. Maybe when these raw days happen, I can let ALL the feelings flow over and through me and just be grateful to be so blessed to have the richness of these experiences. It's LIFE, after all.... all of it. Lucky me.
2. When I first had three kiddos, it was HARD. Then it got easier. I thought I'd "made it through". But now it's hard again. And it's VERY easy to see this as falling backwards, messing up, failing. I had gotten it figured out. Why is it hard to keep that going? But it occurred to me today that what has happened recently is that both of my youngest kiddos have been slowly, steadily entering a MUCH needier stage of life. Each of them completely different from the other, but both supremely, intensely needy.
The almost-three year old is finally getting her verbal footing, and as such has begun to try her hand at whining and repeating herself over and over until she's given what she wants. She is very dramatic and demanding and touchy about Quinn invading her space. All of this is frosted with a thick layer of her newfound language development, and she gets very exhausting very quickly.
The newly-one-year old is a mobile terror. He is persistent and brave and clever and daring and as such, he is a menace to himself and therefore demands nearly 100% of my attention 100% of the time. He doesn't think he needs it, but trust me: he needs it.
Add to the mix the oldest kiddo, who has NEVER stopped needing constant dialogue and validation and participation in his games and ideas, and I am surrounded by a level of CONSTANT NEED that is crazy-making. It's at a frenzied climax right now. Surely I can hope that one or another of these children will CALM THE FRACK DOWN and settle into an easier stage sooner than later, right? Give me a break??
3. I gotta get more rest somehow. I don't know how. I laugh bitterly at the concept. But I need to get more rest. Can anyone tell me how many days of good sleep might do me some good? Maybe I can commit to a set stretch of early nights, just to reset. Is this wishful thinking? Like a "fad diet", but for sleep? Yo-yo sleeping?
I am not this crazy crying lady every day. I have some days where I want to grab anyone near me by the arm and say, (probably with a dangerously wild look in my eyes): " See this? See all three of my kids dressed in seasonally appropriate clothing, ALL in the car at the same time with little fuss, happily listening to the Frozen soundtrack while I drive through the bank to make a deposit and then head to Target for diapers? This is like AMAZING. I'm DOING this Mom-thing, yo."
Or, "Look! Look at me sitting at the McDonald's Playplace [don't even judge. Just don't. I don't care.] with all of my kids, who I brought here BY MYSELF so they could get some much needed exercise and kid interaction. I'm dressed, they're dressed, I have makeup on, I remembered to pack food AND A BIB for Quinn, and my kids are eating their apples without me telling them to. I AM AMAZING. I got this."
Some days, I GOT THIS.
Today wasn't one of those days. But I got some catharsis by crying in the bathroom, TWICE, and for now, the knot in my chest is gone, and believe it or not, I'm ready to try again tomorrow. Thank heaven for a fresh starts every new day.
Posted by Emily S. at 11:23 PM