Monday, June 30, 2014

Better For It

The day I found out I was pregnant with Cordelia was such an exciting time. I remember feeling great joy and anticipation for tender moments and relishing in the beauty of infancy and childhood, but that night as I lay down to simply go to sleep I knew that things were going to change. I lay my hand on my still flat belly and thought of the baby that was growing somewhere in there and I realized that sleep, even the fitful sleep of the chronic insomniac, was about to be taken away from me. I imagined that I'd have trouble getting enough sleep for the first year of motherhood. I had visions of serenely putting our child down under a moonlit glow. Perhaps I'd softly sing and nod off in a rocking chair. Ha ha! The reality is that I have slept through one night (ONE!) since sometime before Cordelia was born, so some time in 2009. Sure, there have been moments of serenity, but there are also moments when I have endured throat punches and donkey kicks to the gut from my offspring as they wailed at three in the morning. Sometimes I handle those moments with the grace and dignity of a saint. More often than not I find myself wiping drool from the corner of my mouth as I mumble to my innocent child, "What's your deal kid?"

The past week month nearly five years has been extremely challenging because motherhood (really parenthood) is crazy complicated. I mention the sleep thing because it has really added an edge to parenthood that I didn't properly anticipate. Yes, there are the expected childhood temper tantrums from time to time, but man alive are they difficult to navigate in a mature fashion when you are operating on three hours of sleep and something, somewhere, smells like poo.

Motherhood is tricky business. Yep, everyone says that I know, but really it is super duper tough if you are trying to do it right. Some days I am like mom of the century. We do mom school and crafting, nature hikes, snuggles, books, fun, games, etc. Those days are so great, the kids are darling and I think, "Why is everyone so weird about how tough motherhood is?" Then there are days like yesterday. Somewhere in the night Elise found her way to our bed, she was cradled in my arms at such a way that I still have a kink in my neck. I had just gotten her to sleep after some sort of situation with a leg cramp and I was drifting off into that place that some people refer to as sleep (can't be sure as I haven't been there for quite some time) when I heard the familiar thud of Cordelia's footsteps (she weighs 30 pounds but you'd never know it by her thunderous stomps). Desperate for sleep I called her to bed for a snuggle. I kind of started to drift off when Cordelia started obsessively sniffing. I told her to grab a kleenex, she did. Back in bed then I was just drifting off, one arm under each girl, Eric crammed way over to his side, when Cordelia pulled my hair and whispered loud enough to wake Elise. Sigh, we were was 5am.

From there on out is was a whine festival throughout much of the day. Both girls were tired and cranky, but I couldn't get a nap out of them---it was like trying to squeeze water from a stone. So I endured. I worked to distract, engage, entertain, anything. The mood fluctuated in such a way that I felt like this must surely be what it is like to actually be insane. When we ran to the store as a family later in the day Eric broke off to track down an item and then he texted me to find out where we were in the store. My response was, "Just listen for the whining." He did and was able to track us down. When we got home it was dinner, some time outs, some whining. I was at my limit. Eric had band practice and I needed a change of scenery so I leashed up the dogs and put the girls into the stroller (yes one person with two dogs and two kids is a sight to see) and we went outside.

Cordelia had brought along a sketch book and was sketching what she saw. She would ask me to guess each drawing. The dogs trotted merrily along. Elise happily chattered. It was good. I was happy. We were all happy. Then it hit me, this business isn't even supposed to be easy is it? I mean, what would be the point if it was all smooth sailing? Yesterday was a rough day, but we got through it and I learned a lot about myself and our children. I learned that I can handle a lot, a lot more than I ever knew. I mean yesterday was hard, but I have endured really terrible days and a whiney kid day is no big deal. Yesterday was an opportunity, it just took me most of the day to realize that fact. I had the opportunity to choose how I reacted. I got to see some of my strengths (I can come up with some awesome activities) and weaknesses (I get a little lot sarcastic when I am stressed and tired). Now it is my job to become better for it, better for these girls, better for myself. Every day is a lesson learned and that is one of the best parts of parenthood.


Stacy said...

Great perspective. My little one is (finally) asleep in the swing. It's too humid, making the grump worse. But he's such a blessing. <3

Marie Roxanne said...

Thanks for this post, it is really a challenge to be a parent and you do it well.

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