It’s not unusual to hear a “mommy blogger” talk about the inevitable morning from hell. In fact, I’m pretty sure both of you reading this could tell me you’ve experience this exact same morning. The difference? It happened to me. And this is how things shook down:
The 4 year old is in a particular nasty phase. It’s the morph between preschooler and “real boy” that mimics pre-pubecense with pee accidents. It’s a confusing time for everyone involved. This particular morning, the Boy couldn’t get a grip. He woke with a nasty case of being four. He sat, emphatically, at the table and stated: “I will not eat this cereal.” Now, in case there are any four year old’s reading this post let me explain a small known fact among all parents. The minute you state you WILL NOT EAT THIS CEREAL means you absolutely WILL NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE. Eat or don’t eat, we don’t really care. But that cereal? It’s all your gettin’.
When I tried to inform the Boy about this fact, he went in to hysterics. “I WILL NOT EAT THIS! I DO NOT WANT THIS! IIII HHHAAAATTTEEE PANDAAAAA PUFFFFFFFFS!!!!!” Logic doesn’t work on a four year old. It doesn’t matter he was the one that asked for the Panda Puffs in the first place. It doesn’t matter that he wanted to purchase them for six weeks until I finally caved. No, logic and four year olds, as yoda says, do not.
I calmly tell my son he can throw this fit in his room. When he refuses to move, I offer to do the heavy lifting for him. AKA: I pick him up and put him in the room and close the door. At this point sirens in china erupt from sound pollution coming directly from my four year old’s mouth. The Boy, he went mental. Screaming, begging to come out, yelling that he needs a tissue. The list goes on and the time slowed. Ten minutes later, he continued with his fit.
Around minute 18 my daughter turns to me and says, “Mom? That’s really annoying. I can see why you don’t like it when I do that.”
At minute 22, it gets quiet. The door cracks a budge and a small boy, my small boy, creeps out. “Mom?” he shyly approaches me, “I’m sorry.”
Twenty-two minutes of absolute utter chaos, hell, yelling, and testing. Twenty-two minutes of neighbors hating us, of passer-bys judging, of new gray hairs. Twenty-two minutes to prove a point that I hope he understands twenty-two years from now.
And, for the record? He did eat the Panda Puffs. Every soggy last bite.
I remember telling my old boss, years ago, my plan for vacation. “Well,” I started, “I think we’ll be getting in the car and taking a right on the freeway. After that? I have no idea.” He was surprised at this. “No lists? No plans? YOU?” I was just as shocked that he’d expect me to actually plan until I realized I’ve nicely compartmentalized my life in such a way I can live in two extremes: The To Do List and The Not.
Now I worry less that I’m some sort of bi-polar schizophrenic and more of a well-balanced human being. To be successful at work and organized enough to accomplish the tasks at hand, I’m willing to place my items in neat little boxes. Tiny little boxes all sitting in a row. But at home, in my own space, in my own self, I refuse. I want passion, adventure, and not a single task on my todo list to mark off.
Less dichotomy, more necessity.
Perhaps this is the juncture I sit at now. Life with children and a mortgage and after-school gatherings are prone to lists, todo items, organization. I’ve been failing for five years to be the “organized” mom. To actually get a child to school on time. To pay a bill. To remember every field trip and every sheet of home-work.
I’m less likely to condemn myself for that right now.
I’m understanding that I, in fact, have always been this person in my own life. Now, though, it effects other people. Tiny little people. And while it is too late for me to pretend that I’m capable of being all things for them, I am trying to find the balance of knowing I can be enough, just as I am. All messed up, driven to passion, crazed for adventure, and always late for everything. One day, I hope they understand.
*Related post from May 2009: The Acorn and Me.
I’ve been working a lot this week. With five clients, thirteen websites to launch, and several installs to complete, I had to hire a
freaking goddess to come take my kids a total of 28 hours this week while I worked in my office.
