Yesterday was a daycare day for Riley (he’s still going part-time, which is nice because it doesn’t completely screw up his usual routine, he gets a couple days a week of fun activities and socialization [as opposed to home life, which involves plenty of loving ministrations but let’s be honest, a complete absence of glitter glue and probably an overabundance of brain-rotting television], and it gives me some space to focus on the baby without drowning in guilt over the fact that I can’t give Riley all of my attention any more or even 50% of it) and all morning long I felt like I was getting my sea legs with this newborn business. I whipped through a bunch of chores with Dylan in the front carrier, then he took a catnap in his bouncy seat while I caught up on writing tasks and whatnot and I even managed to brush my teeth.

Then it was afternoon, the long dark tea-time of the stay-at-home-mom soul, and I felt like all I did was feed the baby, feed the baby, feed the baby, hey what am I doing at any given moment FEEDING THE BABY, and I’ll say this about bottle feeding, there is pretty much no way to free up one hand because one arm has the baby and one hand has the bottle and so which hand can bring the Diet Coke to the bottle-wielder’s mouth? WHICH?

I got bored of sitting and staring off into space while feeding Dylan so I flipped on the TV and watched a TiVo’d Intervention, and that left me feeling weird and filled with bad memories and basically sinking into a mire of woe, so I changed the channel to MTV Cribs and then I was just filled with hate for C-list rap stars and their tacky-ass houses and their stupid Godfather DVD collections. Plus, self-disgust for watching television during the middle of the damn day.

Eventually JB brought Riley home and when I came to the door with Dylan once again in the front carrier (I get sick of wearing it so much but it’s like an instant fusskill, as long as I keep moving) Riley took one look at me and wouldn’t give me a hug, wouldn’t even acknowledge me and in fact pushed me away and whined for his dad until I finally peeled off the carrier and stashed the baby elsewhere.

We did our evening routine of a harried dinner and playtime in the family room and Riley getting progressively more cranky and pre-emptively announcing that there is NO NIGHT NIGHT RIGHT NOW (a sure sign that bedtime has in fact become medically necessary to all involved parties) and we put him to bed accompanied by his usual screaming protests followed almost immediately by a full-body coma and since the baby had just been fed JB buckled him into the swing and left for the garage to do Man Things and I was going to have, like, twenty whole minutes to do some yoga or something and right about then Dylan barfed a geyser of pure horror all over himself, the fabric swing seat, and several inches of carpet.

I took him into the bathroom and gave him a quasi-bath and called JB back in to help me clean up the swing and the carpet and then of course Dylan was starving because hello, no more stomach contents, and I fed him for about the eleventy millionth time and it was around 9 PM and JB asked if I wanted to watch Survivor and I said you know what, I’m going to bed.

I went and took a bath and startled myself by sobbing sort of hysterically for a few minutes and finding myself thinking, I’m angry. I’m angry that there is so much drudgery to life right now, I’m angry that I can’t seem to consistently enjoy motherhood at the moment, I’m angry that my attention is constantly pulled away from Riley, I’m angry that JB gets to escape to work every day and I don’t, I’m angry that I spend so much time cleaning and picking up and cooking only to have to do it all over again the next day, I’m angry that I have to get up two or three times a night and it feels like that’s never going to end even though I know for a fact that it will, I’m angry that I have these selfish moments of despondence over the things I don’t have time to do, I’m angry with my body for being such a mess, I’m angry that I sometimes feel like such a shitty mom and a complete and utter failure at this whole parenthood thing, and I’m angry for feeling sorry for myself when my kids are healthy and our life is so good.

Then I blew my nose and crawled into bed and I read more pages of my book than I have in weeks and then I fell asleep with the luxurious knowledge that no one was going to wake me up in the next five minutes and by the time morning came I felt about a thousand times better. And this morning while I was holding Dylan and doing this thing where I gently bop my nose against his he smiled at me, big enough to pooch out his squirrel cheeks and show off his dimple, and even though he ripped a painful-sounding fart immediately afterwards which proves the old smile = gas adage it made me feel sort of punch-drunk with love and filled with excitement and wistfulness for the months ahead.

