At 9:15 last night, I pulled my children from bed (well, no, I pulled one child from bed; the other hadn’t yet gotten into bed, the stinker), sat them on the couch, hugged them fiercely, and apologized. I apologized for being such an ogre yesterday, for yelling and losing my temper, and for saying terrible things I didn’t mean (“I don’t want to be mom anymore,” and “Fine. Don’t sleep in your bed. Sleep in the dog kennel. I don’t care.”). I cried, they cried, and then we talked about how we could all do better today. I would try not to yell. I would help them with their tasks instead of just being authoritarian about giving directions. They would try to follow directions the first time they were given. They would try not to fight and taunt each other. They would try to be on time for things or at least move faster when I told them they needed to move faster.
It didn’t work, though it made me feel a bit better last night. This morning, they were up to their old tricks again, alternately concocting elaborate parkour routes around the house and fighting each other like badgers. They ignored directions, simple, everyday directions like “please brush your teeth now,” and “please get a jacket, it’s raining.” They whined. They yelled. My ears are still ringing.
But I didn’t yell, so I’m calling it a win for the morning.
And, the baby has only burped up on my once today, so we’re already doing better than yesterday.
It was a tough day yesterday, the kind no one can prepare you for before you become a parent. And I just felt defeated and depressed. I had thought I was doing so well, too! Sure, I’m clinically obese, but I got some new clothes so at least I don’t feel as bad as I look most of the time. And sure, I’m not getting enough sleep, but I’m getting more sleep than I was, and that helps. And okay, I can’t keep up with the housework and all my responsibilities at home, but we’re all fed and mostly clean and I kind of have a handle on laundry. And fine, in trying to be a working mom of an infant, I’m doing a terrible job at both working and being a mom, but the business hasn’t collapsed and the baby seems to be developing all right. In short, we’re managing.
Except when we’re not. Or rather, I’m not. Sometimes, nothing goes your way. I’m surviving, but I’m discouraged. I feel like I do everything right, and still incur negative consequences. I exercised like a fiend and ate healthy all through pregnancy, and I still gained so much weight that I can be classified as “obese” by any chart out there. I try to be a good mom and limit screen time, read to my kids, cook nutritious meals every night, and give my children fun experiences when we can afford them. Still, they disrespect me. I have tried disciplining them in every “correct” way out there, and nothing works. I don’t have the willpower to resist the couch at night for an hour, even though I should be scrubbing the toilets or mopping the floors or just picking up the junk that accumulates on every surface (our housekeeper, and you KNOW I’m a big advocate of hiring a housekeeper if you can afford it, is out with a knee injury).
It got so bad yesterday that, after being late for boot camp and having to nurse the baby right when we got there, thus being even more late for class, I made the decision after doing only ten modified pushups (because Freddie is strapped to my front and I can’t get down on the ground) to take my screaming, whining, tantrumming kids home. Jamie couldn’t stop throwing a fit over every. single. little. thing. and Charles was taunting him at every turn. Boot camp is the only “me” time I have, even though I am exercising while managing three children and I can’t do even a third of the exercises because Freddie hates his car seat and the stroller, so I keep him in the Ergo. It’s the only thing in my week that makes me feel good about myself – I might not be pretty or thin, and I might be exercising next to the new mom who has already lost all the baby weight at 12 weeks post-birth, but at least I’m doing something productive and I feel pretty strong while doing it. To have to walk away from that, from my one thing, was heartbreaking.
I suppose we all must go through those times when we feel like the universe is shitting on us. Thank God that was yesterday, and today is today. My breast pump broke at 4:30 am, but I’m trying not to see that as an omen for today. I have already borrowed a friend’s for the short-term and my insurance will completely cover the cost of a new one. I’m wearing a new shirt and it only has one breastmilk stain on it; here’s hoping it will stay lonely instead of inviting all its friends to party on my shoulders.
I’m hoping, at a minimum, that I can maintain perspective today. Would I trade my children to be thin? No. Would I trade my children’s personalities for complacent, obedient ones? No. Would I trade my ambitious husband who is gone all the time for a slacker who is home early? No. Would I trade my stressful job for a nine-to-five working for someone else? No. Sometimes, it’s not about counting my blessings, it’s about knowing how much the alternative would suck.