Monday, October 24, 2016

Fairy Tale Ending

I love a good fairy tale.  Cinderella is my favorite, but most romantic comedies leave me feeling gooey inside. The idea of happily ever after is beautiful.

And, I must admit, I have been extremely blessed in the fairy-tale department.  Before meeting my husband, I was able to step back from the stories that consume my thoughts and realize that every story is colored by my own expectations and a lot of help from storytellers.  Reality inspires the stories, but stories are meant so we can dream; the two rarely match.  Partly because of that realization, and partly because I really did marry the best man in the world, my marriage is pretty ideal.

We met, dated, got married, and proceeded with our happily ever after.  We expected jobs, kids, trials and triumphs.  And, with some unexpected hiccups, and even more unexpected blessings, that's exactly what the last nine years have brought us.

I made a mistake, though.

See, I've never been particularly enamored with children, and before I had my own, I was unable to admit that to myself.  At least, not to the degree that I actually felt it.

But, I wanted a family.  I believe in family.  Family is very important, and children are a part of that.  So, when I heard, "It's different with your own kids.  You'll love them more than you've ever loved anything," I bought into it.  I saw the idyllic pictures of peaceful mothers holding quiet infants, or mostly-naked babies smiling up out of bright flowers, and I believed.

And, for the last 7 years, I've struggled to continue believing.  It really has been a struggle.  I knew that sleep deprivations would happen.  Messes would happen.  Whining would happen.  I got that, and I've dealt with it, sometimes valiantly, sometimes not.  One of the hardest things for me about motherhood, though, is that I rarely feel that inexplicable bond that many mothers report.  Being paid in occasional smiles and sticky hugs occasionally makes up for the nastiness that comes with motherhood, but only in the moment in which I am receiving them.  The rest of the time?  Yeah, motherhood sucks like 90% of that time.

I bought into the fairy tale, and it was a slap in the face when the fairy tale didn't match reality.

Now, just to clarify a few things... my children are fantastic.  They are all intelligent, exuberant, and sweet in their own ways.  They're confident.  They're happy.  They're remarkably responsible, given their young ages. I'm well aware that the struggles I'm going through are my own, and not based on the personalities of my little brood.

Also, I love my children.  I even feel that love sometimes.  Most of the time, the love I have for them looks like the commitment I have to make sure they get fed and clothed.  Most of the time, it looks like pretending I have patience for all of the things they can't do.  Entirely too often, it looks like hiding in my bedroom, because I can't say anything nice and so I'm choosing to say nothing at all.  Sometimes, it looks like sucking it up and playing their games with them.  Often, it looks like trying to see them for the people that they are rather than the kids they currently can't help being.

Motherhood is the messiest business I've ever been in. I'm not talking about the tongue-in-cheek, "Oh, you'll miss these days," "It's hard but I wouldn't trade it for anything," type of messy.  I'm talking about soul-wrenching, gut twisting, losing all belief in yourself and most of what is good in this world as you clean up yet another puddle of pee type of messy.  So, I'm stepping away from the fairy tale.  Motherhood is not beautiful.  Most of the time, it is not even joyous.  But, somehow, buried deep under all the hormones and the laundry and the years and the mac and cheese, it is worthwhile.

Because, while mostly I don't like motherhood, I do have hope.  I choose to believe that they will grow up into cool people.  I hope that we will all enjoy one another as we grow together.  I look forward to the day when we'll be able to play interesting games together, or talk about a book we've all read, or a movie we all enjoy.  I have hope that they will grow into self-sufficient people, and that someday we will stand on more even footing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Repeating Years

Childhood is a magical time.  Kids change so quickly in so many ways... especially in retrospect.  It seems like two months ago that we brought home our first sweet baby girl.  She turned 7 this year.  I honestly don't remember much about the intervening years, except to say that our babies are no longer babies.

Well, except the one, but we really did bring her home 2 short months ago.  (It's funny how the first two months of a baby's life fly by soooooo much faster than the last two months of pregnancy!)

Overall, things are going very well.  For one thing, baby 4 is only waking up once each night, which means that life is returning to some semblance of normalcy.  For another, I am feeling so much better than I was two months ago it's almost ridiculous.  I still can't take normal-size steps because of pain in my hips, but even with that, I can move!  It's beautiful.

And so, it's time to start putting our lives back in order.  I need to keep up with the laundry, do the dishes, make sure everybody gets enough food each day and at least one bath per week.  Beyond that, I'd really like to do a little deep cleaning every day... just to make our house feel livable again.

Here's how a typical day goes:
Wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby.
Wake up, bleary-eyed, earlier than I'd like (given the night feeding) to feed the baby again.
Thank my lucky stars that my husband is good at mornings and takes care of the kids before work.
Take a nap after baby eats, and hope it makes up for the night feeding.  (It usually doesn't, but it helps.)
Get up and get dressed.
Change a diaper.
Get food for myself.
Remind kids to work on school.
Get lunch for kids.
Work on dishes while they eat.
Remind kids to work on school.
Change a diaper.
Work on laundry.
Remind kids to work on school.
Work on cleaning up the table in the front room.
Correct school work.
Continue to work on cleaning up the table in the front room.
Correct school work again.
"Yes, you can go outside.  You should probably put on a sweatshirt; it's cold outside."
"I don't know where your shoes are.  Where did you put them?"
"You should put your sweatshirt on."
"Because it's cold outside."
"Where did you put your shoes when you took them off?"
"Didn't you just get water?"
"Yes, it's a good idea to go to the bathroom before you go outside."
"You're going to be cold if you don't put on your sweatshirt."
"Because the weather is getting colder outside."
Try to work on the table some more.  (Didn't I get this cleaned off two days ago?)
"You need another drink of water?"
"Yes, by all means, please go to the bathroom."
"I told you you needed a sweatshirt.  It's cold outside, right?"
Work on laundry.
Change a diaper.
Feed the baby.
Burp the baby.
"Oh, your shoes were outside?  That's no good.  I'm glad you found them."
Put the baby down for a nap and hope that she sleeps.
Turn back to the blasted table.
Turn back around and pick the baby back up.
Give up on the day because the baby won't let me do anything else.
Stupid table still needs attention.
Laundry is piled all over my bedroom, but at least I've made some progress.

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow?

Childhood is supposedly a magical time... for the children.  :)  I find that the simple tasks I would like to get out of the way so I can enjoy my life become infinitely more difficult and time-consuming with small children running around.  Conversations take infinitely longer.  Tasks must be repeated 12 times before they can be considered done, because curious and exuberant children undo them just so fast.

Super-moms, how do you do it?

Drowning in a never-ending mess