Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Eat Sleep Play Eat Sleep Play Eat Sleep Play Collapse

I woke up on Monday and was slammed by the Depression Freight Train. Well, maybe the “sad” Freight Train is more accurate since I can’t qualify for being clinically depressed unless feelings of crappy-ness persist for, what, two weeks? Let’s hope this is a short trip.

Anyway, so it was/is basically a combination of the Monday blues and feelings of motherhood failure and that sensation of being at the bottom of another mountain that I have to climb (yeah, that would be the week, aka, my reoccurring mountain). And a few other things.

Motherhood is nothing if not a chance to feel like a failure every day. Does that make sense? What I am saying is, this is the job I want to excel at and it is difficult because my managers (Madeline and Avery) are not very good at giving feedback. Plus, they totally overact at the slightest injustice (Avery screams if she is not allowed to touch my computer; Madeline falls into hysterics if she can’t open her toy backpack.) Children are SO dramatic. Sometimes their little overreactions are funny. Other times, it’s just draining.

And there are no short cuts. This morning I gave them breakfast: blueberry waffles, melon, cheerios and teddy grahams (the cookies were just a desperate shot to get them to eat anything). Everything ended up on the floor. Normally, after every meal without fail, I pull out the dustbuster and clean up the floor, wipe down the table and clean their bibs. But today, I am just so tired. I figured I’d let the breakfast mess mix with the lunch mess and just clean up once. So I released them from their seats and let them play in the kitchen while I cleaned the coffee maker and got the coffee ready for tomorrow, which seems like a priority. While I was distracted by coffee grounds, they proceeded to step on every chocolate cookie, crushing them into 1,000 pieces and getting them all over their feet and the floor. Who knew so few cookies could be reduced to a mountain of chocolate dust? So my little dustbusting break caused me twice as much work. See what I mean? No shortcuts.

I always feel like I am not entertaining them enough, or stimulating them enough, or taking them on enough walks, or arranging enough playdates (or any playdates, for that matter) or feeding them enough or doing anything enough. The books that give a week by week play by play all expired at a year, and I am swimming in the insecurity of “Should they be using a bottle still?” and “How much milk do the need?” and “When are they going to give up that morning nap?” I’m playing it by ear at this point, trying to trust my gut, and that is not easy for me. I sometimes get non-Organic milk and I feel like I am poisoning their little systems. I feel like I don’t give them enough food variety. I don’t change their little sheets enough. The list can go on and on.

So it was Monday and all that as in my head and the week stretched before me, sliced and diced into segments of wake, eat, nap, eat, nap, eat, bedtime for them, bedtime for us. Repeat repeat repeat. I love routine and ritual more than the average person but sometimes even I—the one who abhors changes and the one who craves order—wants to shake things up. My brother and his family are in China right now and I keep thinking that could have been us too. Instead Nicole is slogging off to another week at work and I am here with the girls, trying to add spice to our all-too-regular routine days.

It’s August, and that is my least favorite month of the year because it is the final hurdle between me and my favorite time of the year. I long to wear sweaters and jeans and boots and scarves and mittens. I have a lot to look forward to this fall, so I am ready for it to begin. We are going away a few times and we have the whole wedding in October and apple picking and Nicole’s birthday and fall foliage. I can’t wait.

I also had the horrifying experience of browsing through the barnes and noble website and seeing a book written by an old acquaintance. I was shocked that she wrote a book and even more shocked by the subject of the book. She is not a very nice person. Never was. She was mean and obnoxious and rude and arrogant, and she would admit that too. So to see her now, a writer, an author of a book, a fiction book with decent blurbs from halfway decent writers on the cover. Hello, Green-Eyed Monster. There is no money to be made in publishing a book (you have to me a mega best seller, like Stephen King, in order to really see anything other than a tiny advance) but this book has Hollywood written all over it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is snapped up ad turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. To see another person (I know) accomplish something I would love to makes me feel more feelings of failure.

So this new author’s success lead me to start looking up some of these old friends and coworkers and acquaintances and seeing what they are up to. But I don’t have the energy/ego to reach out to anyone right now, because my biggest accomplishment is buying a new Wet Dry dustbuster, and that makes me feel a little inadequate. No book or big promotion or giant bonus or new job. I know, woe is me. Talk about dramatic. Let’s hope I feel like myself again soon.

Pictured above, the floor after mealtime. Madeline was clearly not in the mood for, specifically, cut-up tomatoes, mozzarella, pasta, chocolate teddy bear crackers or Cheerios. But you can probably surmise all of this just by looking at the floor. Also pictured, Skye in China picking out dinner. This is why I am happy to NOT to be in China. What would I eat? I would lose like 20 pounds. By the way, Mina said SKye's bathing suit cost two dollars.


bleu said...

