It’s absurd. The Baby Man has a hold on us moms. Our innate competitiveness (my child WILL be the cutest kid ever) paired with our maternal instincts (my baby WILL be the most loved baby ever) have turned us into raging consumeristic, neurotic, materialistic snobs. And we don’t even realize it.
I’d watch him walk out the door (to provide for our family … or whatever) and crave that separation, that solitude, that freedom for just one day.
And to some extent, that feeling is natural, okay even.
But when missing my freedom turned into resenting my husband for his, when I began begrudging him for a choice I had made, when envy began to cast shadows on my joy, that’s when this verse jerked me into the light: Love Does Not Envy.
A couple of months ago, I blogged about going from one to two in a matter of 17 months. Essentially, I said this stuff ain’t so bad. I almost said it was easy. Since that post, I’ve documented a couple of humorous anecdotes about my two little angel-babies and the hilarity that is my life.
Hear me: I lied. Those first three months of sweet coos and peaceful nights tragically ended two months ago. And those funny stories? I’m at that “laughing about this is a better alternative to setting the house aflame and running down the street naked” stage (AKA losing my freaking mind). As of October, those good days turned into tolerable days, and those tolerable days have been few and far between. This shit is hard. Yes, I said shit. But that’s where I’m at right now. Plus, I’ve heard my dad say it before and he’s an elder at church and I’m pretty sure he’s got Sainthood status in Heaven. And I might use it again at some point in the next few minutes. Consider yourself warned.
I’d like to think of myself as a fairly emotionally balanced human being. I function normally on most days. I was raised in a healthy family, my mother a kindergarten teacher. I babysat all my life. I worked as a camp counselor and a children’s ministry intern all through college. I taught school for two years. I had 6 nieces and nephews before my first. And I genuinely like kids. If that resume doesn’t scream “motherhood-approved” I don’t know what does. I was groomed for this.
I don’t say that to tout my mom-skills but to persuade you that nobody is exempt from those dark feelings of motherhood. You know what I’m talking about. Those scary thoughts that creep into your mind at 4 o’clock in the morning when your baby has been screaming for 3 hours straight while you lie on the floor weeping beside her with the knowledge that in just a few hours another child will be waking up in need of an emotionally stable caretaker to feed her breakfast and change her diaper and smile and kiss her. I’ve had those. I’ve had them when both children are screaming into either ear for no obvious or curable reason. I’ve had them in the car, as Hattie wails for 20 minutes straight before Charlee chimes in because I forgot to bring her wa-wa, my hands literally shaking on the steering wheel as I glance down and realize I’m driving 82.
My heart aches for the Air Force mom that sits in prison for the death of her little girl. I think, “How? How could any mom EVER?” But then I wonder what it would be like to be alone, husband thousands of miles away, raising two little girls very close in age. How does one get to that dark of a place? I would imagine countless days and nights of crying and screaming and whining and aloneness and anger and resentment. Nothing could ever excuse what she did. But I’ve seen glimpses of that kind of crazy. And I’m thankful for the support system I have that she clearly didn’t.
Can we be honest with each other? Can we admit that this isn’t just hard, that some days it’s completely emotionally debilitating? Some nights I pull the covers over my head when the cries come blaring through the monitor. Some nights I put a blanket down on the floor, tired of wrestling Hattie’s writhing body in my arms, and lie next to her. And we both just lie there, crying. Some days I lie in the playroom, coffee in hand, watching my eldest maneuver toys around my comatose body. Some days I am stripped of patience for anyone, including my poor husband, whom, I expect feels like he’s walking into a minefield when he walks through the back door. Parenting is hard when there’s two of you. But thank God there’s two of you.
I just need you to know, that though I write about Hattie and Charlee having bad days as though I laughed my way through it, I most certainly did not. Some days I’m surprised that my wits lasted as long as they did. And some days my wit’s end arrives sooner than expected. This mom business is not for the faint of heart.
But, oh, the reward. My life was made more complete by my daughters. I love them with a greater capacity than I ever thought possible. I am thankful for them daily and I love them like crazy. Literally. Like crazy.
Maybe we should talk about the crazy that we feel. And maybe, then, we’ll realize that we’re not so crazy at all. That we’re normal.
At the end of some days, I think back on the day and reflect on how it went so smoothly. And then (because I never learn), I think to myself, “I’ve really got this whole parenting thing down.”
Then there are days like Wednesday.
God gives you days like the former, to remind you of how much you love your kids on days like the latter.
God gives you days like the latter, to keep your ego in check.
Coincidentally, Tuesday was one of those smooth sailing days. Love how Tuesdays seem to always happen before Wednesdays. Literally and figuratively speaking.
