Monday, April 26, 2010

There's Just Not Enough of Me to Go Around.

It's not about time. When it comes to time, I can use my mad crazy 1992-tetris skills and make all the activities I have to, fit into the mere 24 hours we are each granted in a single day. I can sometimes even manage to schedule 7 hours for sleep. Then, when I'm done, and realize I seriously just SCHEDULED bed time for myself, that's when I know it's just too much. Sometimes, in my head, I even categorize my morning activities into time slots. Get up at 7, take the dog out, bring the dog in, give the dog a treat, feed the dog, feed the kid, get the kid clothes, get in the shower, wash my hair, wash my face, get out of the shower, make the kid put on the clothes you got him 20 minutes ago because he is walking around your bedroom still in his pjs, dress self, dry hair, make up, teeth brushed, kid's teeth brushed, take dog out again, bring dog in again, make kid's lunch, make self lunch, get kid's book bag together, get own book bag together, get dog in the kennel, get kid in the car, get self in the car hopefully with keys in hand saving one of the many trips back into the house for forgotten items, get kid to school by 9, get self to school by 9:15...

On paper it's daunting. As a mom, it's routine. I look at this morning and I think "this is pie." This is what every other mom goes through every single day. Not to mention working moms. I mean, I am in school full time, 4 days a week. So I certainly am doing my fair share of being a working mom, but to throw a commute into this mix would only exacerbate an already ridiculous progression. And when you add in all the evening commitments into the equation, it just doesn't add up. Tuesday night tball practice, thursday night trivia, friday swim lessons, saturday afternoon games, church on sundays. And my husband is a contract worker on top of his full time job so he is constantly doing work at home when we should both be relaxing. Forget my homework. What homework? What study time?

I know that other people have it worse. I know some schedules are far crazier than this. But I'm not other people. And I just can't do it. Today at school, I broke down because some 18 year old girl told me I was being rude. In my defense, I most definitely was not. In her defense, she's an idiot. But the point is, I could care less what some little teen-ager thinks or says about me. It doesn't matter. It isn't what I was upset about. I was upset about feeling so tired and so exhausted and so defeated that one little tap on my foundation would make the whole darn world come crashing down. I'm being a little dramatic. I paid the girl no mind and made it to my car in time for no one to see me cry. I shed exactly 5 tears, let the rest roll off my back, and ate my lunch with my friends. But the overreaction just made me realize, I haven't got it all together anymore. And while I know that's okay, knowing it's okay doesn't make it any easier to deal with in this moment. My emotions and my energy are all so scheduled and so itemized that if even one thing goes wrong, the entire train will wreck. I leave room for maybe 3 seconds of movement, and after that the ties start to break.

I used to wonder why people did this to themselves. Now I realize, we often have no choice. When we signed the kid up for tball, we didn't know my school schedule would be so crazy. And to be honest, tball is a nice releif for him from the stress that is often thickening the air at home. He is also in swim lessons once a week, but this was purely a safety thing. Again, life to do over: don't do tball and swimming in the same season. But it's out there now and there is no getting around it. And I honestly didn't know school would be THIS hard this quarter. I breezed through the last almost-year of my life with straight A's. And I literally mean breezed. I studied pretty darn hard for A&P:101 but there's no passing that class (much less getting an A) without working your butt off. And here I am struggling to keep my B in skills while I listen to children in my class tell me I'm rude for answering a question.

It's not about time. It's about energy. It's about strength. It's about patience. And I just don't have enough to go around right now. So what do I do? Well, blog apparently. But really, I just pray about it. And I remember that this is just a chapter in my life. It will be over soon and all of this will come to an end, just like all times come to an end, both good and bad. There was a short chapter after the kid was born when we ate ramen noodles and PB sandwiches almost every meal. Because that's what we could afford. It was then that I was introduced to vienna-sausage sandwhiches and the filipino version of pork and beans (which consists of beans that happen to have some pork fat in the can heated over rice). And those times were really hard. When every dollar you spent on yourself was one less dollar you had for formula and diapers, you looked at money a little differently. But you know what? Those times passed. That chapter had a beginning and an end. As does this one. So I'm gonna take a really deep breath and make it through the next six months. It may not be easy... scratch that... it's gonna suck. But the reward in the end is almost immeasurable. And I will look back on it the same way I am looking back on the other tough times: not with remorse or sorrow, but just with gratitude. I'm grateful those times are over. And I'm grateful for all I learned. And I'm grateful for all that I've become as a result of all that I've been through.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Old Kentucky Home

