Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

I can’t resist.  There’s a song for literally everything.  (Literally.)  You can quote me on that.

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I am so glad Noa wasn’t my firstborn.  Not that the boys were perfect angels, and not that she’s a colicky mess, but she has definitely been the fussiest, most sensitive, and trickiest to figure out.  To balance that out, she’s also very social and loves face-to-face interaction (although she prefers the face to be that of her bearded father), and when I get rewarded with a giant gummy smile it makes everything else fade into the background.

I’m 90% sure she’s teething right now (it’s a bit early, but Tesla got teeth around 4 months and she’s 10 days shy of that milestone).  For the most part, the boys didn’t really display any teething symptoms (at least, none that I picked up on)–teeth just suddenly appeared.  I knew from the beginning that Noa would absolutely have a different reaction to the process, and I was right.  Extreme fussiness, slight fever, drooling, decreased appetite, needing to chew on something constantly (often her hands but I started keeping all of her pacifiers in a cup in the freezer and the cold rubber is also highly favored)–she’s displaying all the classic signs.  (I have a degree from the University of WebMD so I’m a pretty legit source.)

Hopefully a wee incisor breaks through in the next few days.  If not, may God have mercy on my soul.

 

——–

It’s the freakin’ weekend!  I hope you have fun plans.  My brothers are coming over tonight to play games and drink adult beverages (no one around me seems to like games as much as I do but I force them to play with me).  Adult sibling bonding is the best.

 

 

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My Children Are Ruining My Life [And Other Stories I Tell Myself]

I have a five year old, a four year old, and a three month old.

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They are ruining my life and slowly but steadily driving me toward complete insanity.

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(It is also impossible to take a decent picture of the three of them together. But that is beside the point right now.)

I am a highly sensitive person. It’s taken me a few years to figure that out. I’ve learned that I’m easily overwhelmed by too much visual clutter and triggered by too much noise.

This is a problem, because I live in an apartment with three loud little people who have made it their personal mission to embody entropy; every day in every way.

However, even for a relatively patient and well-adjusted person, children are still a challenge.

Lately, it has felt like everything is falling apart and life within these four walls is spiraling out of control.

The other day, I woke up and was greeted by the joyous sight of an entire bag of Cheerios that had been dumped out and then spread to completely cover our living room carpet.

This morning, I walked into one of the boys’ rooms to find this:

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Why, children?  Just…why?

The stains on the carpet.  The three different sets of broken blinds.  The chipped electrical outlets and wall dents and broken doorknobs and carpet stains and that chunk from our dining table surface that mysteriously came off and went missing.  (I have come to terms with the fact that there is no way in hell we are getting our deposit back when we move out.)

And then there are the accidents.  The brand new gallon of milk that was dropped and split open, all over the floor.  The nearly-full jar of jelly that was also dropped and shattered into a billion pieces.  (Cleaning up glass is one thing.  Cleaning up shards of glass mixed with sixteen ounces of sticky jelly, however…you can’t just sweep that shit up.)

The five loads of laundry that I had to do this morning in spite of the fact that I do laundry every day–including two sets of sheets and twin-sized comforters because little bladders don’t always make it through the night.

Accidents are accidents.  I don’t get angry over them.  I’ve learned to accept that they happen, even though sometimes when I see the mess that needs to be cleaned up, I just want to say, SOMEONE ELSE COME DO THIS.  ANYONE ELSE.  I JUST DON’T EVEN WANT TO LOOK AT IT RIGHT NOW.

I’m not trying to elicit pity.  Everyone has daily battles and frustrations.

It’s just a lot sometimes.

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But I’ve realized I often make situations much worse because I have an inner narrator who never shuts up and is prone to histrionics.

Why are they always fighting?  I am so sick of this.  They break everything!  EVERYTHING!  They never listen.  They are so destructive.  I am so done.  I don’t even want to deal with this.  I cannot handle this right now.  I am not enough for them–they have SO MANY needs and they are all different and I just can’t do it.  He is so demanding!  Stop asking me questions!  Stop following me around!  Why won’t they just leave me alone?  I TOLD them to stop splashing everywhere!  It’s going to take forever to get this cleaned up.  I’m sick of doing this alone–I’ve been doing it on my own for five years!  They have so much energy and we are stuck in this damn apartment with no backyard and Noa is not napping well and I just CAN’T take you to the park right now so stop asking and stop breaking things and damn it everything is out of control and everything is falling apart and the apartment is a disaster and STOP HITTING EACH OTHER.  Fine.  Fight all you want.  I don’t even care anymore.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the constant loop of mental negativity is contributing to the problem.