On Tuesday, Charlee took a three-hour nap AND Hattie was asleep for an hour-and-a-half of those three hours. That meant I had a whole entire hour-and-a-half TO.MY.SELF. Unheard of. Because of this three-hour nap (does anyone else keep singing three-hour nap to the tune of Gilligan’s Island?), Big Girl had a very difficult time falling asleep that night. She finally tuckered out around 11 pm. Hattie however, fell asleep around 7:30.
Does anyone see where this is going?
So then we have … Wednesday. Hattie wakes up at 6:15. Ugh. She eventually falls back to sleep around 8. With what I am sure is to be a long while before Charlee wakes up, I decide to get dressed — as in put on makeup and a semi-cute mom-casual outfit. WHAT? I know. It is out of character. Some days you just need to feel good about yourself, right? I think God knew what the day ahead of me held, so he offered me this nibble of confidence, knowing the rest will be completely depleted in about 12 hours.
I hear Charlee’s good morning cry at approximately 8:32: “YA YA YA YA YA YA YA.”As soon as I hear her I think, “This is bad.” Not unlike her mother, she needs an ample amount of sleep to function emotionally the following day. As I make the long walk to her bedroom, I attempt to prepare myself for what is sure to be a toddlerific Wednesday.
The day begins with breakfast… as days usually do. I’m sure you know, deciding on what to eat for breakfast is torturous some mornings. And the obvious way to convey your disgust with what your mom chooses for you is to cry at a very high pitch, as to attract all the neighborhood dogs to eat the breakfast for you. How dare I give her raspberries and yogurt. The nerve.
If I were smart, I would have recognized the spiral for what it was and kept the child quarantined all day. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt, sure that once we got out the door she would be transformed by the light. So I sat her in front of the computer (Go ahead. Judge me. I would if I weren’t me.) and proceeded to play Elmo songs on YouTube while she ate her buttered pancakes (frozen and store-bought… don’t be impressed), so that I can feed Hattie and get our stuff together for a playdate.
About 12 meltdowns later (why won’t I let her wear her boots on the wrong feet?!), I am determined to get out the door before someone dies. Our 10 o’clock date was to the local church that holds a Mom ‘n Tot time on Wednesday mornings. I walk in with Charlee, fully aware that she is teetering precariously on this tightrope of sleep deprivation, knowing her tired alter-ego could rear its ugly head at any moment.
She has a couple mini-meltdowns (a boy was walking inside a train tent, which is clearly terrifying, and a little girl took the bike she wanted to ride. B*&%$), but nothing too dramatic. Then, the final straw comes in the form of a two-year-old girl who takes a hula hoop Charlee is standing by. STANDING BY. Was she playing with it? Nope. Does she know what a hula hoop is or how to use one? Not at all. Did that pink piece of plastic symbolize all that was holding her fragile world together? Apparently.
We left in a trail of tears, a baby in each arm with the eldest screaming in one ear, the youngest’s eyes wide, like, “Mom! Make her stop!”
We recover at home before nap time.
Did I say nap time? What I meant was… she doesn’t take a nap.
C lies in her bed for an hour-and-a-half, chatting and singing … just about the only time that whole day she was pleasant. You guys. No nap. No freaking nap.
That evening, we take dinner to some of our friends. And OF COURSE she falls asleep in the car. After about 20 minutes, she wakes up. And she wakes up angry. Angry at Hattie for having to eat. Angry at her high chair for being too high. Angry at mom for not giving her TWO Gogurts.
At about 6:25, Hattie catches The Crazies from her sister and proceeds to scream, pull my hair, scratch my chest and punch me in the face for the next 3 1/2 hours. 8 gallons of gas drops later, she falls asleep. Only to wake up 22 more times before morning.
And that is the story of how I lost my mind.
Send Target. Like the whole store. Send it to me. And coffee. And a babysitter.
My husband might disagree with me, but I don’t consider myself a man basher/hater. I’m not one of those women that says in disgust, “Ugh, they just DON’T understand how hard it is to be a woman…” I have several men in my life for whom I have an enormous amount of respect and love. And seriously, I wouldn’t want to be a man. Not just because your bodies look uncomfortable to me (which they do), or because I would be missing out on some fabulous Girls’ Nights, or because being tackled looks painful and masochistic. But mainly because I think being a woman is awesome. All PMS and feminine hygiene products aside, this is a good club to be in.
Except for right now.
Other than about 12 blissful, quasi-normal weeks God squished right there in the middle for our sanity, being pregnant kinda blows. And my two fetuses haven’t even been all that mean to me (oh Princess Kate, bless your soul). I’m going to attempt to paint a picture for you, men, even though I know I don’t have the artistic skills to paint one well enough for you to ever be able to vicariously experience, empathize, or understand these life-creating, uterus-expanding, back-breaking 40 weeks that we call pregnancy.
All I know is that God chose us, exclusively, to carry, labor, and deliver your children that you implant within us. There is no “your turn.” You’re welcome.
