Category Archives: A piece of my soul

Tired

I’m tired.

I’m the kind of tired that can’t be fixed with a couple of hours of extra sleep.

I’m tired way down in my soul. I’m overwhelmed by all that I should be and all that I am not.

I have often heard the phrase, “I’m raising a human being, not managing an inconvenience.” I repeat this to myself over and over because in all honesty, I sometimes feel like the latter rather than the former.

Having children provides constant, unrelenting stress. We all know that. The follow-up to that sentence is usually, “but the moments of joy make it all worth it!”

What does it mean that I don’t always believe that?

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I’m Not Supermom… Yet

I want to be Supermom.

I see article after article, blog after blog, talking about letting go of the Supermom ideal.

But what if I don’t want to? What if I need that goal to avoid being Mediocremom? Isn’t it ok to strive to be the very, very best I can be?

It is a lot of pressure. I rarely measure up. But it’s a goal. It’s something I can and will continue to reach toward, stretching my arms up a little more each day. I feel like my kids deserve that. This is my career for the foreseeable future and I think I owe it to my family and to myself to work really hard at it.

Yes, I want to cook a homemade, healthy, full dinner for my family every day.
Yes, I want to volunteer and be on the board of my local Mothers of Multiples club.
Yes, I want to provide new and creative invitations to play for the boys.
Yes, I want to keep a clean, neat, inviting home for my husband to come home to every day and for all of us to enjoy.
Yes, I want to provide many opportunities for my boys to have enriching, social-skills-building activities.
Yes, I want to continue to look nice and dress well (i.e. not hang around in pajamas or sweat pants).
Yes, I want to keep my energy up and have some “me” to give to my husband at night.

There are days when I feel I just can’t do it. I look around and feel overwhelmed about what I need to accomplish. I open a jar of spaghetti sauce and dump it on some pasta without even bothering to make vegetables or a salad. I fall into bed hoping my husband will already be asleep and not looking for anything. I leave the boys to amuse themselves in the playroom for much too long. People say, “it’s ok! You can’t do and be everything! Give yourself a break!” But I feel like giving myself a break leads to giving myself excuses for not doing what needs to be done.

I need Supermom-me following me around, kicking me in the ass and telling me to put my big girl pants on.

What does being a Supermom mean to you?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Anniversaries Come and Go

My first anniversary was yesterday. I’d been worrying over it for weeks and so was secretly glad when neither of us mentioned it. It was a tough day with the twins, and OW was working on our taxes. It was cold as hell (if hell were as cold as North Carolina in the Winter) and windy, so we didn’t even discuss having a Sunday outing.

When it was time for bed, I had a pit in my stomach as I crawled in. I was anxious and couldn’t sleep. As midnight neared, I felt like I ought to at least wish him a happy anniversary but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Then both of the boys started screaming, so that put an end to that.

This morning, just as OW was walking out the door I said, “Happy belated anniversary.” He looked stunned. “No! What are you talking about? It’s tomorrow!”  He’d gotten it into his head that we’d gotten married on Valentine’s Day. I don’t know why, because one of our big discussions when deciding on the date was that it was too close to Valentine’s Day.

He told me he had a present and a card and everything and just felt stupid about mixing up the date. The pit in my stomach came back and I felt the blood drain from my face.

I . have . nothing .

I don’t even have a card. I blurted out that I hadn’t gotten him anything and he told me he doesn’t want anything. “Besides,” he said, “I bought the gift for you last year, so I’ve had it for a long time.”

This was supposed to make me feel better but it made me feel even worse. He’d been thinking about our first anniversary since last year.

He is so thoughtful.

I am so… not.

Do I pack up the twins and wander around town today, desperately trying to come up with a gift? Honestly, it’s been such a hard week-and-a-half with Peanut Butter and Jelly that all I really want to do is run away and curl up in a cave somewhere.

UPDATE: I did pack up the twins, but didn’t roam all over town. I remembered him mentioning something he really wanted but didn’t feel he could justify the cost of. It’s the entire series of Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray. I know he’ll love it and I know he’ll force me to watch all six of them. It’s wrapped and ready to give and I feel much less stressed out.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Feeling Incompetent

Today has been one of those days where I am pretty sure I just can’t do it. I feel completely inept at taking care of my children, my husband, the house and myself. The sleeping problems around here seem to be getting worse, not better, and I am exhausted.