Yes, shit happens.  But shit doesn’t always happen.  Let’s have a little reality check.

Yes, the boys are fighting and not listening and bouncing off the walls (or couch) right now.  But they also love to play together and read with me and often get lost in playing machines or construction site or LEGO.  I get a lot of free time some days because they are so busy and engaged in their ‘important work’ .  I am so lucky that they have each other.

Yes, Noa is having issues with naps right now and it’s frustrating and tiring.  But she is sleeping well at night and she is generally a happy and sweet and very interactive baby.  Yes, she has been my most difficult newborn to date, but telling myself that over and over doesn’t help.  Reminding myself how sweet and lovely she is helps overshadow the difficulties.

Yes, I have been on my own most of the past several years because Silas has been so insanely busy with school.  Yes, we’ve only seen him for a total of two or three weeks since last May as he travels around the country for rotations.  But I have grown immensely as a person and have become very independent.  I am good at being alone, which is a valuable quality. I have matured so much that I barely recognize that 19 year-old girl who jumped into marriage and motherhood nearly 7 years ago.

Yes, we are having issues with talking back and not listening and lying right now.  But I have gotten compliments from strangers on how well-behaved and polite my children are.  I’m doing a good job.  They may not always be sweet and polite, but they’re not always defiant little monsters either.  (Okay, monsters is a little strong.)

And on those days when it’s all just piling up, I repeat my favorite refrain: it won’t be like this forever.

Because really…it won’t.

And there are so many good moments with these little people.

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I don’t want to miss them because I’m so focused on the crappy ones.

 

 

—————-

What are some of the stories you tell yourself?

 

 

Hello…Is There Anybody In There?

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In case you didn’t get the reference.

So what have you missed while this blog has been gathering dust?

Well, firstly…I’m not pregnant anymore! (contain your shock)

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Noa Margret was born October 2, twenty-fourteen.

This is what she looks like now, three months later.

(Actually I just checked and I can’t find any up-to-the-moment pictures of her.) So here she is at two months. She looks mostly the same. Perhaps a little chubbier now.

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I didn’t make any official resolutions this year, but after I had a complete breakdown a couple weeks ago I snapped into Get Shit Done mode with a side of Sunshine and Positivity and Goals (although it sounds cooler if I call them intentions).

At the top of my list, as always, is to write more–specifically to blog more.  I’ve missed blogging.  I’ve missed having an opportunity to get some of these words out of my brain and onto paper (or rather, screen).  THERE ARE SO MANY WORDS.  So many.  And without regular adult company, I am lonely.  Very lonely.

Perhaps it’s pathetic to admit that, but damn it if it isn’t true.

So, invisible internet friends, I’m shoving my pessimism aside and ignoring the adage about the best-laid plans.

I’M BACK, Y’ALL.

Here’s to goals and to writing and positivity and shit.

Happy 2015.

 

 

 

Mama Bird Checking In

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Hello from 32 weeks!

I have to admit, I totally thought “nesting” was a myth.  I don’t remember having any nesting tendencies with my other two pregnancies, but this time?  Affirmative.

In the last couple of days, I’ve scrubbed the carpet, swept/mopped/vacuumed all floors, cleaned mirrors, done about 11 loads of laundry (including towels, sheets, comforters, shower curtains, pillows…), cleaned both bathrooms (even scrubbed the bathtubs, which I often skip in favor of a quick wipe-down), reorganized and decluttered and rearranged all the toys and closets and bookshelves, and set up the pack and play and carried it around to all of the different places I might want to use it to make sure it fits. I have a (small) list of things I need to acquire before bebe is born, and I’ve had to talk myself out of multiple Amazon purchases (because really…there’s plenty of time). And last night, as I was going to bed I was suddenly struck with the thought that I really should get my hospital bag packed.  (8 weeks early….?)

So I suppose that’s nesting–for me, at least.  I’m sure to some of you, that looks like a normal week, but my bar of productivity is set pretty low.  😉

Mentally, I’ve been doing really, really well for a couple of months.  I’ve been able to be a lot more involved with the boys, and I’m enjoying them so much more lately.

