And Down I Go

I shared this on Twitter yesterday, but sometimes 140 characters aren’t enough, so it’s still with me, and since often the only way to shake a thought or worry that’s bugging me is to write about it, here you go, dear reader: welcome to the inside of my brain. It’s messy in there, isn’t it?

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Saoirse came up to me the day before yesterday (I think?)  and handed me a bunch of papers. “Mom!” she said. “Look! I made a book for you!”  She’s been reading it with David every night before bed.  And ever since she presented the “book” to me, I’m been thrown into a world of guilt because just–JUST–when I thought I was on top of my life, my footing went out from underneath me and I started tumbling down the mound of responsibilities that sits in the middle of my world. Though, to tell you the truth, that mound could just be the laundry.

So here it goes:

  • The dog hair has begun drifting across the floor like tumbleweeds of pet dander.  Gotta love the twice-yearly coat shed and the lack of enthusiasm to vacuum it up every day.
  • The dried goods I just got from the grocery store this morning are still sitting on the kitchen floor in their plastic bags. Yes, plastic, because I can’t find the recyclable ones under the stroller and Baby Bjorn and load of old maternity clothes that are sitting in the back of the minivan.
  • I drive a &^%#ing minivan.
  • The laundry. THE LAUNDRY. The “poop” load of Cian’s, the towels, the sheets, the tablecloths, the clothes, the clothes, the CLOTHES. Over and over and God forbid you fall behind because it will drown you, all of it, in its dirty, spaghetti-sauce stained, spit-up marked horror.  And don’t forget the load of baby clothes sitting in the washer right now that you walked away from because somehow a diaper got into the wash and exploded those awful gel crystals everywhere.
  • Exercise. David gets up at 5:30 a.m. every day to do it. I’ve usually just come back to bed from feeding the baby when the alarm goes off (it’s the sound of the beachside, his alarm.  Isn’t that lovely? Doesn’t everybody love to hear the machine-created sounds of seagulls at five-thirty in the morning JUST AS YOU’VE FALLEN ASLEEP?!). I shouldn’t complain, because yay David for working out. I’ve been trying to go to the gym after he gets home at night, which involves an orchestrated get-dinner-on-the-table/feed-the-baby/change-into-clothes/worry-that-he-won’t-make-it-home-in-time/race-to-the-gym/hurry-through-a-workout/get-home-hot-and-sweaty-and-gross-only-to-rip-off-the-sports-bra-and-feed-Cian-for-the-night routine that may or may not be impossible to keep up.  I’m tired.  So tired.
  • Cian does not sleep through the night. Cian does not wake up just once a night. Cian, my dear son, does not realize that lack of sleep makes his mother a maniacal lunatic.
  • I just noticed sun spots on my hands. You know, like what your grandmother has.  I mention this only because I just noticed them but didn’t recognize them as my own hands.  Does that make sense? And let’s not even discuss that the face I see in photographs lately is not the same person I remember, because that woman I see in the photos looks awfully pale and tired. She should probably, like, take a vacation or something.
  • The two-year-old standing in her door frame, right now, stomping her foot: “Mommy! I wanna come out! I don’t WANNA be in my room.”
  • The five-year-old, right now, begging me for candy: “Why not? That’s not FAIR.”
  • The book, my book, the dream and the chance and the in-between mess of a book that I am on deadline to revise, and revise well, because, hello dream, nice to meet you, it’d be a sure pleasure to make you a reality, you know.  I’m not going to tell you at what stage I am in revisions just in case Katie reads this and decides to drive down from New York to whap me over the head to get on with it already. I mean, I AM getting on with the novel revisions, but it has to happen on weekends, or in the half-hour after lunch when everyone is either playing or napping or pooping (there’s always a child pooping, or announcing she has to poop, or that she’s finished pooping. Always), or at night, after Cian finally falls asleep around 8:30, and I’m holding my eyelids open with toothpicks and I’m drinking tea I really wish somebody had spiked, sitting in the living room upstairs because if I go downstairs to the family room where my husband is the pile of laundry will just form a tidal wave and knock the manuscript pages to oblivion.
  • I have ideas written down for my next book. I AM OUT OF MY MIND.
  • The baptism invitations to order and the Easter baskets to buy and the bills to pay and the paperwork to file and the bedside lamp that suddenly stopped working and the coupons to clip and actually remember to use and the emails to return and the friends to keep and cleaning to do and…
  • Oh, and the children to raise and appreciate while I actually have them home with me. That would be good, too.
  • I mentioned spending time with my husband somewhere in there, right? Didn’t I?