I haven’t been to the supermarket in nearly two weeks. There are mountains of crap piled up on both the dining room and kitchen tables. The kitchen is only clean because Super-Husband cleans it, runs the dishwasher and empties the dishwasher every day. The floors – oh the floors. We have a sand pit in the area next to the dog door. Dog hair tumbleweeds drift across the living room. I can’t remember to do basic things like call the pediatrician for a refill on Jelly’s reflux medicine. Poor OW probably doesn’t remember what I look like naked. I’m so miserable and ashamed about how I’m neglecting him. I swore I wouldn’t.

You know how they say the Universe (or God or Allah or Goddess – take your pick) doesn’t give you more than you can handle? That’s a flat-out lie. It’s a lie. People regularly get more than they can handle. The fact that folks live, physically, through hard times does not mean they “handled” it. People freak out, retreat, end up in psych units, drink, drug and lots of other things.

I’m not drinking (much anyway), drugging, near being committed or anything like that. I am freaking out and retreating. We ARE given more than we can handle sometimes. Now is one of those times for me. There is a voice in the back of my head that whispers, “They will grow out of this. This isn’t forever. You will sleep again. You will be able to vacuum the floor again. You will shave your legs again. You will be able to make time for your husband again.” But I don’t believe her.  I’m having a really hard time seeing past the sleep deprivation; past the endless, miserable days when the boys simply will not sleep.

I made a decision last week that was really, really hard for me, and I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing. I think that’s adding to the stress I’m feeling. I’m not good at making decisions, which is why I married a man who is great at it, and I am nearly always happy to defer to his judgement. But this was a decision only I could make and no one could or can really help me with it.

I come back all the time to the nagging worry that I will not make good decisions and that my poor decisions will negatively impact my children and haunt them into adulthood. I know this is a possibility because I see the results of my bad decisions in my two adult children. The regret I live with is crushing and makes me feel nearly paralyzed when it comes to making certain decisions about the kids in Parenting Part II. I KNOW that I am inept in some ways. Not in every way, I’ll give myself that, but in ways that count. I didn’t think I would have to revisit my shortcomings in this area again. Now here they are, bright and shining in my face like an interrogation lamp.

Maybe I’ll be able to see things more clearly once I’ve had a few days of decent sleep, but I don’t know when that will be. In the meantime,  I am desperately treading water, trying to stop the waves from pushing me under. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just stop kicking, but I know I can’t. And I won’t.

But damn, my legs are tired.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Just Write, #2

Linking up with Just Write

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The babies wake up happy, as usual. We nurse and smile and talk to Daddy and the dogs. Diapers are changed, laundry is started, the Today show keeps me company in the background. I’m hungry and cross my fingers, hoping they’ll stay happy long enough for me to scramble an egg.

They don’t, and I have to turn off the stove halfway through the process. Peanut Butter is extra hungry and Jelly isn’t far behind. I don’t want to start the day with formula. I won’t start the day with formula. We’ll nurse every 30 minutes if we need to. I’ll put off giving them formula until at least noon. I am determined.

But so are they. I give in and decide that 2 ounces will be enough to take off the edge and we will resume our nursing non-schedule. Jelly is happy enough and plays with his toes. Peanut Butter is not. He is still hungry, so I pick him up and nuzzle him into my breast. He screams and arches his back, over and over. I prop him on my shoulder and pat his back, trying to whisper calming and encouraging things to him. I try again, he screams louder. I am struggling to hold in my growing anger.

Maybe he’s not hungry. Maybe he needs to be distracted by a toy. This doesn’t work and he continues to scream. We try the breast again and the rejection is tearing at my heart. I sob and shout out and pound on the arm of the couch. There is milk there! Why won’t you take it! Why are you rejecting me?

This is the only thing I can give you that is truly unique. Anyone can bathe you. Anyone can hold you. Anyone and smile at you and play with you. Anyone can give you a bottle with that wretched liquid in it. Your rejection feels so personal and it fills me with an irrational rage. I’m angry with my body, and myself and even you. I’m angry at myself for being angry with you. You’re an infant, telling me what you need in the only way you know how.

But every drop you take from that bottle is a drop you don’t take from me. Every drop is a reminder of my failure to provide for you. If I can’t take care of you in this most basic way, how will I be able to be a good mother to you in the rest of your life? These thoughts are ridiculous, I know. But they are so big and so real and sometimes, often even, I want to just give up. I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and leave the rearing of you both to someone who can do a better job.