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That doesn’t mean that they don’t still make me crazy sometimes (like when I’m trying to clean up after dinner and have to keep breaking up naked wrestling matches and snapping go get your pajamas on right now or I’m not reading any stories tonight!! while the natives run screaming around the apartment like gleeful little banshee nudists).

But overall, and in spite of some personal shit that I’m dealing with right now (and trying, unsuccessfully as always, not to obsess about–my brain just loves a good obsession) things are good.

Really good.

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Keyboard Confessional

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I suppose my first confession should be that I may have more pictures of my cats than I do of my kids.  What can I say…cats hold still and kids don’t.

 

I bought an apple pie at Costco a couple of days ago.  What was the occasion, you ask?  Oh, just me.  Wanting apple pie.  And it is basically gone now.

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Can I put “ability to demolish an entire apple pie without assistance” on my resume?

 

The other day I was reading the boys a story and when I came to the phrase “tuck them” I read it with an ‘f” in my head.  I realized it just before I said it out loud.  What is wrong with you, this is a children’s book!

 

I’ve lied (omissions! gentle untruths!) to my OBGYN a couple times.  I like to keep certain things on a need-to-know basis.

 

And speaking of doctors…I am addicted to internet diagnosis.  Nothing passes idle time like googling all of your symptoms.  WebMD has assured me that I have at least 5 types of cancer.  It’s a miracle I’m still alive.

 

And for my final divulgation, I have to say that as adorable and demanding as babies and toddlers are…I’m enjoying the boys so much more now that they are older.

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Although I admit that the recent demise of naptime is something I am not handling very well.

 

 

The Spectrum

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“So how was this week for you?”

“It was…surprisingly good.  I’ve actually been feeling really normal for the last few weeks.”

“Define ‘normal’.”

“Well…not, you know, crazy.”

“And what is ‘crazy’?”

 

Therapists.  Always with the questions.

 

Crazy, meaning manic cleaning sprees and compulsive decluttering (RIP, toys and clothes that I found on the floor in my mad dash to toss anything superfluous), and that overwhelming feeling that my space does not feel ‘right’ and that chair needs to go.  Right now.  I have to throw it away.  There are too many pillows on the couch.  I need them gone.  There’s a plate in the sink WHY IS THERE A PLATE IN THE SINK WHY IS EVERYTHING FALLING APART THE HOUSE IS A MESS I CAN’T TAKE IT

That kind of crazy.

Crazy, like the rootless anger surging just below the surface, searching eagerly for an outlet.  Crazy, like the lighting-quick switch flip that takes me from semi-rational to out-of-control rage, as though some cruel demon has decided to take my body for a spin.  Crazy fists pounding, broken glass.

Crazy.  Pacing the same quick path around the apartment, my mind stuck in a mad monologue that keeps going going going without reprieve.  Crazy, when every sudden movement or sound makes my body tense; when everything seems so loud and someone is talking to me but the words are just filling my head, making no sense, and I can’t remember how to answer.

Crazy–reading the harsh judgment in every gaze I meet, flooding my mind with the invented criticism of others.  My heart beats faster and I go on the defensive, encasing myself in walls because everybody is bitches* today.  Paranoia, convinced that my neighbor thinks I’m a negligent mother and is going to call CPS because one of my children is crying.

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And then there’s the other side.  The endless tears with no source but the bleakness that has permeated my mind.  The numb, blind staring–mind unable to cope, body unable to move.  The heaviness, the utter bodily weariness, yet the dread of sleep because the thought of a new day is too much to bear.  The kind of days when the slightest request feels like an impossible demand, and being asked to find a shoe or push a swing can reduce me to tears.  Eating on autopilot, mindlessly munching not because there is any hope of filling the void, but because it’s something to do and doing things is so hard right now.  Knowing how pathetic, how teen-angst all of this sounds on paper, yet feeling so hopelessly lost that it doesn’t matter.

The isolation, feeling lonely so lonely and wishing hoping praying for something, someone, to come and relieve me of this despair. But God is not a genie, apparently, for no midnight caller appears to bring comfort.

And yet, in spite of all that, those days (weeks, months?) of ‘normal’–sad but not immobilized, angry but not out of control–those times when you get to step off the ride and just cruise along for a while…

Those times are glorious.

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*’Everybody is bitches’ is my favorite phrase for those days when I just can’t stand to be around people.  It amuses me when little else will.  I want to put it on a t-shirt.