Behold Thy Office
It’s been good to get some things off my plate so I can take on new clients. I’ve recently coded these wonderful sites as well as made lots of progress on some other big sites you’ll recognize here shortly.
I’ve also consumed more lattes than I think is humanly possible. I think I pee straight caramel machiatto.
The upside to this, of course, is the fact that I love my job and my co-worker. The downside? The spiders.
Oh, the spiders.
Those damn spiders that fill my daughter’s anxiety ridden mind and make her latch on to my leg like a leech. Or maybe one of those little fish that swim up urethras in the south pacific. You know those? More painful than a leech but not as prevelant.
Kinda like that.
The last time she flipped her shit out like this was just over a year ago when I was teaching online and had to place her in daycare just twelve hours a week because DEARLORD she does not stop moving. Both of my children are the most active/hypervigalent children you will ever come to know in your entire child-bearing life. I swear to god, I have friends, and strangers for that matter, that shake their head and say to me, “you’re busy.” It’s usually about the time my three year old spins in circles until she spotaneously combusts and my ten month old crawls in to the toilet for the eighteenth time that day.
And that’s called Monday. At 8AM.
So to say it’s mother-flipping-impossible to work from home is an understatement. It’s not “difficult”. It’s IMPOSSIBLE. Hear the angst in voice? You should.
I hired some friends, trusted wonderful women whom both my children and I adore, to take them a few hours at a time. The kids really don’t know that much difference. They’re playing with their friends, they’re doing the same things I do with them, I’m just not there. I figure it’s the best of everything.
But it’s not. LB asked me not to work. She asked me to work when she leaves when she grows up.
My three year old asked me not to go.
What do I do?
So it’s just this one week, this one very busy week that I tried to make up for some lost time when I was puking and not attending to my clients. Just this one week wherein I tried to make some clients happy and do the job I adore and have a little bit of me time.
Apparently, I put spiders in my daughter’s mind with my absense.
She screams at night. She howls in terror in the dark. She clings to us, she bawls, she throws up from anxiety. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to help. It’s hard to pee by myself.
It’s just hard.
There’s this drive inside of me, the one that makes me not want to stagnate and use my creativity and my love of all things web programming. Then there’s the other side, the mom, who watches her daughter physically suffer from her absence and the old conflict rises. I’m a mom now. But I’m also a woman. I’m a programmer. I’m a nerd. I’m a big squishy belly of snuggles and warmth to the people I gave life to.
Who am I living for now? Me? Or them?
*This weekend Mamaspod is posting a podcast on working moms. You can see fine interviews from such wonderful women as Elaine, Sydney, Jamie, and Shannon. If you’d like to call in with your own advice, let us know before Saturday night!
**You should totally take a picture of your office for Friglet. Like. Totally.
I composed this letter to my children while I watched them today. It’s a rough draft, something I’ll re-write for years and years, but for now, a little weepy/emotional/slightly irrational and disgusting “Dear God Bring On The Dot Soon” post. (The “dot” brought to you by my good friend Karen who made me nose air when I heard it. Oh, Nose Air? That thing you do when you’re IMing someone and not really laughing but giggle through your nose, affectionately coined by MIchelle and I. Now, where was I?)...
To My Children,
I won’t apologize for talking a little too loudly, for disciplining you a little too often, for making you turn off the TV. I will keep dancing with you in the living room until we’re sweaty and breathing hard. I will continue asking for a snuggle and then asking for another. I will laugh with you in the bath when your hair stands straight up in soap and I will sigh a deep love sigh when I see you sleeping on your dad.
And one day, when time seems to stand still in the long long weeks, days, hours before your first born is here, I hope you remember those things and not the times I lost my shit.
But know it’s ok to lose your shit.
And then remember why you had children in the first place.
And know you are loved by your old crazy mother who could never say it enough but means it more than you know.
I’m learning where the older sibling “Look at me!” syndrome came from.
I was recently asked if having two children was worth it. After all the sleepless nights, the PPD, the jealous older sibling bit.