I resign myself to giving you a 4 ounce bottle. Drink what you want of it. I’m obviously unable to give you what you need and want. Six ounces is more than half of my daily goal of keeping the supplementation at or below 10 ounces. I know that the more formula you drink, the less I will produce and I am filled with dread and sadness at the prospect of you weaning early, but I can’t leave you hungry.

All is quiet now. Your brother is having his morning nap and you, satiated, roll across the floor and giggle at the dog. I cry and wonder what sort of monster I am to project my own feelings of inadequacy on a helpless child.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

On Blogging, Part 2

A while back I posted on the pressure I put on myself to blog three times a week. It was making me sort of sick to my stomach and causing me some stress, so I decided to just post as I wanted to, whether that be one time, three times, or even five times a week.

You can see the results of that. I haven’t posted in nearly two weeks. It’s not that I don’t have subjects in mind or even that I need to sit down and hash something out. I have many posts pre-written in my head. The problem is that now that I don’t have the pressure to perform, I simply don’t perform. I don’t make time for it and that bothers me.

I’d like to find a balance between putting some pressure on myself to post, and having a sense of forgiveness for myself as well. I’m a person of extremes, so I don’t know how to do that.

Right now time seems to be slipping away from me. The house is a mess, I often forget to start dinner until it’s almost too late to bother, My personal grooming habits have, uh, deteriorated somewhat and my kids sometimes wear the same footie pajamas 24 hours a day for two or three days in a row. What am I doing with my time? I never seem to stop moving so I don’t understand why nothing is getting done, including writing. I’m beginning to become really overwhelmed. I know I would feel better if I got the house under control and wrote several blog posts to have in the coffers but I just don’t know where or how I’ll find the time.

How do you find (make) time to write and take care of all of your other duties too?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

OW and the Fluish Weekend

OW and I had big plans for this past weekend. We had men’s night/women’s night out with his church (I’m not a member but they graciously welcome me to all of their events). We had his law school reunion picnic Saturday morning, and we planned to go to the state fair Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, OW woke up Friday morning with a fever and body aches. Our whole weekend was shot.

I felt badly for him, and tried to take care of him, as much as he let me, but I feel an odd sort of resentment. It’s not resentment directed toward him, exactly. It’s just that I was really looking forward to having some family fun time. Ever since the babies were born six months ago, it seems like every weekend involves doing work around the house (the nursery still isn’t done) or OW either wanting to do nothing but vegetate or having to go in to the office. I was really excited about doing real family stuff. The kind of stuff real families do.

Instead, I spent the weekend bringing him Tylenol and trying to convince him to eat and drink plenty of fluids (neither of which he did). And I sort of resent it.

Because

I TOLD him to get the flu shot. I TOLD him he had to do it now that we have the babies. I TOLD him to do it at the beginning of September.

All-mighty, All-knowing OW rolled his eyes at me. And now we’ve had a ruined weekend that we can’t get back.

Whew. That just sort of burst out.

So I guess my resentment is directed toward him more than I thought it was. I shouldn’t be so petty, but I’m alone with the twins for a minimum of 12 hours a day, every day and it’s hard. I know he works really hard but he gets to eat lunch every day. He can eat alone if he wants to, or with friends, or at a park, or in a restaurant. He speaks to grownups every day and doesn’t walk around soaked in someone else’s bodily fluids.

He’s really helpful in the mornings and evenings on weekdays. It’s the weekends I really hate. I often get the feeling he thinks he should have the weekend off. Well, me too Buddy.

I know all of this is the age-old gripe that moms have. I can’t write about it in a new, fresh, witty way. I’m just annoyed and wanted to hang my dirty laundry right out on the Internet’s clothesline. So there!

P.S. On this day, exactly six months ago, I gave birth to two beautiful, tiny, human beings. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s only been six months, and sometimes I can’t believe it’s only been six months.

Jelly & Peanut Butter

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

On Blogging

I made a commitment to myself when I started this blog that I would post three times a week. This week I missed both Monday and Wednesday and I’m hoping to get this posted before Friday is over.

I’ve been thinking about why I’m blogging, what I hope to get out of it, and why I’ve put pressure on myself to post so often.

