Today is better. I got a decent amount of (interrupted) sleep, and Andrew is home to enforce the toddler’s nap. And play with the toddler. And stuff. So I don’t feel like a horrible mother today. But, oh, yesterday.
I actually went down to the in-law’s yesterday so Jack could play with his beloved grandparents and swim in their pool and be entertained by someone other than me. This hour-long drive was possible thanks to the discovery of swaddling whilst in the car seat, a solution I did write about yesterday but which was cut off from my post for some reason. (That reason? My own failure to proofread.) I edited it today if you’re interested. Since Jack spent about three hours playing hard in the pool, I figured he’d fall asleep on the drive home and have at least an hour-long nap if not longer. Unfortunately, he heroically kept his droopy eyes open for the whole drive and then refused to nap once we got home. He did “rest,” but no nap, and that means no break for me.
Nevertheless, despite the lack of nap, Jack was basically cheery and easy to work with. A morning with Grandpa will do that, I guess. But I was hot, tired, and overwhelmed, so I started to cry – again – at about 4:00. Jack asked me why I was sad. “Because I don’t feel very well, today, Jack. I’m pretty tired.”
“Can I make you feel better? Do you want to take a nap?” asked Jack.
“I’d love to take a nap, honey, but I can’t if you’re awake,” I told him.
He nodded, then headed for his bedroom. “I’ll go take a nap so you can take a nap and feel better, Mommy,” he said.
Then I felt like a humongous jerk.
Now, I knew he wasn’t really going to take a nap, so I changed the dirty sheets on my bed. I was just getting started when he came in and said, “Do you feel better now, Mommy?”
“I do, Jack, thank you. Do you want to help me change the sheets? That will help me feel better too,” I said. So he helped. And he really did help as best he could; he held the corner of the fitted sheet so I could put the other ones on, and he tried to hang the flat sheet the way he thought it should go. (Draped over the “holy water;” he thinks the bedposts look like holy water fonts. They kind of do, actually.) Then he climbed up on the bed and said, “I’ll make you feel better,” and hugged me.
So while one part of me was saying, “See? Look what a sweetheart of a little kid you are raising!” the other part of me was saying, “YOU DO NOT DESERVE THIS GOLDEN CHILD.”
But then there was an incident after his failure to eat dinner wherein he dropped a blueberry on the floor and refused to pick it up and had a loud screaming tantrum while in time out. The first part of me started saying, “WHY DOES MY LIFE SUCK SO BAD?” while the other part of me was saying, “You should have made him take a nap! Now look at him!”
Now, I know I was being far too hard on myself. I know we’re none of us perfect. I even knew it at the time; I actually am able to keep at least one corner of my mind rational, even when I’ve completely lost the rest of it. But the mere fact of knowing I’m being irrational does not magically make the irrationality go away, and I spent some quality time after Andrew got home weeping about how horrible of a mother I am. Then of course, Jack came and gave me MORE hugs to make me feel better and then he told me he loves me, which just put me back in that first loop of what-a-good-kid-you-have-and-don’t-deserve. I’m even getting a little verklempt about it right this second – probably because the Nora-furnace is strapped to my body and I daren’t put her down if I want to finish this post.
Basically, I’m finding that on good days, the days when I’m on my own and still manage to get Nora to nap in her bed, Jack to nap at all, get dinner on the table, and keep the house from looking like it has been ransacked, I feel like I am superwoman. “I am amazing!” I tell myself, full of confidence and optimism. “I can do ANYTHING!”
But these days are counterbalanced by the days when it is all I can do to keep from screaming at my children. Yes, both of them, because, believe me, I want to scream at Nora too. And the thing is, on those days, I usually fail. OK, I may not scream at them, but I am certainly losing my temper on a regular basis, and they’re not even being particularly bad. Nora just wants to be held, after all, and Jack is pretty well-behaved as long as he’s not overtired. Of course he wants to dawdle and look at rocks before climbing into his car seat! He’s TWO.
Man. I hate to write in clichés, but it is just so so hard, you know? I am comforting myself with listening to stories of my mom’s difficulties after my second sister was born (apparently, she was… willful*) and Swistle’s post about having only two kids and how it was way harder than five. And also Paul’s comment about how “These are the best days to remember.”
Paul is a wise man, I think.
*Interesting side story: My eldest sister was astounded when she learned that my last sister (the second youngest in the family, played Kasey in The Movie.) and I thought that my mother never yelled and that our second sister is perfectly even-tempered. She had different impressions, you see. But Second Sister IS even-tempered NOW. She’s a special needs teacher, she’s so even tempered! I have never heard her raise her voice in my life. And my mother yelled at us now and then, but it always scared the bejeezus out of me because it was so rare. I guess she had gotten mellow by the sixth kid.