Wednesday, December 20, 2017

tired ramblings

Today the girls and I drove into Boston for Nathan's work Christmas party.  He had mentioned the words "free childcare" and I had said, "I'm in," and so in we went.  As it turned out, the child who actually requires the most care was having none of it and spent the entire time with me, which I had pretty much predicted.

At the luncheon, someone asked me which of the three Sunday church services I attend at the church where Nathan works.  I suddenly realized, as I answered him, that I no longer felt remotely apologetic about the fact that I do not, in fact, attend church there at all.  {Church work is the only field in which one might be expected to go to work with one's spouse, incidentally.}  I simply smiled and said, "We're on the four-times-yearly plan around here, I think."  I thought about inviting him to drive home with us so he could witness for himself the baby screaming for the 40-minute drive, the five-year-old wailing from the back seat that she's car sick and she doesn't know if she's going to throw up but she thinks she might, and the three-year-old punctuating it all with a few well-placed kicks on the back of my seat.  All while I try to keep myself pulled together as I drive across a bridge which has given me anxiety ever since Molly was born, because I'm now quite certain that were a bridge to collapse {highly likely, of course} and send myself and my children plummeting into the ocean, I could not save all three of them in time, and that thought strikes postpartum terror into my heart.

On that lovely drive home, I turned on the radio for some Christmas music.  As she has done every time I turn on the popular music station this season, Ree immediately declared, "THIS ISN'T REAL MUSIC! THIS IS JUST AN AD!"  I guess that when your mother is a classical musician and your father is a sacred church musician you end up thinking all popular music is just that stuff you've heard in ads on the spotify station in between the "REAL MUSIC."

As if to prove Ree's point, a song I loathe, "So this is Christmas," came on.  With all due apologies to Yoko and John, I just don't get that song.  It sounds like it could have been written by a four-year-old.  And while I get the whole war protest thing, the "without any fear" line always sounds so lame.  Maybe lame is what they were going for?  Ironic?  Avoiding all the happy sentimentality of most seasonal pop songs and filling the air with lame statements instead?  I don't know.  In the three minutes or so it took the song to play out, I thought of plenty of other options that could rhyme with "new year."

Let's hope it's a good one
not sprawled on a bier

Let's hope it's a good one
with plenty of cheer

Let's hope it's a good one
with ones we hold dear

Let's hope it's a good one
let's get things in gear

Let's hope it's a good one
with no one to jeer

Let's hope it's a good one
at the top of the tier

... You get the idea.  I'm not saying I'm a stellar poet, but really those are in keeping with the overall level of the song, in my opinion, and any of them make at least as much sense as the dumb bit about fear.

We survived the car ride home and had some good old-fashioned family fun, even with Nathan working super late tonight -- dinner in the family room while watching the old classic Rudolph!  Marie screamed in terror at the Abominable Snowman while I paced with frustration at the Abominable Baby who was exhausted and fussy but wouldn't sleep.

Molly is the currently the cutest, sweetest nine-month-old on the planet, but also fully in the throes of separation anxiety and, having discovered the joys of object permanence, it would seem, she knows I exist somewhere in space and time even in the brief moments when I am out of her sight.  She is therefore happiest only when in my arms or, occasionally, playing at or near my feet.

Also, she doesn't sleep unless she is nestled against my body.  Aside from one brief week about a month ago where she took a couple of good two hour naps, she hasn't taken a good nap in months, and will only nap in the baby carrier on my chest.  She doesn't go to bed properly at night and spends the first part of each evening in the carrier again, until I go to bed and she nestles against me.  Tonight she had been yawning and rubbing her eyes but fighting sleep, and after changing three unexpectedly poopy diapers in a row when she ought to have been sleeping instead of, ahem, eliminating, and then having her still fighting sleep tooth and nail, I declared, "Molly, don't take this the wrong way, but I need some time without you attached to my body."

She took it the wrong way, I guess.  She stayed awake for another hour.

I think she's terrified that she'll go to sleep and I'll leave.

In the meantime, while she may not be exhausted, I surely am.

I guess it should be no surprise to me that mothering is hard, since I distinctly recall my own mother saying many a time, "Being a Mom is really hard."  As it turns out, she was right.  I wake up each morning frustrated that my house is still messy and my to-do list is still long and the scale is still telling me a number I dislike.  I resolve to address all of these issues, but by evening my house is still messy, my to-do list is still long, and I really want to drink a glass of wine or a mug of peppermint hot cocoa, or both.

Someday I'll look back at pictures like this and think, "What messy house and fussy children?  Look at those adorable children with the felt holly berry hair clips I made them!  Life was perfect!"
I want my precious, cherubic children (see above) to listen to me, to cooperate quickly in all the ways that would make my own life easiest, and most of all, I want this baby to sleep.  I started out with this third baby resolved to do anything I could to create good sleep habits from the start.  Then she was colicky and screamed for several months basically only stopping for breath, and we were in complete survival mode and following the "do what works" strategy of parenting.  She outgrew the misery eventually and then for a brief while she became a magic sleeping baby!  Then the four month sleep regression happened and she forgot how to sleep.  And finally when there was a light at the end of that tunnel, she got a cold and her two bottom teeth pretty much simultaneously and all was misery and woe again.  And apparently, we haven't recovered -- and she's gotten a second bout of congestion and coughing just to keep the party going around here.  I'm torn between thinking that if I keep carrying her constantly she will just keep getting that much more used to it, and thinking that short of a "sleep training" method, what else can we do?  And I'm torn between being too tired to keep this up and being too tired to change anything.

It's not that I don't try to put her to sleep in the rocking chair or the crib, or to transfer her to her crib once she does fall asleep in the Lillebaby carrier.  Oh, I try.  And she immediately wakes up screaming and stays awake for another 1-2 hours.  This is beginning to seriously deter me from wanting to try, because while I want her to sleep without being attached to my body, what I want slightly more is just for her to sleep at all.

I know both our older girls had definite challenges in sleeping as well, and while I may not recall the specifics or details, I certainly recall the frustration and fatigue in a general sense.  These days they are both reasonably good sleepers, with Nell sleeping just fine and Ree sleeping OK with an occasional nightmare of "bad eyes in the dark" or "bad mice" or other such frightful specter.

I keep thinking how amazing it would be to get a nice two hour nap in the mornings or afternoons where I could get some housework done without a baby strapped to my chest, or read to the girls in peace and quiet, or even just put my feet up for a bit.

I'm trying hard to remind myself that these struggles, while real and challenging, are just a season of my life.  We will have future seasons to come where our children won't need me in the same constant and physical way, but those seasons too will have their struggles.  They will be different struggles, and it's probably just as well I can't see the future to know what it brings, or I would crawl right into my flannel sheets, right on top of that small soaked-in spot of baby poop from a diaper blowout in the wee hours of the morning which I've frankly been too exhausted to change and wash.  I'd breathe deeply of the dirty sheets, throw a blanket over my head, and never emerge again.

As it is, it's one day at a time.

And tomorrow is the day when I'll clean my house, tackle my to-do list, and lose ten pounds.  And wash the sheets.

No comments:

Post a Comment