Part of the reason I started a blog is that I am not free to talk about some things that are important to me or are difficult for me to talk about with people in my offline life. This is a self-imposed restriction. No one is telling me to shut up. I’m just embarrassed about some of my darker feelings. Of course, everyone has little complaints about their life, their spouse, their mother, their kids, and those complaints are often not appropriate to share with the people closest to us. I don’t want to make OW feel badly by telling him that his end of day breath mixed with the odiferous diet cran-grape he drinks all evening makes me have to turn my back to him in bed in order to avoid gagging. But there are other things I keep deep inside that I’m afraid to share with the people in my life. There is something freeing and cathartic about revealing those secrets (nearly) anonymously with other people.

I hope my embarrassing incidents, weird confessions, worries and even dark moods are things that other people can relate to. I write not only to get it out of my system but also in hopes that I will get some kind of confirmation that I’m not completely wacko. In that sense, I hope to reach out to other moms who share my concerns, worries and joys as well. I want to know that I am not alone in this and I want other moms to know they aren’t alone either.

Why did I commit to writing three times a week? I know that most people won’t bother to read a blog that’s not updated regularly, and I know that writing frequently will improve my writing in general. Unfortunately, the pressure I put on myself to meet my own deadlines is stressful. It’s very difficult for me to find time to sit at the computer and write. I have to do it during naptimes or after the twins and OW have gone to bed. Those are also the times I have other things that need doing. I feel guilty about sitting here “doing nothing” while there is so much in the house to be done.

If you blog, why? What do you get out of it? Do you put pressure on yourself to blog a certain number of times per week?

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Up by the Bootstraps

Last week I wrote that I was feeling overwhelmed and rather hopeless. I appreciate the support I received and it’s great to know that there is a caring community of women out there willing to help, even when they’re reaching out to someone they’ve never met.

I still feel overwhelmed. My boys are rarely taking more than 20 minute naps and it’s really difficult to even find time to shower, much less eat, clean up, or cook dinner. I also miss being able to just hang out online for relaxation. I stay connected via my smart phone, scrolling through Twitter and my forums with one hand while I nurse or just hold a sleeping baby. I stay up way, way too late at night after they’ve gone down for the night. I write or read, and it’s virtually the only time I have to write blog posts. I made a quiet commitment to myself to write a post three times a week because I know it’s good for my soul and for my mental health. I get to write here about things I can’t tell anyone in my life. I don’t have real friends in my offline life. I am developing friendships with a couple of other moms I’ve met but we’re definitely not up to the level of true sharing. My husband is my best friend but there are lots of things I don’t want to share with him because he’s a dude and because I don’t want to put additional pressure on him.

I’m not feeling quite as hopeless this week as I did last week. I feel like I’m sort of teetering on the edge of depression but I’m not there. I do know all about severe depression and I’ve been hospitalized a number of times. I was diagnosed years ago with Bipolar II. My manic episodes are not as common as my depressive ones and the medication I’m taking seems to have almost entirely eliminated the mania. I think it also helps keep me from plunging into the deep darkness but it’s not pure magic. I have a responsibility to myself to do the things that help keep me out of that hole.

When I am at this edge, I know that it is up to me to take measures to avoid disaster. Once I start sliding down it becomes much more difficult – nearly impossible – to pull myself back up.

So I’m committing myself to doing some of the things that I know will help me. If I still feel like I’m sliding I’ll call my doctor and get an appointment.

  • Stare at my little miracles and think about what miracles they really are.
  • Talk to people, not about the depression but about life and my boys and our family’s activities.
  • Do tangible things for other people. I’m not in a position right now to commit myself much in the way of charity work, but I can make a card for my friend down the street or make some banana bread for my neighbor.
  • Go for walks in my neighborhood in the evening. Many of the families here do this and it’s a good way to connect with people, develop friendships, and get some fresh air.
  • Let as much natural light into the house as possible. In lieu of that, turn up all the lights.
  • Do little things around the house to make it more pleasant. Light a scented candle. Take five minutes while the boys are napping to sort through a pile of papers. Make the bed (this is a surprisingly effective pick-me-up for me).
  • Watch really funny sitcoms like The Office, Community, The Middle, and Modern Family. If I can’t muster up some belly laughs from those I know it’s time to go to the doctor.