I live in Atlanta. Actually, our house is in a suburb about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Just far enough away that we never have to go into the city if we don't want to, but close enough that it's there if we need it. I love where we live. When I met my husband some 10 or 11 years ago, the fact that he already had plans in motion to leave this forsaken town in Kentucky was reason enough to want to marry him.

This forsaken down in Kentucky is called Radcliff. Population just over 20k. What that means is, there is no going anywhere that you don't see someone you know and there is no doing anything that everyone doesn't know about. Yeah... my childhood was AWESOME.

So, I venture home about two to three times a year. Once around the holidays, once in the summer when my sister's kids are here for a month, and once somewhere inbetween when my sister and I can manage a trip at the same time. Since she lives in Iowa, Kentucky is a good midpoint for us to travel too and it makes sure that neither of us is stuck here alone. This year, my sister's children's spring break and my spring break coincided. My 4 year old had to miss a few days of his pre-pre-school (what is THAT anyway??) but I didn't feel like it would effect the overall outcome of his education.

Also, this year, my mother and I decided to get puppies. So I got to make the 6 hour trip with a dog in tow as well. This morning while I was out walking him, maybe 10am or so, I could hear the tanks running cannon drills. When we came inside, the blasts were so loud the glasses on the counterops were shaking and rattling in the kitchen. The military base is only about 4 miles away, so this is nothing strange around here. My dog was scared to death. It wasn't until he started freaking out that I even realized the sound. It's funny how we grow accustomed to things at "home." Sounds, tastes, smells... Think about it for a second, close your eyes, do you remember what it smelled like when you walked into your house as a child? Your mom cooking your favorite food? The smell of the the breeze as it rushed through the open windows? Maybe it's so different for me because my parents live so far from where I live now.

What will my son remember?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Confessions of a Mother

I have a secret. It's eating at my very core.

Sometimes... I don't like being a mom. There. I said it. It's out on the table. The cat's outta the bag. It's off my chest... Anyone know anymore cliches I can throw in here?? Anyone?

I didn't want to have kids, really. When my husband and I got married, he the oldest of three, and I the youngest of four, children seemed like this distant land we only talked about someday going with little regard to actually making plans for our travel there. And yet, three years into our marriage, we were there, eagerly buying little blue onesies and a baby-sized pitching wedge. I never wanted children, even when I was little. My brothers and sister were horrible to me and the last thing I wanted was to inflict on some other poor little being the hell they gave me for some 15 or 16 years. Even when I was the last kid in the house, the basement (which was supposed to be my hideaway) became a revolving door for my siblings whom needed a place to stay because they didn't always have their feet quit flat on the ground.

I was there when my sister had her second child. I was 16 and super excited to experience the birth of life. But don't get me wrong, I wasn't stupid. I let my mom take stand at the bottom of the bed and I stood near her head, helping her count to 8 every time she felt a contraction, occasionally wiping her head with a cool towel. Yeah I knew what was going on downstairs and I didn't want anything to do with it. So after some 5 hours of (non-medicated) pain and sweat and pushing and crying, out popped this mishapen purple thing covered in some white goo that surely no human could produce. If I wasn't sure before, I was sure then. No babies for me.

But then I met my husband. He had two little sisters. His parents had worked two and three jobs each and so he had been left at home to take care of the house and help raise the girls and he'd done a pretty decent job, all things considered. Adults now, they both definitely have their issues, but let's just be happy they are both waiting to have kids, shall we? And so my husband couldn't have been more energetic about having children of his own. A little girl to sing songs to, a little boy to throw a ball with. He never pressured me, but his enthusiasm was contagious. I can't say I didn't jump three feet in the air when I finally saw two pink lines. When we found out it was a boy, I started crying tears of joy. I couldn't wait to dress him up in cute little collared shirts, baby gap jeans, and little chuck taylors.