 

——-

What is your ‘crazy’?

Final Stretch

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28 weeks!  We’ve hit the third trimester!  Hallelujah amen.

I’m going to attempt a quick pregnancy update that hopefully will not morph into a long-winded tale of the gritty details of my gestation thus far.

From the beginning, this pregnancy was quite different from my other two.  Mostly I just had more, and different, symptoms.  I was quite a bit sicker but that passed a while ago.  I still throw up a few times a week, but the episodes are brief and barely an inconvenience.  I taught the boys to rub my back while I’m throwing up (rather than staring over my shoulder, commenting and asking questions the entire time) which I highly recommend to all other expectant moms.

I started showing pretty early, and got big really quickly, as I did the last two times–and then it stalled.  It looks/feels like I haven’t gained any belly girth in the last month or two (although I have already surpassed my previous pregnancies in the weight gain department).  I don’t know if this is just a really small baby or I’m carrying differently or what.  Fun facts.  Moving on.

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Throughout the past few months, I’ve been thinking back to my first pregnancy and how different this third one has been–specifically my attitude and feelings about my body.  In both of my other pregnancies, I spent the first trimester exercising (which is unusual for me, ha) and restricting; I think somehow hoping that if I could create a weight deficit it would help me come out on top, in control of the numbers and what was happening to me.  (By the middle of the second trimester I had pretty much given up and settled in for the ride–although not without a lot of mental anguish over my changing physique and the appearance of many many many stretch marks.)

This time, I am proud to say that I did not restrict.  I did not panic and do dumb things like go on daily 2 hour walks with only a carefully counted out 12 almonds and 8 apple slices to sustain me.  I’ve just felt so much more comfortable this time–it helps that I’ve gone through this before, and it helps that I am no longer in the throes of bulimia.  For the most part, I feel pretty relaxed about everything (and let me tell you, that is a very nice mental space to be in).  I mentioned that I’ve gained a very decent amount of weight.  That is the truth.  I’ve already hit the amount I had gained by the time I delivered Tesla at 40 weeks.

A few years ago, this would have devastated me, panicked me.  But now?  I am proud to say that I feel really okay.  I mean, I’m hoping not to gain a ton more, because I know each extra pound that creeps on now is one I have to lose later, but for the most part I feel pretty comfortable in my body and I have no intention of freaking out or banning nachos and donut runs.

We can all share a knowing chuckle when I come crashing face-first off of my little body confidence soapbox after I get my postpartum reality check during that first post-delivery glance in the mirror…but for now, the ol’ bod and I are on good terms.

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Also, my cats are in love with the belly.  It’s hard to despise something that brings you tons of extra kitty snuggles.

 

 

 

 

Planning and Chore Charts

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[selfies with muderous-looking cats…there are about a billion more where this came from]

After Silas left, I dove quite enthusiastically into organizing everything in my entire life.  You know I love me some lists and charts.

I cleaned the fridge, reorganized 2 closets, a few shelves, and our junk drawer, washed and vacuumed the car, made an elaborate meal plan and cleaning schedule (both of which are sitting, beautifully organized and ignored, on my fridge)…and started planning our homeschool trial run.

That last one alone has eaten up countless hours of research and planning and scheduling and crumpling and throwing away and dreaming and then trying to rein myself back in.  You see, I am a planner.  I absolutely love to research and chart and plan and organize and make lists with all of my pretty pens and think about how wonderful life is going to be according to my carefully constructed schedule.

I have dozens of discarded meal plans, cleaning charts, workout schedules, parenting plans, resolutions, and color-coded goal lists…all handwritten on just the right paper in just the right pens.

I am absolutely a planner…

But I am not a doer.

I probably execute about 3% of the plans I make.  My intentions are golden but they match neither my personality nor my energy level.  After a quarter century, this is finally sinking in, and I may actually be learning my limits so I can plan within them.

The first step in my grand plan for moving toward homeschooling was to bring some order to the aimlessness that is our mornings.  I spent some (read: a lot of) time making a job chart for the boys to help our mornings run a little smoother.  Against my own strict principles (you’d think after 4+ years of parenting I would have given up on trying to have principles) I found myself constantly picking up the boys’ messy rooms, and making their beds for them because trying to get them to do it seemed so exhausting.  Most of the time we left the house without their teeth or hair being brushed (maybe one, but rarely both), and I was tired of all of it.

