Although the unpredictable and intense postpartum mood swings have settled down for me, with lack of sleep and…well, being human…I really struggle with irritability as a mom. When the kiddos are up, Mom has to be awake and functioning, too. Even when my head feels like a block of concrete that wants to stay cemented to my pillow. The Murphy’s Law of motherhood–if it can go wrong, it probably will, at the worst time–seems to catch me by surprise a lot. It’s difficult to stay calm and in control. Actually, that’s part of my problem: trying to stay in control. I just can’t make everything go exactly according to plan. As moms we often envision the ideal course of events and then beat ourselves up when things don’t go that way, whether or not we really could have done anything “better.” We can’t control others, not even our kids. (We can only do our best to guide them). We can’t control our circumstances, either. Yet we say to ourselves, If only I’d done such-and-such-differently, it would have gone well. Why couldn’t I have done it better? If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we mean “perfectly,” not just better. There’s definitely the time to analyze what worked and didn’t, and learn from life. But there’s also the time for saying, I may not have done everything right but I did SOMETHING right; I made some progress! Because perfection isn’t something humans can attain, but progress is. My husband has been the less-emotional voice of reason encouraging me in this learning process. The other day he even said something that seemed crazy to my type-A, achievement-oriented mind, when I was feeling frustrated with the fact that it had been several days and there was still an unfolded pile of laundry (even though each day I sat down and started folding it! Somebody needed a diaper change; somebody else needed discipline; people needed food; we needed to leave for an appointment, etc. etc.) He said, “Maybe folded laundry should be a weekly goal instead of trying to get it done all at once then feeling bad when it’s not done in a day…or two…or…” Ok, ok, I get your point. As an aside, just now I started to feel guilty that I was typing during a quiet moment as the baby naps because I wasn’t folding the laundry but writing instead. I’m just a poor steward of my time, I told myself. That’s why you never get stuff done around the house. But that’s not the true. A creative outlet is my way of staying (more) sane and energized. It’s my free therapy. So I’m saving money! haha 😉 I firmly believe that while sometimes we need to be critical of the real flaws in our lives and make changes, other times we’re being discouraged by lies about ourselves. Truth gives us a way to be free from hindrances rather than shaming and condemning us. So today, I started to think how I was really not handling our morning well. Part of that is true. I could feel myself getting angry and wanting to act in anger. But otherwise, I actually did some things right. Here’s how it played out: Breakfast over, I moved us into the playroom, coffee in hand, and sat on my favorite rocker. A few glides forward and back, and I heard a creak-crack. UGH! This stupid rocker! We shouldn’t have paid so much for it–even if we used gift cards to pay for it! I’m the one that fought to get this particular one because it reclined, too. Crummy design! I JUST fixed the other side a few weeks ago! Can’t anything be simple?! So I got out the glue and the clamps, which I’d never put away from last time fixing the rocker, and got to work. Of course it was super interesting to littles and they both came trotting over, getting in my way. Sissy was climbing over me, trying to play in the glue drops, which I was fuming about already. Stupid of me not to put a drop cloth down…again. Didn’t learn from last time, did I?! I even remember telling myself this is an evening or nap time project, when the kids aren’t around. Too late now. Glue’s everywhere. My voice raised a bit, I barked out, “Nobody touch the rocker! You could get hurt by the clamps or break it worse!” Babies don’t really listen to reason, so it was silly to expect it from Sissy. She kept climbing over me. Then big bro could no longer resist, and starting inching closer to the rocker on its side. It kind of looked climb-able. “Do you want time-out?! Do NOT. touch. the rocker.” Then he came over to me and started goofing off with Sissy. I now had TWO little people climbing over me. Frustrated with the dripping glue, the cheap quality of the rocker (I mean, card-board-like particle-board pegs holding the slats of the glider together, not even real wood. We paid enough; we should have gotten REAL wood pegs. Erg!!!), and then, lack of personal space. GAH! I felt the blood boiling. Last time had gone the same way. And I blew up at them, I’m sorry to say. I apologized, but that doesn’t erase their hurt feelings at the time. This time, I really felt like blowing up, too. But I knew that would be wrong. Let your gentleness be evident to all, I recited. God, I don’t want to be gentle. They’re SO FRUSTRATING right now. I took a deep breath and said, “Honey, mommy’s upset right now because the rocker’s broken and it’s hard to fix. Please don’t touch me–or the rocker–right now. I need to calm down. I am going to fix this, and then we can play.” I identified the real issue–anger about the rocker–and let my son know how he could help, by giving me space. He gave me some advice, too, “Yes. Talm down, Mommy. No upset!” Hahaa. I know, kid. I know. It’s just a chair. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. What does matter is that I didn’t blow up at my kids even though I felt like it. I’m learning how to better be in control of my actions, the one thing I can control in life, when nerves are raw. Progress.