DS was born and PPD hit me like a giant brick wall. No, more like a big Mack truck I couldn't see coming. I didn't know what it was. I'd never heard of it. No one had warned me. And I was really sick. My husband was wonderful. He took the reigns of parenthood like a pro, handling most of the feedings when DS refused to breast feed, getting up in the middle of the night so no one would feel the wrath of sleep-deprived me, and he even handled my outbursts in stride. It wasn't until I lost my job over a year ago that the intensity finally faded a little and I realized, all this time, I had been sick. Really, really uncontrollably sick I wanted to get better and I knew that meant taking some time off from work, but the thought of being a stay at home mom was daunting for me. It's not that I was career oriented--I mean you need a career first right?? I just wasn't sure being a full time mom was really the best fit for me. Now, let me side track here and say that we are ALL full time moms. Whether we work and our children are in day care, or if our parents are near by and help us out, or if we work from home, or if we stay at home, this is a full time job, baby. What I mean to say is, I'm not sure I could be in the same room with this kid for longer than a few hours at one time. All that to say, who would have known, it was wonderful. My son and I finally bonded. He became my friend, believe it or not. Sometimes I would get out of bed before it was time to wake him up and I would sit outside his room and just listen to him breathe. Or I would go in and lay on the floor next to his bed and just watch his little face while he dreamed.

These were beautiful days, and oh how I miss them. Sometime, on a dark quiet night, someone snuck into my house and replaced my perfect little companion with a whiney, rebellious, argumentative, self-righteous three-and-a-half year old. While I'd like to find the culprit, I feel my time is all swallowed up by trying to contain this beast I have been left with. Recently he has started with the Why?'s. He went through this phase breifly when at about two and I can hardly believe my own naitivity in thinking that was all there would be. I appreciate the circle we sometimes talk ourselves in. Just today, we stopped at McD's for some chicken nuggets and I left because the lady behind the speaker was being rude to the woman in front of me (who had also left) and since there is another McD's right down the road who might more appreciate my business, there was no reason to let this be my fate as well. So as we are driving away, DS asks me "Mommy, why are we leaving?" "Because, baby, the woman in the store was being rude." "Why was she being rude, mommy?" "Because she obviously didn't have parents to teach her otherwise." "Why didn't they teach her?" "Maybe because nobody taught them." "So why are we leaving?" And around again we go...

When it's been a long day of these conversations, I find my breaking point somewhere right around 7pm. Coincidentally only 30 minutes before I'm writing this post, and unfortunately, a good 90 minutes till bed time. I feel my chest grow tight and tears well up in the top of my cheeks and I take a deep breath. My husband, after 7 years of marriage, knows this routine of mine well. He often see-saws between scooping DS and taking him out of the room so I can cool off or getting right down on the floor to talk to DS about whatever it is he's done to make me upset. Because in my defense, I don't get this upset until I really can't take one more argument. What difference does it make why I told you to put on your underwear?? Maybe because I'm tired of you walking around the kitchen in your bare-bottom. I shouldn't have to explain that to you three times around the why-mommy-carousel, it's the kitchen and you're naked and put some pants on already! ! !

Sometimes I even find myself saying, in a calm, cool voice, "See, you're the child and I'm the mommy. And it's okay for you to ask me questions because you're 4 and I understand you're at that explorative age, but once you ask me and I tell you, then the conversation is over." *silence... * "Ok. Yes ma'am... but whhhyyyyyy?"

I'd like to have some hope that this will be over soon. I'm locked up in my bedroom right now, I'm supposed to be doing homework. My husband has DS in the other room, while he's doing his work, letting him watch a movie. I'd like to hope that by the time I come out of this room, maybe then the phase is over... no? How about after he turns 4? Not then either? 5? 10? 16?

Oh. Ok. This is one of those phases, eh? Oh, well. I guess I'm in it for the long haul then.