So I came up with some ideas for morning chores, printed them onto cards, and organized it into the little system seen below (adapted from a much prettier one here🙂

 

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[Blue for Tesla, green for Desmond]

The first four cards on both charts are always the same–make bed, get dressed, clean up room, brush teeth and hair.  (And these four take the loooooongest to get through.  But!  We actually do get through them now!)  The last three cards are different almost every day, depending on what needs to be done that morning (or depending on how much time we have–I’ll assign easy chores if I know we need to be out of the house by a certain time).

We’ve had the charts for a couple weeks and it is so helpful to have a visual reminder of what needs to be done.  The boys can see what needs to be completed before we move onto anything else, and having everything listed in plain sight keeps me accountable so I don’t just give up and skip something or do it myself because I’m tired.

I’m not saying our mornings are super smooth and that everything gets done without dawdling or fighting happening (let’s be honest, most days it takes forever and there is always a fair amount of distraction and arguing), but things are much improved.  I can tell the boys (especially Tesla, who took to the chart immediately because he is really into knowing what everyone’s “job” is at any given moment) are learning to be a little more responsible, and they take pride in getting to put up that smiley face after completing a job.

20140603_092416 Desmond vacuumed his room by himself (!) for the first time ever this morning.  A couple of weeks ago he had no idea how to vacuum and also refused to even touch it unless I was holding his hand.  Note to self: see what happens when you are actually consistent?

This tiny success has given me just enough enthusiasm to power through the last bit of the homeschool planning I have to do.  I have almost everything we need so our tentative start date is next week!

 

This Just In

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They’re going to have a sister!

Excitement all around.

 

 

Confessions from My [Third] Second Trimester

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[first confession: this picture is actually from the first trimester.]

My first pregnancy (and the second pregnancy that followed in quick succession), I wore my normal padded, underwire bras through the entire duration of gestation and nursing (fun fact: I have never owned or worn a nursing bra.)  This time?  I haven’t worn real bra with things like hooks and clasps and underwire and separate cups for weeks.  Months, maybe.  Sports bras all the way–bring on the sexy uniboob.

I busted out the maternity clothes at 8 weeks.  I am so over squeezing into my old clothes for the sake of pride–this time, absolute and uninterrupted comfort is prioridad numero uno.

Here’s a basic summary of my diet for the first couple of months.

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IMG_20140309_114850[and let’s just take a minute to acknowledge the sahara desert that is my skin.]

Not pictured: boxes and boxes (and boxes) of Cheez-Its.  My snack of choice.

Around week 12, I was getting super smug that I hadn’t yet gained any weight.  And then the universe was like “JOKE’S ON YOU!” because I then proceeded to gain 6 pounds in one week.  Pride goeth before the pounds.

I got an ultrasound at my first appointment and I cried.  Of course, I was already crying because I had to have a pelvic exam, and those little bastards always induce anxiety attacks. (2 children and 2 IUDs later, you’d think I’d be used to it.  But something about that exam table and the stirrups and the nakedness just freaks the absolute hell out of me.) But when I looked up and saw the fuzzy, black and white images of the wee little babe inhabiting my womb, the hyperventilating and shaking and panic-sobs turned into a much calmer and happier kind of weeping.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I promised myself I would actually exercise consistently this time.  I did yoga every day…for like 9 days straight.  On the other hand, I have been very faithful to my daily afternoon nap.

My first pregnancy, I followed all the “rules”, did all the research, spent hours and hours poring over books and websites.  I’m not knocking that, because it’s an essential part of the first time experience.  (Plus, it’s so fun to actually have a legitimate reason to be on all the baby websites, after all the months you’ve spent secretly looking at them anyway.)

This time, I eat sushi and Brie and raw eggs and lunch meat and basically whatever the hell strikes my fancy. I don’t worry as much about all the cramping or the random, weird symptoms that crop up.  I’ve been through labor and delivery twice, so while I know it’s the farthest thing from a picnic that you could possibly come up with, I at least know what to expect and have concrete proof that I’ve survived it before.  I am in no way an expert and this baby is likely to throw me for a loop, as babies are wont to do, but overall I am just less worried.  And that is nice.

And even though this one was a huge surprise and even though the timing couldn’t have been much less ideal…

I am so excited.

 

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[Tesla, 1 week old]

I hope this one’s cute, too.

😉