I finally have a way to express my answer:
After knowing Mr. Flinger for nearly twenty years now, seven years of those married, six of those as best friends, and 5 years of dating, you’d think I kinda know the guy a bit. You’d think that. And you’d be right. Mostly.
For some reason I’ve been approaching this whole birth control thing completely wrong. I’ve been approaching it like a women, with logic and emotion. *We* don’t want to have children, so *we* need to find a solution that works for *us*. *We* need to get a cost effective/low impact solution. *We* don’t need the Mommy (hi) to be an emotional wreck from the hormones of Birth Control Pills (also? I can not be counted on to take them thus making their reliability around 2%) or the IUD*. *We* don’t like condoms. *We* don’t want an abortion. *We* don’t want to do this again. We’re happy. With two. A boy and a girl. Remember?
So why is it that The Other Solution isn’t discussed? Because he doesn’t want to discuss it. Because “he’s not ready for that” and “not man enough” and “someblatheringIcan’tunderstand”.
Then it hit me. A chart. I needed a chart.
Lo, I created a chart.
Remember back when we purchased our garbage can? Remember how
he graphed my hormones during my miscarriage? Did you know he once asked me to rate my daily activities on a scale of one to ten before deciding to go back to Graduate School? You know, to quantify the decision?
Graphs. Charts. Engineer. :: Slaps Forehead ::
:: owie ::
So I decided to quantify the decision. And this is what I came up with.
Note in Figure A we have a cost ration per various solutions. Note that in Figure B, all birth control costs pail in comparison to the cost of raising a child as noted on Baby Center.
Here in Figure C we have the joy ratio of various birth control methods:
And here is the link I’m sending via IM to my husband as we speak.
Did I mention the pocket knife? You get a pocket knife. Snip. Snip.
Maybe now I’ve talked his language, he will talk mine. BowChickaBowWow.
*A note about The IUD. I thought about this route. I thought long and hard. I thought I’d go this route but in order to do so, my doctor wants me to call The First Day Of My Cycle, which as you know, is completely unpredictable and irratic (because the ENTIRE internet knows this about me) and thus have been trying to get in for three months now. Three. Long. Sexless. Months.
**I didn’t even take in the anual cost of therapy the third child will bring, the cases of wine consuned before child reaches four, or the pregnancy tests I will continue to pee on until the snip is complete.
**For your further reading enjoyment.
There are a few standard Saturday Morning experiences Mr. Flinger and I tend to dwell on: “Remember when we didn’t wake up at 6am on a weekend?” “Remember when we used to go out on Friday nights?” “Remember spending money on ourselves?” “Did we used to go hiking on the weekends?” “Didn’t we use to have sex /go to dinner / see a movie / shower every weekend?”
Then we usually laugh, “Buhahaha. No, I don’t remember.”
Perspective changes as often as the months of each year. Very few experiences in life truly and profoundly have the impact to change the steadfast ways of your rutted thoughts. Some days come in and out of memory blurred with every other and change is slow and gradual while other days grab you like the baby fist reaching up from your arms.
Reading through Jessica’s account of her flashback, reminded me of something I’ve become a little more aware of lately. I am a mother. I know this should’ve hit me three and a half years ago, with the birth of my first child. I know this should’ve occured to me before her first birthday, before my second and third pregnancy, before the birth of Baby O. But it’s something that occurs to me in bits and pieces. It occurs most to me when I read of tragedy and realize I immediately flock in my mind to protect my children. I identify more with the parents. I picture their loss. I picture my own life without my children and I crumble from a depth of myself that did not exist until I had them.
Perspective shifts through life, it’s true. From knees at eye level to empathy for strangers. From crib bars to the open road. From teenage self perception to forgetting to eat after caring for your children all day.
Now when I go work for a day at the local coffee shop, I pause and take in my atmosphere a little more deeply. The children, their mothers, the bustle, the families. That I’m not alone in my harried constant being. That it’s not just my family wondering what happened to sleeping in, to weekly date nights, to self preservation.