I shouldn’t complain. I know I shouldn’t. I’m sure there’s nothing more annoying than to hear a stay-at-home mom whinewhinewhine about just how difficult her life is. I get it. But you know what? You’re still reading this, so I’m sure there’s something in here with which you can identify, right? Surely? (Please?)

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I’m going to be honest with you. As I finish this, Cian is crying at the top of his lungs, Quinn has started screaming because she can’t find her pet dolphin, and Saoirse is tattling on all of them.  I’m ignoring them all for the moment because I just. can’t. do it. And I fully realize the irony of spending the precious post-lunch time I have to write this instead of doing all the stuff I’m worried about not doing, like the kid-raising and book-revising and grocery-putting-away.  Yeah, yeah, I get it.

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When I’m feeding Cian at night, usually around 2 in the morning, I start to fret. I think about the to-do list I keep in my brain, I worry about how the next day is going to go, and I start to feel the slide as the mountain gives way and I fall. I realized a couple of weeks ago that there’s always one primary task that is most stressful to me at any given time, and that I can either tackle it or decide to discard it. Some days, I’ll admit, that discarded task could be a shower (sorry, David). Some days, it’s the gym. Most days, I skip out on sleep or cleaning the kitchen floor or emailing that friend even though I dearly miss talking to her, and unfortunately, most days what I tend to forego is spending actual quality time with my kids outside of meals and time in that blasted minivan. I’m going to regret that one day. Saoirse tried to warn me so when she handed me her book.

I have a month to get my manuscript ready and out the door to Katie for her review. This is important to me. This is what I want to continue to do once the children are in school, once they’re out of the house, once they’re grown.  I want this book to be the beginning of a career, and there’ s only one way for it to happen. (My brother just sent me this link to an Onion commentary. Have you seen it? Appropriate, right?). When I’m not working on it, I’m thinking about it. I will have to find a way.  I have to put the groceries in the pantry. And get dinner ready. And dig that diaper out of the washer.  And I have to register Saoirse for her gymnastics show, because her sweet little five-year-old heart will break if I forget about it. Oh, crud. And I also have to get the girls swim lessons, and register them for MyGym camp, and respond to a party invitation, and…

Yeah. Well, at least I got a blog post written.

2 thoughts on “And Down I Go

  1. Hi, Leah. Wow, how I can relate to this. And especially in the early months – let me remind you (and you already know this), it will get easier!

    I am totally going to go out on a limb here and offer advice where it’s not solicited. In this post, the bottom line of what I see is … a woman who is trying to do way too much … and not giving herself enough credit for the tons of good that she does each day. My immediate thought as I read is (here we go, the unsolicited advice) to give up the gym for now. Just for now. Because it’s not like you aren’t already staying physically active as a parent of three kids. Even if it’s walking up and down the stairs 10 times a day, carrying laundry baskets full of clothes, etc. Being mom is enough right now. Besides, you’re nursing. That alone burns tons of calories!

    I so wish I could reach out more … come to your house and power through that laundry for you … plan a play date. But since we are only online friends, words of encouragement will have to do. If there is any way I can help you with your manuscript (editing, feedback), you let me know. Otherwise, know you have someone in your corner who “gets it,” who’s “been there,” writing and laundry and all.

    You are in a season now. And that’s all it is, a season. All of these things are little things (you know, “don’t sweat the small stuff?”), but the overwhelm comes when there are so many little things to keep your finger on that the whole situation becomes a big thing.

    And remember, too, you shouldn’t be in this alone. Your husband is just as much a parent as you. Reach out to him for help.

    Hang in there, friend! And remember, you have three healthy and happy kids who adore you. So you must be doing something right!

    -Kate

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