I’m going to print out this list and post it on the refrigerator to give me reminders throughout the day. Hopefully I can stop this slide in its tracks.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

A Tale of Two Parenting Styles

Last week I spoke at a childbirth education class for parents expecting multiples. I was excited about it because I love to speak in front of a group and I felt I genuinely had something of value to share. The only guideline I was given was to talk about my experience being a mom of twins. I had no idea whether there was a time limit (in retrospect, I really wished I’d asked for guidance on that). I knew I would be sharing the time with another couple, who have 11-month-old fraternal twins.

I arrived just after the first couple did and my adrenaline started pumping right away. I LOVE this shit! I couldn’t wait to get started. The other couple went first. I was mortified the instant the woman opened her mouth. She seemed completely devoid of personality and spoke in a monotone. I noticed she had the book Babywise on her lap and felt my heart sink. She was going to tell these poor, unsuspecting parents how great their lives were after they let the babies scream for hours several nights in a row beginning at about 7 weeks of age. Babywise is in almost every way the exact opposite of the attachment parenting style I believe in. It advocates “parent directed feeding” (scheduled feeding), crying it out beginning at 6 weeks, forced playtime alone, and punitive discipline starting at 6 months of age (including corporal punishment and isolation). The whole thing makes me completely sick to my stomach.

I understand that not everyone has the same parenting philosophy I do and I try to be respectful of others’ choices, as I hope they are of mine. Some things cross a line even I can’t ignore though. Most of this couple’s talk was not about Babywise methods, although they did cite it specifically for sleep training. Still, their experience reflected the consequences of following this advice. For example, The mom said that her milk started to “dry up” and she was finished breastfeeding by three and a half months. She said she felt sort of conflicted about it but figured they’d gotten “all the good out of it they were going to get anyway.” Following a feeding schedule and refusing to feed at night beginning by only 8 weeks of age is a sure way to diminish your supply, and don’t even get me started on the advantages of breastfeeding through the first year.

I tried not to screw up my face while she was talking. I tried to sit calmly, knowing that I would soon be able to present a different view of parenting, but I could feel myself becoming wild with fear that these parents would go home excited about the prospect of wising up their babies.

I have an issue with obsessive-compulsive disorder and this is one of the areas in which I suffer. In my non-OCD moments I do realize that neither I nor this other couple is likely to sway someone so much to one side that it defines their parenting. Each parent must research parenting styles and do what they believe is best for their family. At that moment though, I suddenly felt an intense need to “save” my audience. The thoughts started swirling around my head so quickly and so forcefully that I don’t remember much of what the other couple said after the first ten minutes or so.

When my turn came I was practically jumping out of my skin with anticipation. I may even have begun babbling. There was so much I HAD to tell these parents-to-be! I was a tent revival evangelist and my flock needed salvation. I demonstrated both a front and back carry with the mei tai. I recited the Gospel of Breastfeeding. I extolled the virtues of natural childbirth and co-sleeping and cast out the demons of crying it out and scheduled feedings.

Truthfully, I did not assail them with attachment parenting doctrine, though I would have loved to. I did try to focus on life with twins from my attachment parenting point of view. I told them about redefining success in various areas, including childbirth and breastfeeding.

I told them that the hardest part about having twins, for me, is having one cry while I’m caring for the other and not being able to do anything about it. The Babywise mom must not have been paying close attention because she piped up with, “oh you’ll get used to it.” I replied that I didn’t think I ever could. She responded that it was harder for her husband than for her but that after a few nights they stopped crying. I was horrified. I started to stammer and tried to make it clear that I was most certainly not talking about crying it out, rather that I couldn’t always comfort both at once. I reiterated that I would NEVER get used to that.

After that I continued to go on and on and on about what items I couldn’t live without and so forth. The poor instructor kept giving me cues to let me know that my time was up but I was too caught up in my spiel to notice. Thinking back, I do remember her saying “Well thank you SO MUCH Jenny!” at least a couple of times.

I just felt so passionate about sharing my “wisdom” (bwahahahaha!) that I couldn’t stop! I wish I’d worked up something more resembling a speech so that I could cover the points in a logical order, keep from rambling and seem sane. I have a lot of trouble editing myself. That’s true in my everyday life as well as here on this blog. How do I learn to moderate myself? I feel like I’m going to pop like a cork out of a champagne bottle when I try to hold things in. I love to write, I love to speak to an audience, and I love to chat with people.

Are you like that? Have you learned to edit yourself? Share your wisdom with me!