The Week of Ugh

As far as weeks go, this one suuuuucked. Not only did it last for forever, the damn thing isn’t even over yet. It is the week that refuses to die. I’m not sure what brought it to this distinguished level of baditude, but what makes me feel so horrible about it is my inability to control my frustrations around the boys. They have seen me clench my fists while forcing deliberate and dense groans from the back of my throat. They have seen and heard me slam doors (in the very unsatisfying way that pocket doors “slam”), berate the dog at high volumes, yell, and walk away in several forms of huff. I have been set off by the dog eating granola bars and crackers right out of Ike’s hand as he raises them to his mouth for a bite. I have had absolutely enough of Connor’s aggressive obsession with everything that is Ike’s head. I’ve been worn thin by requests of “Just one more” and “Mommommommom” and “Not yet” from a 3-year old who may only be a quarter of my weight but who’s incessant pleas to be held are just as taxing on my patience as they are on my biceps.

But, probably more than any of that, I am worm out by the fact that this week the boys have probably seen more anger and frustration come from me than love. I remember being praised for holding my emotions in check when I was younger, and while I don’t glorify shutting emotions into a closet to fester and mold, I don’t often let my “more unseemly” feelings reach out and affect others. This week they did and the unfortunate victims were Connor and Blue Boy. Those emotions reached right out and lectured Connor up and down about practically everything. They shot down many of his requests to play, to be held, to be read one more story, to sit in my lap. They caused me to scold Blue about barking and eating Ike’s food and scratching at the door to be let out just so he could be the neighborhood pest – the dog barking into the silent night as people were turning off their lights and locking their doors for bedtime. They left me with no patience, no insight, not a moment of pause to think about what I was doing in that moment until it was over and I immediately felt bad about it.

And all week I’ve been collecting that guilt, packing it into a ball that I held in my pocket until it filled up that space and I needed to put it on a leash so we could keep track of each other. Tonight that ball of guilt is sitting in my lap, waiting to jump up and follow me to the kitchen for a snack or roll onto my pillow in preparation for bed so it will be the first thing I see in the morning. The thing about guilt though, especially when it’s on a leash, is that am the one who put it there. No one else tethered that guilt to me.  I did it all by myself, and keeping it there means that I’ve chosen each day to carrying it alongside me, to let that guilt grow and keep doing the jerky thing that guilt does best: make me feel guilty and bad about things that have already happened that I also need to unleash and set free.

So right now I am choosing to unleash the guilt – to stop walking it with me down the hall or to the kitchen or into bed. When I wake up tomorrow and open my eyes it may still be there because I’ve fed it and made it such a cozy home. But if I stop feeding it, it will realize that I’m not a good owner. Guilt isn’t meant to be owned but acts as a reminder, and once it’s done it’s job it should feel free walk out the door and get swept away with the breeze. This week I got caught up thinking that the guilt and I kept each other company and I built a cocoon around us that was nice and warm and full of self-disgust and frustration. But no butterflies came of it. And since I’ve gone as far as I care to with this metaphor, bye bye guilt. I already have a pet, haven’t you heard me yelling at him all week?

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Be Still

For someone who loathes routine, getting Ike on a schedule has become my white whale.  Every day I chart his feeding, sleeping, and play schedule, imagining myself getting hours closer to predictable days and a sense of control over the the unpredictable entity that is a newborn.  But then reality strikes and instead of getting Ike up to feed him on schedule I find myself creeping around the bedroom like a burglar, trying to steal a few precious minutes here and there before he sounds his siren call for his morning feeding.  I’m not going to say if today is going well or if the numerous other times I tried to put him on a schedule were successful. Maybe what Ike is trying to teach me is to let go, which is a hard-fought lesson for anyone trying to mentor me.  I commend your efforts, Ikesteroo.

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I still have much to learn, but I’m feeling more comfortable with the thought of taking care of two kids.  Note that I’m not actually saying that I’m competent enough to actually take care of two kids, but the thought of it doesn’t immediately drive me to tears.  That’s progress, right?  Starting tomorrow and until the end of the month Connor and Ike will be in my sole care during the work week.  I see a lot of Cars, Cars 2, Paw Patrol, and Chuggington in my future.  Other than that I also see a lot of diaper changes, harried pumping sessions, and disrupted naps in my future.  I’ve never climbed a mountain or hiked the Appalachian Trail, but I’m pretty sure that moms are formed from some of of the toughest stuff around.  Maybe some day I’ll be made of that stuff, too.

Right now, I’m made of soft, doughy flesh that has resisted all of my efforts to be mentally willed into discernible abs or not love handles.  I haven’t tried to get myself into a routine that has any self-serving purpose.  The biggest effort I’ve made towards getting back in shape is to drink and ultimately pour down the drain a bottle of kale/spinach/cucumber juice (honestly, how did that stuff ever make it to the grocery store shelf?!).  My linea negra is just as dark as it was during pregnancy as are the spots under my arms.  I am still sporting my maternity jeans along with whichever nursing bra smells less like stale breast milk.  I make an effort to put on makeup and change out of my pjs every day so I don’t feel like a gigantic slouch, but my afternoon hours have become less and less productive. I feel mildly guilty about not scrubbing down the countertops and folding all the stray clothes, but there will be plenty of time for all of that fun stuff.  What I enjoy the most about my days are these moments, when Ike is sleeping soundly on the couch while I try to form complete thoughts and make sense of life today.  At this moment I’m not afraid of Ike waking up because I can take care of him.  I’m not anxious about what to make for dinner or if I’ll have enough time to cook.  In this moment I am still.