Here are some things you might consider, though, the next time you stop feeling sorry for me or any other knocked up gal-pal:
— Bladder control? Let’s talk about that. It’s like, every 15 minutes, this tiny mite atop my bladder gains 28 pounds and starts using it as a trampoline. Well, apparently, bladder trampolines have a weight limit. And running to the toilet is not a solution. In fact, running will only expedite the inevitable. You will wet your pants when you’re pregnant. You might even think your water broke, start crying, call your doctor, your mom, and your husband thinking you’re going into preterm labor, get a sub, and go to the hospital only to be told you wet your pants. And then, you might have to go back to school forced to tell everyone that has been praying for you (EVERYONE) that “No, I, in fact, was not in labor. The doc said I peed my pants.” Yep.
— I realize that you think you are often hungry. No. You don’t know hunger. We are hungry. All the time. This hunger is the type of hunger that makes you feel like you are going to throw up if you don’t eat something RIGHT THIS SECOND. Wait… come again? Isn’t that a paradox? Yes. It’s the worst paradox in the history of the universe. Why would I want to eat a million cows when I simultaneously feel like puking? It’s inexplicable. But we do.
— Have you ever had a Charlie horse? You know, when your toes start curling and your calf starts cramping like you just ran a marathon? We could eat 13 bananas a day and still wake up at 2 am writhing in pain. It eventually passes. For about 24 hours.
— Every time we sit down, lie down, bend down, look down… our entire back becomes one giant nerve bundle of anger. Standing up is impossible without assistance. But I have halfway mastered the roll to the side, prop up on one arm, push up to the knees, and find something sturdy pull up on. I am a 78-year-old arthritic woman.
— There are no words to describe the exhaustion. Your wife is not joking when she says she literally can’t keep her eyes open. This is the tired that extends beyond drowsy, way past fatigued, right into dead-man-walking territory. Oh, did you say I’m raising another child that fully relies on my constant wit and wisdom? Welp. Maybe this next one will have better luck.
— Here’s the kicker. We can’t sleep. I know, I know. We’re so tired. That doesn’t make sense. Nothing about creating a human inside your body from a minnow and an egg makes sense. This, least of all. I will be dog tired all stinking day and go to sleep at 9, only to wake up at 3am. I will lie there, eyes closed, wide awake, for hours, willing myself to fall asleep, reminding myself that in 2 hours… 1 hour… 45 min… 10 min Charlee is going to throw her paci at me from her crib. Knowing that as soon as she wakes up, I will be ALMOST asleep, because that’s just how life works.
— I’m sorry we cry all the time. We are embarrassed by our instability. Don’t ask us why we’re crying. We don’t know. Don’t say, “Well, there must be SOME reason.” Because then we will have to think REALLY hard and we might come up with a reason that is, in fact, not the reason at all (because, seriously, there’s not one). This fake reason will sound ridiculous (because it is), turn into a huge fight and then we will just cry harder.
— Don’t get me started on what this thing does to our bodies. And don’t suggest to your baby mama that she workout. Do you remember how tired we are?
— We not only lose our bodies. We lose our minds. God grants us the ability to forget what pregnancy was like (and thus forgetting most everything else), so that we will continue to get pregnant. For example, I will walk into a room fully intending to grab something before we leave, stand there, look around, walk out of the room and walk back in trying to jog my memory, and then just leave. Then, I’ll realize once we get wherever we’re going, I have no diapers or wet-wipes. THAT’S what I went back inside for. Dang it.
While this is a rather abbreviated list of the hundreds of other (unmentionable) side-effects of pregnancy, it’s also a bit of a satire.
Don’t get me wrong, I am dead serious about all I just wrote. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s more like a walk into therapy. Physical and mental. But what an incredible experience to actually get to grow a person inside of me. I am a walking miracle. Go ahead, guys, be jealous. I am already so extraordinarily bonded to this being inside of me, and I don’t even know its name, gender, personality. I just know that I am this baby’s mom. I’m a mom. And since I get to be a mom, I think I win.
And if I’m being completely, totally, 100% truthful… there’s a part of me that actually LIKES being pregnant. I know. Mind-blowing. Nonsensical. Insane. But true.
So, dads, we’re not asking that you carry the next one. We’re not asking that you rub our feet every night or bring us breakfast in bed (but we won’t turn it down). We’re not even asking that you feel sorry for us. We just ask that you add a dollop of patience to your personality for a few months. We ask that you give us hugs when we’re being crazy, tell us we look beautiful when our faces are as round as our bums, and let us take a few naps on occasion. Because it’s not just our bellies that are changing, it’s our entire world. And we all know that we don’t have the emotional stability to handle that kind of thing right now on our own.
6. My child pooped in the bathtub two weeks ago, and I have yet to clean her bath toys. She hasn’t played with them, don’t worry. I just keep throwing in random other non-toys, like brushes, shampoo bottles, plastic balls, etc. I’m thinking that I might just trash the old and buy some new. Lazy? Or hygienically responsible?