Oh, The Humanity

I promise I didn't write that last post with the intention of not posting again for almost two weeks.

The day after that post, I woke Nicholas up from his nap (the mere fact that he did nap instead of singing show tunes in his crib for an hour should have been my first clue that something was up) to discover the poor baby covered in massive amounts of vomit. 20 minutes after I woke him, I was due to pick up Isabella from preschool. I quickly changed his clothes, picked chunks of puke out of his hair, woke up Luci, got them into their winter gear, loaded them into their carseats and drove with the window down in 20-degree weather because the smell, OMGTheSmell, was so awful, to preschool.

Nicholas bounced back pretty quickly. The rest of us were not as lucky. Late Friday night, I came down with the stomach flu. The next day, Isabella and Luci were down too. And on Monday of last week, the hubs got it too. My flu lasted the longest. I was out of commission, and basically too weak to even walk across the room until Tuesday. The hubs had to take two days off of work, because I literally could not even stand up without feeling as if I was going to pass out.

The hubs and I spent Valentine's Day taking turns sleeping in our bed, while the other laid on the couch playing kid shows off our DVR for the Triple Threat and praying not to die. For once, I was glad that 80% of the space is taken up by the likes of Sesame Street, Olivia, and Little Bear.

Relatives, terrified to catch the flu, dropped off food on our porch, and then ran like the wind back to their cars, lest some disease-ridden air particles from the inside of our house seep under the door and into their nostrils. I can't say I blamed them. Our entire house was a festering mess of vomit-stained clothes, dirty dishes, and toys that had not been cleaned up in days.

Mamacita started her visit early, and thankfully came into town last Wednesday (instead of Sunday) to help me once the hubs went back to work. I was better, but still really weak, and there was no way I could have handled the kids in my condition.

We are all better now, thankfully, but I never, ever, want to repeat those five days again.


I thought the comments on my last post were really interesting, and I glad so many of you decided to take the time to leave one, especially you long-time lurkers (hi, Kendra! I have always wondered about those visits from Vanuatu!). And I am always glad when I hear about someone finding my blog and completely identifying with what I write here. It makes me feel like this blog might actually help someone, instead of just serving as my misery-laden sounding board, so I'm glad you found your way here, Suzanne.

The bottom line is this: All mothers are just trying to do the best job they possibly can. Some of us are better at it than others and some of us find it comes much more naturally to them than it does to others. I've said it here before and I'll say it again, a lot of times, motherhood for me is akin to being a customer service rep at a high-volume call center where the people on the other line have a continual stream of demands and complaints that never, ever stop no matter what you do, say, or promise them.

Motherhood is Hard (with a capital H) for me. Juggling a career, a social life that barely exists, a marriage, and a house that's perpetually filthy along with motherhood and attempting to keep my sanity is always going to be a challenge. And when I know through reading your blogs or talking to you on the phone or emailing you that it's hard for you too, (maybe not as difficult as it is for me, but hard all the same), then I know that this is a struggle we all (well, apparently not all of us) share, it makes the burden not as heavy.

Please don't be afraid to share these feelings if you have them, and I know most of you do to varying degrees. It doesn't make you a bad mother.

It makes you a human one.

A Mother's Day

A few months ago, during one of my mom's visits, she handed me four handwritten tablet-size pieces of paper.

On December 14th, 1977, when my mom was 27 years old, she took the time to write out, minute by minute, a day in her life as a young mother. I was 20.5 months old. My younger sister was 7.5 weeks old.
The day sounds very familiar. She was up during the night with my sister several times (my mom often wrote, "Karrie screaming in crib. Karrie throwing up. Karrie being very fussy"-my mom has always said that my sister spent a great deal of her early years crying), I was up for the day at 6:30am, and from that point on, other than a brief 15-minute rest time from 3:15-3:30pm, when my sister and I were still sleeping, my mom was constantly tending to the needs of an infant and a toddler.
At 9:30am, my mom writes "still burping Karrie (fussy and spitting up). Kristi reading books, playing dolls, watching Sesame Street-living room floor littered with 10 dolls, Cookie Monster, books, and toys all over the floor-Mommy can't stand looking at the mess!"
From 10-10:20am, she washes my sister's clothes, washes her hair (she never has time to dry it), and cleans the bathroom.
At 12:10pm, she writes, "Mommy nursing Karrie and feeding Kristi mini sandwiches, cutting cheese, and reading a story, all at the same time."
At 12:25pm: "Change Karrie's diaper while Kristi gets into everything possible in Mommy's room-many tears and spankings. Mommy feels frustrated because Kristi just wants a little attention too."

At 12:45: "Mommy getting tired of two whining kids both needing attention and love. Mommy getting frazzled!"

At 2:50pm: "Make a cup of coffee-don't know whether to collapse or go downstairs and get clothes out of dryer."

At 9:35pm: "Mommy polishing Kristi's shoes." (WTF?)

At 9:45pm: "Mommy collapses in bed to wait for Karrie to wake up."

It is a multi-page description of the life of most mothers of very young children.

I love having this snapshot of my mother's life in which she confessed that yeah, parenting small kids is frustrating, soul-sucking, and mentally and physically exhausting sometimes, because to talk to her now, her early years of motherhood were filled with nothing but puppies, rainbows, and galloping unicorns.
Interestingly, this is something I hear on a regular basis from acquaintances and a few friends. A girl I went to high school with repeatedly posts joyous updates (and only joyous updates) about her family on Facebook. Granted, this girl is one of those perpetually upbeat, sweet, kind, and glass half-full kind of people (obviously, we have nothing in common), so I can cut her a bit of slack, but Dear God, doesn't ANYTHING ever go wrong in her life? If so, I want to read about it, if for no other reason than to make me feel, for just a moment, that my life sucks less than hers.

