You may or may not remember, but when I first started this blog I said there were a few things I would and would not do. Now, I haven’t been as consistent in maintaining this blog, but one thing I have done is be completely honest. Honest about my shortcomings as a Christian; the difficulties of living in a world consumed with money, power, greed and status and not getting caught up in similar pursuits (I admit, I do want a bigger house with a huge backyard for my kids and my garden); and about the trials and tribulations of having a family. Anyone who claims it is a cakewalk to be a mom is either lying or more of a Rose Nylund than I can ever be.
I don’t think it benefits anyone for us as parents to pretend that every moment of parenthood is happiness, joy and rainbows. Everything our kids does is not necessarily cute or entertaining. Anyone who knows me knows that my kids are my WORLD. I love those three little monsters enough to willingly die for them. But for those who DON’T know me personally: I am a very good mother. I take care of my children and don’t expect anyone else to. They’re mine. I don’t like leaving them with other people very often. Over anything I have ever accomplished, raising three happy productive people is of the highest importance to me.
But sometimes they irk my frickin’ nerves.
Today started off BAD. As I mentioned the other day, my middle germbot, Layla, gave me a cold, and overnight it manifested into a cold on steroids. Mind you, my baby, Jayla,(yes, the girls’ names rhyme) is teething, and she has reverted in terms of her sleep pattern. Before this whole teething ordeal began, she was sleeping at least four hours at a time at night. She would only wake up to get changed, eat a little, and go right back to sleep with no problems. How I long for those days!
Her teething pain is compounded by the fact that she will only take four ounces of milk at a time. I have tried to feed her more than that, and she will spit it right back up. So four ounces it is. That means she has to be fed more often. Now that she is getting more solid food it is not as bad, but I am still figuring out the science behind her eating preferences and capabilities.
Now she is waking up every hour hollering, wanting a gum massage and something to bite on. When that happens, I rub some of her little gel on her gums until she is quiet, but then there is a problem… If I was asleep, I cannot fall back asleep as quick as I can wake up. Right when I finally start dozing back off, she wakes up again hollering. On several occasions, I had the audacity to put her down to use the bathroom. I had to keep the door open while she stared at me and yelled bloody murder the entire time. I rocked her to sleep for like an hour (I usually don’t have to do all of that), tried to lay her down so I could get a bite to eat, and as soon as I made the attempt to walk out of the room, she sat up and screamed at me. She looked betrayed that I was trying to sneak away from her. I’ve been trying to get 10,000 steps in a day with my FitBit (I can feel the results, by the way) and last night I had to hold her in my arms as I walked. She fell asleep, and when I put her down she slept for about ten minutes and woke up and hollered. EGADS!
In my household–I don’t know about yours, but this is how mine works–when everyone else gets sick, they get to shut down completely and focus on being sick. Not me. EVEN WHEN I AM SICK I STILL HAVE THINGS I HAVE TO DO, and I put that in all caps because it’s ANNOYING. Yeah, I said it. I don’t appreciate it. I’d like to just be able to focus on myself when I am sick. Does it make me selfish? I don’t know. I’d like to be able to get the uninterrupted rest that I need. Like I do for my family, I’d like for someone to run me a soothing bath with candles and soft music so I can relax my aching body, fix my chicken noodle soup for me and bring it to me in my bed, make sure the DVD player has the movie I’d like to watch, or hey, here’s a novel idea–CLEAN UP THE HOUSE! If there are chores that need to be done when I am sick, they typically will remain until I am better. And that aggravates me.
Today, on limited sleep and not feeling well, I woke up early to have a hot breakfast ready for my husband when he got home only to find that he was working late; did some laundry; washed dishes; fixed breakfast for Layla; dealt with the needs, wants and whims of a fussy baby; fielded a thousand questions from my son; and worked on my Sunday school lesson.
As I was growing frustrated, I had to separate myself from my kids for a second and think. Would I be content to put my younger girls in daycare and go back to work? Nope. Eventually, I do want to work outside the home. The only way I will do so, however, is if I have reliable, trustworthy care for my baby, and since that probably won’t happen, I might not work until she is in school.
