One of the funny and sometimes maddening aspects of having children of both sexes is that I get to see directly how different little boys and little girls can be.
These past few days have been exhausting. My children have been driving me nuts. Babygirl is still teething, and she is trying to chew on EVERYTHING. Remote controls, socks, her toys, Layla’s toys, Jayden’s toys, cell phones, cell phone cases… Anything that she can maneuver into her mouth. That means I have to spend extra time making sure that her toys are super clean and that my older kids haven’t carelessly left anything in her path that might make its way into her mouth and harm her. I have to keep reminding them not to leave pencils, crayons and buttons on the couches, because she will pull up on them and grab at anything within little fat arm’s reach.
With Jayla’s newfound and burgeoning mobility comes an increase in safety problems. Now I’m noticing all of the exposed outlets that I need to cover, the partially exposed nail holding down the piece of wood in the floor, the jumble of cords beside the television. She falls sometimes too, of course, so I have made the living room floor, where she spends the bulk of her exploration time, more comfortable by putting a big comforter down. When she falls, at least her landing is relatively soft.
As I’ve mentioned before, I found that 90% of motherhood involves repeating the same things over and over again. My son, lovable and sweet as he is, is super sloppy and absent-minded. He is asthmatic and has been on the same medicinal regimen for years now–two puffs of his inhaler morning and night, allergy medicine before bed. You would think after doing these things for seven years he would remember on his own, right? Nope, not at all. And there have been other things that I constantly get after him about that he is just not getting through his head–after he showers, I have to tell him to pick his dirty towel up from the bathroom floor. After dinner, I have to catch him before he wanders away from the table and tell him to clear his space. He takes things out of the refrigerator such as mustard or whipped cream and will forget to put them back. Whenever he does this I get angry, I’ll admit, because these are things I tell him ALL.THE.TIME. I ask him, in particular when he leaves a mess, “So who do you expect to clean this up?” He just gives me a sheepish look.
While my son doesn’t do enough, my five-year-old does TOO MUCH. Now, Layla is tidy. She makes up her little bed on her own and picks up her room when I tell her to. After dinner she clears her little space. She is also clean about her little body. I supervise her in the bathtub, but only to make sure she doesn’t get up and slip and fall. She knows how to wash herself and she does a good job.
In what seems to be, lately, efforts to get more positive attention and be more independent, as we know she is, she has been trying to do things she shouldn’t. On a few occasions she has tried to be helpful in terms of clearing the entire table and has picked up glass items and, since she cannot reach the sink, stood on her tiptoes and dropped the items in, almost breaking them. A few times in the bathtub she has started to “clean” the bathtub using the washcloth she is supposed to wash herself with. Obviously these are things she has seen me do and is trying to help, so I just tell her what to do or not to do and why. For example, when she dropped the glass dishes in the sink, I told her I appreciated her helping me, but so she doesn’t hurt herself, I’ll let her know what she can help with. Then I told her about the time I broke glass and hurt myself on the shards. She likes when correction comes with anecdotes.
I’ve also been getting a bit agitated by my isolation. I have been looking forward to starting a remote job, but they have been having some technical issues (and possibly some organizational issues in terms of assigning work). I am tired of being so helpless, and I miss working. I miss regular interaction with adults. The company I will be working for is highly respected and I have worked for them before and loved it, so I was more than ready. Unfortunately, they weren’t. Last week I tried to log in and begin work each day at six p.m. to no avail. Now I’m anxiously awaiting an email from them letting me know the kinks have been worked out and I can begin. I was hoping to have a paycheck or two under my belt by my husband’s birthday.
In the meantime, I have found myself getting increasingly annoyed by the daily grind. It happens. Especially since my baby has been fussy and clingy, I’ve had ZERO time to myself. Even when I lay down at night, I am awakened multiple times by her, so I can’t even eke out a good dream. I am a person who is sociable but also loves regular solitude. And since I haven’t been getting it, I am a bit of a crab apple.
I was on the brink of explosion earlier. Jayla was super fussy and refused to sleep. I felt bad, because the hours I spent dealing with her, my other daughter was vying for my attention and I couldn’t properly give it to her. Also, the Internet was down at Mom’s house again (Comcast is NOT doing her any favors–terrible service) so she could not work on her ABCMouse lessons. I got frustrated because the plans I had for myself and Layla–to work on her lessons, read some books with her, etc., were all derailed because my baby was in such a foul mood. I still had to consider what was for dinner, and then my son had to come home early because he had over-exerted himself during recess and was coughing his head off.
The day slowly got better once my husband woke up from his after-work slumber (he gets off around six a.m. every day). He went out with his best friend for about an hour, and we ordered food, so I got out of coming up with a meal. (I need to start meal planning and grocery shopping on the weekend. What I’m doing right now is not working). When he came back, I left the kids with him in the living room, went into our room and shut the door. I ended up falling asleep for about an hour. Not sleeping at night is catching up with me. According to my FitBit I only average around three hours of actual sleep at night (insert angry face here).
This is why I kind of think I am done having kids. Initially my husband and I both thought we wanted four, but it appears that I am going through early menopause. If that is the case, I am fine with that. People have suggested fertility treatments and adoption if I still want the fourth, but I am tired. I am tired and I don’t have any guarantees that my health isn’t going to continue to decline. I really feel I am too exhausted to do this again.
When I woke up, a story popped up in my news feed that put everything into perspective. When I saw it I felt ashamed for having been annoyed with my kids. It’s a heartbreaking story shared by a brave mom by the name of Ruth Scully. She lost her sweet four-year-old baby boy, Nolan, to a form of cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma, in February–the same month that Layla turned five.
The story and the accompanying photos had such an impact on me. My kids are no better than anyone else’s… this could be any one of them. I had to remind myself of that, and thank God that it wasn’t, and pray for the strength of this grieving mother, who probably would give her right arm to have the opportunity to be “annoyed” by her son one last time. SMH at myself.
If you have Facebook, visit her page “NolanStrong”. I’m sure she would love a kind word.