I've long believed that mothers who paint a perpetually rosy picture of motherhood, who never complain, who stress that waking up 12 times in the middle of the night with a screeching, colicky newborn isn't robbing them of their will to live, who are able to somehow escape from their child's terrible twos unscathed, who say they don't miss their former, pre-child life even a little bit, are both terrible liars and doing new mothers a grave injustice.

I entered into motherhood with a very unrealistic idea of what it would be like. Granted, I had spent the two years prior to Isabella's birth bargaining with God that if he would just give me a baby, I would gladly devote my entire existence to the raising of this child.

Just give me a baby!

Once I got that baby (and two others), motherhood turned out to be a lot different than the pasture of grazing ponies I once imagined it to be. I wanted for myself more than motherhood could give me. I wanted to work. I wanted to run. I wanted to see my friends and read books and stay current on issues of importance to me.

I love my kids, but raising them while attempting to keep some semblance of myself intact is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. And I've worked my damnedest to be honest about how difficult it is for me. I am a downer at times. I know this, and I also know that this blog sometimes reads like a desperate cry for pharmaceutical intervention.

But I can't think of living my life pretending like it's something other than it is. And I love reading your blogs when you tell it like it really is too.

A lot of times, life with young children is awesome and funny and adorable, and posts that celebrate this are great to read.

But sometimes, like the 27-year-old version of my mother wrote one December in 1977, "Mommy needs a pair of roller skates and 8 hours sleep to keep up with these 2 little "angels?"...and even thought they are adorable, they have a lot of miserable moments."

Reading about your misery makes me feel less like I'm alone on Bad Mommy Island somewhere in the South Pacific.

My favorite posts of yours are those where you tell it like it really is.

Isabella at 4 Years, 5 Months

It's been a pretty good month in Isabella Land.

She is loving her Saturday morning Clay Class at the art gallery, and so far, she's made a bird's nest, a fish, and a monster. Last week, the class glazed.

Saturday mornings are hectic, but so far, she's doing well with the packed schedule. Clay class ends at 10:45 and her tennis lessons begin at 11:30am. Her coach says she's become a "class leader," and always asks to do specific drills. I think we'll keep her in lessons until she decides she doesn't want to continue, if that point ever comes. Tennis is an interesting sport, and one I know very little about, so it's been fun learning about it through Isabella.

Out of the blue, she's begun searching for words that rhyme: At least once or twice a day, she'll say, "Hey, "cat" and "sat" rhyme, don't they?" as if she's made this great discovery. I bought her these books for Christmas, and the hubs and are working on them at night with her. I have to say I was skeptical of them at first, but she's actually been able to read the first few books all on her own. The stories are hardly interesting, but I suppose that's not the point with early-reading books.

Art projects are still her thing, and I've just given up cleaning off our dining room table every night. It is overflowing with her creations, markers, crayons, glue, and supplies. We have no place else to put them and have them accessible to her, yet out of the reach of L and N.

Of course, sometimes they're drawing right along side her.

Interestingly, at her preschool conference, her teacher mentioned that she has trouble cutting complex shapes with a scissors. Given all the time she spends on craft projects, this was a surprise. Apparently, she keeps popping her thumb off the handle. Isabella is left-handed, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.
However, that was the only issue brought up in her conference. Her teacher says she loves school, loves to learn, has many friends, and is developmentally on-target or beyond where she's expected to be in all other skill areas.
We had her Kindergarten Orientation (Kindergarten!) last week. We toured the school and the Kindergarten classrooms, which were huge, and so cool (smart boards, reading areas with window seats, Plan Toys dollhouses, and enough art supplies to make her head spin). Registration is in March, at which point I will have to write a letter asking for morning Kindergarten (it's only a half-day program, unfortunately) because the twins will be in preschool 3 mornings a week (cue the choir), and I need that time to work. Apparently, everyone in my district wants morning Kindergarten, and those who request it need to submit their reasons in writing.
Isabella has been very excited lately because Chubbie (our oldest cat and mother of Louie and Claudia) has been coming into her room and sleeping on her bed.

She's asked me to leave a food bowl and a water bowl in her room in case Chubbie needs refreshments while visiting.
(Thank you to those of you who have emailed me asking about Louie. He continues to do as well as can be expected. He is eating and drinking and acting normally. He still cuddles with Chubbie every night in my office on the ottoman in front of the big chair where I work. But the mass on his shoulder is growing. What that means internally, I don't know.)

I read in one of the silly parenting magazines that I still subscribe to despite the ridiculousness of their articles and the utter laughability of their "healthy snacks" or "healthy dinner" articles placed on opposite pages to ads for Pop-Tarts that kids don't begin to feel empathy until around age 6. That until that age, kids are 100% focused on their own needs and desires, and basically don't give a rat's arse about anyone else.

But what I've realized lately is that I have a really empathetic kid. When Isabella sees me melting over the twins' often abhorrent behavior (and shamefully, she does a lot), she will say things like, "Mommy, let's go in your office and read a book" or she'll try and distract L and N so they'll stop screaming. I've been sick this week, and she's brought me a blanket, unprompted, while I was lying on the couch. When I say I'm tired, she'll say, "Mommy, someday you can stay in bed ALL DAY, and I'll bring you breakfast in bed, and you won't have to do anything."

Sometimes it is the Isabella show. Sometimes she's just as loony as her brother and sister, and sometimes her behavior is just as bad.

But most of the time, this kid thinks about others' feelings and needs a lot.

And this makes me feel like one lucky mom indeed.

Current Likes: Snuggling with the cats, eating frozen-as in, not yet cooked-peas

Current Dislikes: Being rushed


I was recently profiled by a new blog in my city. Check out my Q&A here.

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  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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