Here’s the thing, and get ready for some brutal honesty. Disagree with me if you wish–these are my personal feelings. I NEED challenges and mental stimulation in my life. I CRAVE it. I also like a decent amount of alone time. For those of you who think this whole stay-at-home mom bit is easy, please reconsider. I do not get breaks, I do not get weekends off, I have no pay or benefits. There is no set schedule, I never know what might happen from one day to the next, and some people are very dismissive of the work a stay-at-home mom does.
Admittedly, my family needs some more training on not being so careless in terms of picking up their simple messes and helping out some more, but for the time being, they really aren’t. My days revolve around laundry, packing lunches, fixing dinner, finding random items I couldn’t care less about that said family member hasn’t cared about for two years but now NEEDS, checking homework, scheduling appointments, Bible study, reminding my kids three thousand times a day to do things they should have made a habit by now, giving baths, washing dishes and putting them away…
Sounds like a total snoozefest, doesn’t it?
It is. Housework is the most boring thing ever and involves absolutely NO mental stimulation. Let’s add in the isolation of barely leaving the house and having little adult interaction. It’s not the most satisfying of routines.
Today all of that frustration culminated and I had to escape from my kids for a few minutes. I had to refocus. I reminded myself that my baby is typically a very sweet little pumpkin–if I am this frustrated with her teething, imagine how she feels? She is only eight months and has no idea what that pain is. All she knows is that it hurts and she trusts her mama to provide her some comfort, not get frustrated with her. Luckily, she apparently hasn’t sensed my frustration, because when she sees me she always, without fail, gets excited or tries to get me. I won’t take that type of love for granted.
My middle daughter is understandably trying to get more attention, and she needs and deserves it. She sees how much attention Jayla (the baby) gets and every now and then she has talked to me in “baby language”. I remind her that she is a big girl and she can use words, and the only reason Jayla speaks that way is because it’s all she knows, and when Jayla gets old enough I’ll expect her to use her words as well.
I have been working with Layla to try and get her prepared for kindergarten. I don’t want her to go and be overwhelmed because I was too tired to help her learn to read, write and count. My parents gave me a good start. My son had a good start. I can’t let her fall through the cracks because I am sleepy. And I have promised her that when the weather gets a bit better she and I will go do some girl things alone.
I promised my son the same alone time. During my self-imposed time-out I had to remind myself not to explode when he asks three thousand questions in two seconds because it is obvious that he retains a lot of information, and who knows what he will grow up to be. He says he wants to be a pulmonologist so he can help people who have lung problems–like himself and my Dad, his best friend. Then, in another breath, he talks about designing hotels, waterparks, running a restaurant, rollercoasters, and food. I literally have no idea what this guy is going to become, but I’m sure it will be great–as long as I don’t quench his appetite for learning by shutting him down when he asks questions.
I also had to remind myself that my parents had to diligently train me as well. What kid likes to clean their room? Although I was very obedient and a pretty easy child–I wasn’t a troublemaker at all–cleaning my room was one of those things I HAAAAAATED doing. I would try to cut corners all the time, but my Dad wasn’t the one. Every now and then I would get in trouble for not keeping my room tidy.
And, of course, I thought about God’s patience with me. Best you believe in these 35 years of life I have done PLENTY that angered Him, frustrated Him, and made Him facepalm. But I have NEVER felt like God was tired of me, and definitely that He didn’t love me. My kids deserve the same and they will continue to get it. But I will say this– moms don’t have to always act like Superwoman. It doesn’t make you weak to want to just be a woman for a few minutes. We were all somebody before we had kids. Underneath the boogers, slobber, crusty-dried up food and coffee on your t-shirt and yoga pants, the bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, the same messy half-bun you’ve had your hair in for two days straight and muffin top that is now where your babies used to live when they were cooking (or is that just an apt description of me?) that woman is still there, and she deserves to be acknowledged.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)