There are cracker crumbs on my bum. My almost-11 month old little girl has crawled over to me, leaving a trail of Ritz particles, and has pulled herself up to standing by my chair and is sharing her mess with my lower half. She’s pretty adorable as she tries to look utterly pitiful so I will pick her up. Mission accomplished, little agent.
She has reached the stage where containment is despicable. She begs for me to hold her yet wiggles and squirms, discontent in my arms, and then again discontent when I put her down. Security competes with curiosity.
We were grocery shopping yesterday, my little “helpers” and I. During the time I compared prices of cheese sticks (I decided against them, this time. I want a coupon!) she had wriggled, buckled in, so that her feet were no longer in the leg holes of the cart seat, and were instead above the handles. Pretty hilarious looking, but the lady behind me appeared as if she was thinking how I was a neglectful mother. It’s not like I parked her an aisle away from me or anything, woman.
You know what I like best about the cheese aisle? It’s close to the free samples. I have a feeling I’m not the only mom of a toddler who does an inner-happy-dance at the sight of a food-sample container that is miraculously stocked with cookies or donuts or other bad, bad sugary thing that keeps the kiddo (and me, when I throw self-control to the wind…and I usually do with food) sane for another minute.
Anyhow, then when I was checking out and paying for all the groceries, Sissy got herself turned completely around in the cart seat. I have no idea how because the buckle wasn’t that loose, just comfortably clicked in. The cashier on the register behind us was eyeing us like, “Ain’t ya gonna do something about that, Mom?!” Yes, yes of course I am. At the moment my toddler is squashing the grapes and I need to sign the doohickey and load my cart because the people behind me are being impatient. Why don’t they use the self-check-out if they only have three things, anyway?
It’s a good thing to be concerned about a little one’s safety, I won’t fault others for that. However, the other day somebody at the park obviously trusted my son’s ability to safely climb on part of the playground less than I did as I watched from a short distance away and the lady snatched him off, to his alarm. She did it with a “Your mother shouldn’t be letting you do this!” attitude, eyebrows furrowed. She came with a little girl. Hah. Not saying that all little girls don’t climb stuff…but I’m thinking, She hasn’t spent much time with toddler boys. (The ground was rubbery park surface and directly underneath him were squishy tires. He woulda been fine if he fell, though maybe startled. I’d be following him around every second turning blue in the face if I tried to tell him not to do everything he made his mind up to, so if it’s not naughty or fatally injurious, I let it go.)
There was recently a cute youtube video going viral of a little girl whose response to what she considered pestering was, “Worry ’bout your self!” (She obviously had an older sibling and heard it before from Mom or whomever). That line keeps coming to my mind and making me smile. I say it in my mental-narrator-voice as a really mature 2 or 3 yr. old. 😉
I’ve been thinking of writing this post for a while. I’ve been hopeful but hesitant to say “I’m over it.” The postpartum days of no energy. No enthusiasm. No respite from anxiety, frustration, irritation, random and intense anger at minor things, and feelings of isolation and panic. But spring has sprung and with it, my excitement and zest for life. As the freezing weather’s ice and snow melt into memory, I am feeling a renewed vitality. Thank God that though suffering endures for a season, joy comes in the proverbial morning.
(BTW, Psalm 4 was a true comfort when things really stunk. Praying this scripture for myself was encouraging for many reasons. It talks about God hearing our pleas and giving relief from our distress. In verse 8 it says “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” While dealing with insomnia and intense fear and worry over something possibly happening to the kids or hubby or myself, this prayer was awesome. Verses 6-7 talk about God being the one who can show us good, and that he can fill hearts with great joy. What hope that was for me! My desire this year is to better understand and know that God-given joy.)