Things can feel so slow, the minutes crawl and linger and I wish them away one by one, only to think, wait! Oh god, I didn’t mean it! Come back, because it’s also going so fast.

Well. I have no pithy ending to this post. I have no idea how to wrap this up so it’s some kind of Meaningful Parenting Essay. I don’t want to clarify anything with declarations about how it may be hard but it’s so worth it, because I get sick of hearing that shit and I get tired of having to say it, too. The truth is so much more complicated than can be summed up in a bumper-sticker sentiment. And those of you who get it, you don’t need me to explain it.

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Comments

117 Responses to “Highs and lows, creamy middles”

  1. Clueless But Hopeful Mama on March 2nd, 2008 1:36 pm

    I have to add my voice to chorus: Bless you for this post.

    I just had a mini breakdown last night and told my husband that I didn’t think I could have another kid. I feel like I’m failing at the whole toddler thing and I just don’t know HOW it can possibly work with TWO kids. The anger and resentment and guilt and struggle of it all made me feel so lonely and he just couldn’t get it.

    Then I woke up and got to read this post.

    You get it. We all seem to get it. Thank you.

  2. Grandmother Dearest on March 2nd, 2008 5:50 pm

    You can bottle feed one-handed by leveraging the bottle in between the buttons on your blouse. This leave one hand free to sip the Diet Coke, manipulate the remote or turn the page. Just keep the angle correct for more milk, less air.

  3. Rachael (NZ) on March 3rd, 2008 12:06 am

    Now you’ve done it. A fight with my boyfriend and a possible ending to our relationship then, while sulking upstairs, I read your blog. I’m angry for totally different reasons but your total honesty punched me in the heart. Tell these tears to stop it right now damn it!

  4. Lisa on March 3rd, 2008 6:40 am

    I feel for you – so here’s a little hug from me to let you know that the internet understands cuz we’ve been there too. And 2 more hugs for those beautiful babies of yours!

    Hang in there! You know it gets better and easier, you just have to get through the tough times first in order to enjoy the good times.

  5. Sara L. on March 3rd, 2008 7:29 am

    Amen. No explanations necessary. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  6. Andrea on March 3rd, 2008 7:45 am

    My daughter was born January 3rd and you just described so well so many things I felt in those first couple weeks. Sometimes I still feel them, especially because my husband is absent nearly every night for a situation that is temporary and will help our family in the long run, but HELLO! Parenting two kids by myself for the first time ever! So no bitching at me that the laundry isn’t done yet!

    I know you know this already, but it does get better. Even before the baby starts to wake up more during the day and interact with you a little bit more, you’ll find your sea legs more and more often until one day, you realize you’ve had them for a couple days straight and you don’t even really know when that started.

    I know that guilt. Recovering Catholic, here, so guilt is part of my gene pool. Anyway, I felt guilty about not being able to give my son so much attention, and I was afraid he’d start resenting his sister because of the many times I had to say, “I can’t get your milk right now because I’m feeding Anna,” and “After I’ve fed your sister.” The worst is the plaintive requests for me to play with him and sometimes I just have to say I can’t. The guilt sign is flashing over my house constantly with a giant neon sign pointing for all the world to see. Then yesterday, he hugged her and said, “I love my sister.”

    Kids are resilient and our first borns will adapt to the new schedule, and the second borns won’t know that they didn’t get as much attention as babies as the first borns did. Then they grow up together and your heart will explode. The end.

    Sorry for the novel. You’ve touched on some of my most raw nerve endings with this post. But I’m right here with you, going through the exact same things.

  7. Jennifer on March 3rd, 2008 8:32 am

    Raising my hand – I understand. XO

  8. breckgirl on March 3rd, 2008 9:46 am

    I get it, totally. We are planning to “try” for number two here shortly and ugh – I dread the thought of all this shit.