Instead, I take in the world just a little bit more like my children do now. From their perspective. And it’s a powerful shift that I hope never fades.
We’ve hit a portion of time known in our circle as “the three-and-a-half-year-old” stage. ohdearmotherlivinghell. The “terrible twos”? A warm up. The teenage angst? Being foreshadowed. My mental health? On the wire.
Tuesday we had what could only be referred as “a throwback to Rambo” There was yelling, fighting, dramatic throw-downs. This all in the first ten minutes of the day. She literally turned in to a fish out of water gasping for air because, ohgodforbid, her mother asked her to wipe her own bottom. That’s right, Internet, I forced my child to use her own toilet paper. IknowIknow. I see you shaking your head. Trust me. I disappoint many.
The trouble with this behavior is that I don’t so much like it. And the trouble with not liking the behavior is that it’s not much of a stretch to feel like I don’t like the kid all that much just then. And the problem with not liking the kid just right then is the guilt/shame/I’m-a shitty-mom thoughts that come with it. And the trouble with the I’m-a-shitty-mom thoughts is the previous postpartum depression.
Did you follow that?
Yea, it’s a stretch. I do that.
So I started thinking I was going nuts. I’m never going to survive being a mother. A MOTHER. You know those mom types, right? The ones who are gooey and soft and love their kids? The ones who make pb&j and cookies after school? The ones who come running when their child needs them instead of glaring at her from the other room thinking, “getoffthefloorgetoffthefloorgetoffthefloor” and contemplating have her very own matching fit. Not really the definition of MOM.
Which is why I don’t like labels. MOM. PPD. Crazy-lady. Three-year-old. It’s all so… confining. It’s almost self-fulfilling. It’s a lie.
Just because my daughter and I struggle (and struggle, oh! the struggle) does not mean we will forever. Just because I want to lie on the floor in my PJs all day wishing there was ten minutes of silence does not mean tomorrow I won’t get dressed, leave, and enjoy my children in the sun. Just because I can’t bake to save my life and never remember to seperate the darks from the whites when I do laundry (that’s so 1960’s Alabama, people! I like to think beyond color.) and just because I usually pay bills about four days after the late fees are issued, doesn’t mean I don’t care for my children and hurt when they hurt and cry a little not just because I’m annoyed (again) at the fits (again) but that I’m sad life seems so dramatic and hard to my daughter.
I’m afraid if she thinks it’s hard at three, she may look at her life at 32 and wonder what she did wrong. And that’s no way to live.< changing the topic just a wee bit ... or rather coming out of left field a little >
I’ve now enjoyed every one of your comments on the last several posts. For some reason I was not getting them via email. OHTHEHORROR! (Gee, no idea where my drama queen gets it. Shutit. I hear you snicker.) So forgive my lack of bloggy-etiquette and for not replying to you. I came to my site, read your comment, read your other comment, read a few more and by the time I hit the white square for me to reply, I couldn’t remember what I was going to say because they-were-all-good-comments and how-do-I-address-them-all and didn’t-my-daughter-just-fly-off-the-couch-on-her-brother—-again. So really, I blame gmail.
Let’s all wear a tee-shirt that says, “I blame google,” because really, I can’t wear a tee-shirt that says, “I blame my children.”
or can I?
< Even bigger topic change >
I saw this at Target tonight and giggled. I told you I’m a twelve year old boy. But comon, didn’t you immediately think, “Oh, that Justin Timberlake…” hee.
A little ala FussyPants style:
We took Baby O for his first swing experience the other day. I realized LB I had a picture of LB around the same time swinging her first. So here they are, experiencing the joy of flying, freely through the air with nothing but strong metal and plastic keeping them safe.
If you want to play along, give me a caption. I have no fun prizes to offer you except a hit on technorati and some linky love. And also a cookie. With sprinkles on top.
Is it still wordless Wednesday if there are words? I always get the rules messed up…
18 guests here now.