Sunday, January 31, 2010

Insanity Thy Name Is Motherhood

So you feel a lot of things when you're sleep deprived...anxious, angry, sad, weary, hopeless. Last night was particularly hard. I got my daughter Hannah who's two to bed without a tantrum and I got my three month old Jayden to bed an hour early but then it starts..the mental clicking clock in my head. The insomnia of motherhood blows all my teenage and early adulthood days of insomnia out of the water.

My head starts going on and on it's time to sleep. Gotta hurry now cause the kids are sleeping and I've got maybe three or four hours before Jady wakes me to be fed and then god knows Hannah will be up by 6 am. My being on maternity leave and her entering the facinating new world of two year olds means that sleeping is sooo not her priority right now. So tick tick tick goes the clock...Hannah's sleeping..tick tock...Jayden's sleeping....tick tock and I've got to hurry before my vital sleep time is over. It's enough to drive any person insane. That's why motherhood is total insanity. We asked for this craziness. All the cute coos and smiles come with the price of a little lunacy.

I love motherhood don't get me wrong. I love my children. But forgoing sleep for a good six months before you can actually sleep 6 or 7 hours in a row is akin to torture. The seams of my mind seem frayed into a thousand pieces and I can no longer maintain connections that make it ok to feel like complete crap 90% of the time. Thank goodness for my husband shouldering a little of the craziness last night or I'd really go off the deep end. It makes me feel at least a little better knowing he feels as totally helpless and completely crazy as me.

I think that before we have kids we have these romantic notions of parenthood...just as newly engaged people have about married life. As if all your every days are going to be filled with the same bliss of one perfectly planned day. People who think that are quickly awakened to the commonplace nature of real life. Even though I'm more relaxed in my expectations of parenthood the second time around that old familar guilt creeps up and reminds me in my moments of bleery-eyed insomnia that there is no perfect parent. I can't help that I want to scream sometimes. That I'd pay good money just for one night of Xanex sleep with overnight babysitting. That sometimes even though I'll be glad later my kids won't have to be weened off bottles and pacifiers that I would give anything for one night where my breasts aren't the pacifiers he uses to soothe himself to sleep. The only joy I take in these moments is to know I'm an totally normal and that this is what parenthood truly is. All the joy comes with all the craziness and everyone who dares down this path goes through the same things. We love our kids that's why we do this at all and putting ourselves through torture for our infants only to hear them one day tell us they hate us...that my friend is insanity.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Free Is For Me

Most people I know are obsessed with the next big purchase of their lives...a home...a new car...that flat screen TV just in time for the Super Bowl but not me. I've gotten used to doing more with less, being frugal, and accepting handme downs. When I was a kid I had a lot of the things I wanted given to me and like most I got the idea in my head that things equal love. Wrong.

My house was filled with things..too many things and that left a lot less space for the people who lived there. While they were nice things they started to take over our lives in unpleasant ways. I didn't have friends over much and the things that mattered so much at one point started to own my family instead of the other way around.

So there is nothing you can do about your childhood. For better or worse it's over and you can either hang on to old habits or decide for yourself to live your life differently. I did the latter. I worked hard and saved and bought my house just shy of my 24th birthday with my my husband. I drive a used car and have never really thought about buying new..well maybe if my car is having major issues it may cross my mind. We do have that flat screen TV but my husband waited for years for it till we could pay in cash. My husband and I have virtually no credit card debit, excellent credit and could qualify for many credit cards but instead we have two or three tops which rarely get used and then paid off as quickly as possible.

I gratefully accept handme down clothes and toys for my kids who really have no idea what labels are and what the difference is between new and used. I would love to keep it that way for as long as possible...before social pressure and media pressure tells them that it isn't good enough to want what you have but to strive to have all those things others have or those things you should have. I have spent my adult life working at nonprofit organizations and it's truly shaped my perspective. While everyone keeps looking ahead to what's next..what thing will make me happy now, I look to what I already have that others may not. I have a family I love more than anything. I have a roof over my head and my bills are always paid on time, even if I don't always have money for the extras. I am lucky to know what I have. I see all the time the proof that not everyone has what they need let alone what they want.

So I'll keep accepting handme downs, and I love passing things along to family or charities so others can have the things my family needed for a time but doesn't anymore. I enjoy seeing things leave my house when they are no longer useful..a very strange concept I know. Before I go out and buy something I shop my house first and guess what most of the time I find that item I thought I needed to go out and buy. I have found the one constant in my life is that if I always have what I need what I want is exactly the same thing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Toddlers, Tiredness and Tantrums Oh My!

So ironically I think observing my toddler has taught me a lot about life. Tiredness can completely dictate how you behave. Courtesy of my two month old son and my two year old daughter tiredness is a permanent state of being for me.

Toddlers have an almost inability to communicate what they need. They can usually summon the verbal skills to ask for a snack but you pretty much never hear them ask for a nap. Sounds a lot like the adult world to me. We always seem to find a way to want more and more but a lot of the time we have no idea what we actually need and even if we do we rarely muster the verbal skills to actually ask for it.

I've watched my mother her whole adult life work fodr the same small employer without health benefits, a retirement plan or hell even a raise. I had no idea until a few years ago that what I learned by her not asking for what she needed was that I had no idea how to ask for what I need either. Her inability to feel worthy of things and her lack of faith in asking others - that they might actually comply and happily, taught me to feel the same unworthiness.

When I had my daughter two years ago I cried every night of my maternity leave dreading the day when I had to go back to work full time and leave her in daycare. Then slowly I began to hatch my plan. I decided what it was that I needed to be happy. I needed to work part-time and still be able to raise my daughter without feeling like I was missing her life. Work had me stressed out already so I thought a little less pressure would do me good. I decided that I could do without half my salary if I was just going to give it to a daycare anyway. So I asked my mom if she would watch my daughter every day for a half day while I worked and shockingly I even asked my boss to let me work part-time by hiring another part-time person to work the other part of my job.

To this day I don't know how I summoned the courage or why he agreed, but I've been a much happier person ever since. Now as I approach the end of my maternity leave and have to leave my son in my mother's care I know I can face it. I can verbalize it...I'm happy. I can help provide financially for my family and keep my job skills current and I can still feel like I'm raising my kids with the help of someone I truly trust. Who knew that just by asking for what you just might get it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Surgery Has Taught Me

So I just had my galbladder removed three days ago and here's what I learned. Hospitals really suck at customer service, but more importantly families don't. After waiting from 11:30 am - the scheduled time of my surgery until 5:30 pm when they finally got around to talking to me about my surgery I realized that to these people I was a procedure - not a person. A procedure that could be bumped and there was no need to actually talk to me and tell me what was going on.

I could focus on the horrible experience I had or focus on what I learned. My family really stepped up to help me. My mom waiting at home with my screaming 2 month old who didn't know where mommy and subsequently mommy's milk went and with my two year old in all her new found defiance. My husband watching movies with me on his ipod touch so I wouldn't notice how long it was all taking. So here's what I learned. I'm a lucky person to have people who love me and whom I love. Surgery for me was new and it was not just a procedure for me. I was scared but more importantly I wasn't alone and for that I'm grateful. I also learned that it takes three grown adults to do what I normally do alone which I kinda suspected all along.