    My son is two right now and driving us batshit (we know all about NO NIGHT NIGHT RIGHT NOW) and I fully relate to resenting the man for “escaping.” This weekend my husband wanted to do some work from home and I “got to” take Wyatt to the mall – oh, whee! How fun – dragging him around after my sister-in-law, stuffing chicken tenders into his maw while he screamed about MY BA BOB (that’s “my Sponge Bob” for those not quite in the know). A woman offered me her 20% off coupons so I could “shop” and I fully realized right then that there is no such thing as “shopping” with a 2 year old – the mall really just serves as a big habi-trail for him to run around and expend some energy (it is still snowing here so outside is pretty nasty). Add another one? Not right now, sucka – it’s a good thing it take 9 months for the wee thing to bake in there – I’ll have more time to prepare myself (and stockpile a 2 year supply of Xanax). Anyway – I hear ya – hang in there.

    And hey – if you think your crying thing was weird, get this – I cried the other day when I finished a Turbo Jam DVD and Chalene was telling me how great I did. Man, I am a total nut job…not even premenstrual, just a sap.

    Hope your day today is wonderful and that you order that bottle holding apparatus suggested above.

  9. Kristin H on March 3rd, 2008 11:43 am

    Word, sister.

    My dark moments stand out clearly in my mind. With child #1, I was sitting on the couch, crying hysterically because my husband was leaving. To take a load of crap to the dump. TO THE DUMP. And I was stuck at home with a baby my my boob.

    With child #2, as she struggled and shrieked while to get away from me when I was trying to change a poopy diaper, I totally lost it. I started crying and screaming and thwapping the diaper on the floor, yelling, I JUST! (thwap) WANT! (thwap) TO CHANGE! (thwap) YOUR DIAPER! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?!?!??? (thwapthwapthwapthwapthwap)

    Word.

  10. Daren on March 3rd, 2008 8:54 pm

    I love your honesty.

    And, Amen. Right there with you, baby.

    Also, the one arm for baby AND bottle does work. Just takes some practice.

  11. Where there’s a Willer… on March 4th, 2008 8:20 am

    […] Anyway, thisis perfect. Except for the bit where she crawls into bed and reads a book. I don’t feel like I have the luxury of doing that. Plus I should really buy some new books. Or even join the library. […]

  12. Chicken And Cheese Back In The Saddle on March 5th, 2008 10:20 am

    […] It sounds like an easy assignment, but I’ve got this whole second-kid thing going on. I’m already tired, and I know from reading this and this and holy shit this that I’m in for some fresh hell when Shaggy is born. […]

  13. amanda on March 5th, 2008 3:04 pm

    mrs. c led me to you – wish “my truth” could have been written as beautifully as yours. thanks for writing. thanks for sharing. thanks for understanding.

  14. Jessamyn on March 5th, 2008 3:38 pm

    This made me cry. My second kid’s not even born yet, and already parenting two (at this point, having the hormones of housing the second one in my body is counting, that’s how bad) is kicking my ASS, and I can’t tell you how many times I have just laid down my head and sobbed and felt like such a craptastic parent, and even worse, because I’m not appreciating what I’ve got, which is an AWESOME kid and a long-for pregnancy. I hope you have more of the highs, and that time goes faster on the crap and slower on the wonder.

  15. Jen on May 12th, 2008 7:15 pm

    I read this when it first went up, pregnant with my first. Now that he’s been here four weeks and I’m losing my shit, I came back for a little inspiration and encouragement. Thanks for showing me that I’m not alone. Seeing where you are today compared to where you were when you wrote this lets me know there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

  16. More thoughts on staying home, etc. « incognitus scriptor on April 27th, 2010 11:57 am

    […] yet, I am doing laundry and washing dogs and, obviously, blogging. We’re about to enter what Sundry referred to as the “the long dark tea-time of the stay-at-home-mom soul”. God is she […]

  17. Devya Agarwal on March 23rd, 2014 11:59 pm

    HI,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    I am also a mother of 2 year old naughty daughter…….Almost in similar situation

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