Oh you sweet woman. I wish I could wave a wand and make you ease up on yourself. We all do it at some point but I really think that sanity, and happiness come from letting go and easing up on our own expectations of ourselves as parents.
As for entertaining them and scheduling playdates, really they just do not need it and I have a personal theory that if they get used to having every minute planned they lose much of their imagination.
I read a great book called Hold On To Your Kids that discussed raising kids peer centered (read playdates and arranging tons of stuff) or raising them parent centered and which worked out better overall for parent child relations later on. It helped me a ton with guilt actually.
I also wanted to suggest making sure your thyroid is healthy as it can really go wonky about a year to a year and a half postpartum and it can lead to all sorts of tiredness and depression and feelings of failure. I had it happen bigtime.

I also bet many of thos friends who have "accomplished" so much would give their eye teeth to trade places with you. I say that not to condescend or minimize your feelings, just as a very gentle reminder not to start doing the whole comparing their outsides to your insides things.

Lastly I think you are doing such a terrific job and are really deserving some huge pats on your own back and I really hope you can find a moment to give that to yourself.

Much much much love

Lynnbug said...

Yeah--you need to give yourself a break. I wonder about my own accomplishments all the time. And then I see someone like you that has children and I feel like that is the most important accomplishment of all. I never had any children and Im single and 48. I could almost be called a loser! LOL I admire women who do what you do. If it helps you feel any better, you most likely are not the only woman who feels like this. My niece has twins and her days are much like yours. She is with them 24/7. But I can tell you that from the prospective of being a child once that time like this with a parent is the most important thing in the world to them. Play dates or not. So just remember how important you are and how wonderful you are!

Anonymous said...

OMG! Please, see yourself as others do. YOU are largely responsible for their safety, their happiness,their growth,their development and they are thriving and happy (even with daily histronics) and, they are on a schedule - which continues to elude us (and we haven't got them taking cereal, yet)! Please PLEASE give yourself the credit you deserve. And for playdates (maybe more for moms than for babies, let us know).

Jenni said...

"Motherhood is nothing if not a chance to feel like a failure every day." Boy does that ever make sense to me. I might have to borrow that one (giving you full credit, of course.)

Kathleen said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling down. If flattery helps at all, yours is totally my favorite blog these days. Thinking of you. :)

amy said...

wow, your description of the role of motherhood is absolutely perfect. they are totally the managers who give little to no feedback. i'm totally going to use that, it's perfect!

i'm sorry that you're feeling down, i think it's totally normal and something i hope you're able to bounce out of quickly. sounds like you have an exciting few months to look forward to. the heat of summer can be totally exhausting so it's no wonder you feel down right now... you're over the wednesday hump now so hopefully the rest of the week will be better!

utRus said...

i relate to a lot of what you said. and i am sorry you're feeling down and i hope it goes away fast!

you might consider working a part-time mother's helper/babysitter/nanny into your life. imagine someone else cleaning up those cookies on the floor just 2 times per week while you check your email or go out to the store or plan a wedding. it's made all the difference for me, and i think my kids are the better for it.

Shereen said...

Motherhood is hard. My wife and I are feeling slightly guilty about how thrilled we both are to be back at work, and have our daughter in full-day summer camps (she's six, so obviously not an option for you). But both of us were craving the space to use our brains, the space to be in control of something grown-up, the space to just be ourselves, instead of Mom or Mama. Maybe you're in need of the same thing. A little space where you get to just be you again. You wouldn't be alone, and it wouldn't make you any less of a good mother - perhaps just the opposite. Good luck, and hang in there. I guarantee you're doing better than you feel like you are.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I found the ages of 1 - 1 1/2 to be the most difficult and bleak with my twins. And I do think it's a LOT harder to feel successful as a mom of multiples. I fell into a funk around that age. And by the way, we never did playdates either - too nuts. The boys entered daycare part time at 1 3/4 years. That took care of play dates! Good luck, and sorry it's not so sunny over there right now. You're not alone.

Anonymous said...

ps- my ego/confidence suffered during that time too, until I went back to work. It feels crappy - sorry you're feeling that way.

Rosany said...

I hope you are feeling better. I am sure that Nicole is helping you feel better about the entire situation. Being a mother brings out all of the demons in us.

Rosany, Pam and the boys,

anna said...

I totally understand the motherhood failure thing. Golly, I feel like the minute I was blessed with finally becoming a mother, I also began to doubt myself more than ever on a daily basis. My twins are only 4 months old so each day I'm still learning something new and hoping that the next day, I can be a little bit better of a mother. All I can say is, I hear ya, sista! I'm glad you have lovely outings to look forward to this fall.