Does this mean I don’t have bad days? Oh, those still come occasionally. Usually after low sleep or an emotional bump in the road (like disagreeing with my hubby, discouraging attacks from “friends” emboldened by the distance social media provides, and others’ struggles I don’t know how to distance myself from). But they are far less frequent and feel more survivable. Sissy is 10 months old, has 6 teeth, has been crawling for a while and the other day even stood up wobbily. (I think wobbily should be a word, even if spell check disagrees.)
One thing lately that I’ve found renewed interest in is exercise. There’s a 90-day fitness challenge Youtube series I’m doing (sort of…no pressure) that’s designed for moms (so that means kids might be around while you’re working out, and workouts are short and sweet though still challenging). I decided my munching had gotten out of control when I had to go back up a pants size. I am less fit now than 3 months postpartum (I had a wedding to be in that had motivated me then)! Some of the extra muffin-topping might have to do with either using food as a comfort when I’m frustrated with the kids (rather than blowing up) or with the fact that I’m not worrying as much. Anyhow, the other day I asked Hubby if he’d come home for lunch two days a week so I could do a quick jog around the block without the kids as Sissy napped and my little fireman either ate lunch or watched a show. So thankful Hubs agreed! But also…so very sore as a result.
Another thing that has gotten me all excited about life again are all the creative opportunities out there. The spring displays in the stores, especially bulbs and plants and gardening stuff (even though I don’t really garden at this point in my life), spark a lot of daydreaming as I grocery shop. 🙂 The sprouting bulbs and other flower shoots in my yard got me itching to get dirt under my nails. While the kids played nearby, either blowing bubbles or discovering sticks to gnaw on (ok, so I didn’t have an eye on Sissy every single second), I got my little shovel down in the soggy soil and scooped up stray plants. Here are the results of my recent spring-spiration (hmmm…not sure if that word works…what do you think? Spring+inspiration?) :
I’m not entirely sure I will keep the wreath that way, but after my winter leaves and berries dried up and I took them off, I didn’t want to pitch the wreath I had covered in moss from my yard.
I don’t remember what kind of little bulb this was last year, but I didn’t want it to get mowed over this year so I rescued it from the random spots in the yard. (As an aside, isn’t the play set my dad built the kids from scratch and discarded playground pieces like the slide and see-saw-type swing, plus water-barrel-turned-tunnel AWESOME?! Big bro is enjoying what he calls his “fireman ladder” a lot lately.)
This last one I did today with an assortment of yardage (or so I call it), but it’s kind of sad looking. I’m hoping it perks up but until then, I have make-shift plant stakes (see the brown-twiggy things? That’s the leftover stems and stake for artificial flowers. Organic-looking yet keeps my wilty bulbs propped up. 🙂 I feel smaht for coming up with that one!)
I like moss, so it is usually featured in the outdoor projects I do. 🙂
Lots of rain lately. I kind of like rainy days, but mostly when they are separated by lovely warmish days we get to go outside during. Soon, I’d like to turn a mint green sink my friend passed on to me into an herb garden planter. Rather keen on that idea. Just need a good chunk of time. Maybe this weekend?!
Friends have been having babies and I’ve been doing nap-time sewing projects for gifts. That’s always fun. My favorite gifts are the ones that don’t take very long but the babies love, which are the taggy jingle or rattle toys (probably would also make a good cat toy if stuffed with catnip. haha) Another quick project are these binkie clips. Sissy’s not a binkie baby but Big bro sure was, and I found these quite necessary for outings, or boy would we be in for it!
A friend took me to a fabric store in town I’d never been to. Sensory overload! Everything was way over my price range (I don’t want to pay more than $4/yard if I must buy fabric new), but I was very inspired. I have some fabric projects in my think tank now, including a dress for the little miss.
I made vanilla again recently, too. Also bought some soap-making supplies. Soap-making has always sounded like too much work, but I would truly enjoy learning how to do it now that I’m building my essential oil collection after learning to make chap-stick last year. Got back into cloth-diapering (it’s day 2. No promises) after feeling like I’m not so overwhelmed with everything.
I’m optimistic about what the future holds. Even if there are potholes in the road ahead, it’s good to be excited about traveling down it again.