A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: internal conflict

Life as Pictures…when the day gives you beaches

Little Man has been five for a couple of months now. I’d had visions that he would take part in some kind of summer day camp and learn to swim in such a program. But, alas, he is not potty trained…a permanent life motto should be Plan “E” is the new “A.” A friend recommended this lake beach to me last year, but I was too anxious to consider it at the time. It’s a good deal for both the pass and lessons, and she raved about the cleanliness and general positive environment. But, I don’t like outside. I especially don’t like beaches, and I extra specially don’t like new routines. Combine them together, and it didn’t happen. I don’t think I even had a good excuse for it. But, that hasn’t stopped my Mom Guilt from overtaking me. Kids love a beach, so this year I pulled up my big girl pants and registered for their two weeks of daily lessons and the summer beach pass.

But, the process had been dragging out after I made the decision, and just wanted to be done with arranging it…but the town was taking their sweet time, which gave me the opportunity to ruminate further on something that was inherently making me exceptionally anxious. Even when we were registered and things were purchased, I was anxious with anticipation. I never made a dry run prior. I had no idea where I was going. I had no idea of the set-up. I didn’t really know what I needed. And, I still don’t like to be outside. And, there was also this vague thought nagging me that this was a waste of money and too good to be true…Surely I need to mortgage our house or utilize our children’s college fund to have my son learn to swim in one of these custom kid swimming places that require me to (gasp) wear a swimsuit and wade into the pee pool!

The morning started out efficient. I even decided to not exercise in the morning to ensure I didn’t have any weirdness with my timing. I usually don’t, but I didn’t want to pressure myself with my schedule of exercising throughout the day…requiring even more showers for a mommy with terribly sensitive skin, and an unpredictable nap with the kids. Keep it simple was what I was going with, and first thing in the morning that deceptively worked…until the directions my husband gave me took us to the same lake as where we needed to go, but the actual beach for the next town over.

I ended up at the first beach ten minutes early. After a tremendously long and steep schlep up a hill, it was lovely. The kids having a ball, and I prided myself in getting there despite the entire town under construction. But, time ticked, and no one was there. I started to worry. And, then I looked out over the water, and saw a second beach that suddenly was populated. I hurried to my bag to realize that we were now fifteen minutes late for the lesson that was occurring at another beach.

I swear. I hustle the kids. They were understanding and accommodating as Little Man narrated the events of my fuck up…something he does best, which is endearing until it’s on a loop for thirty minutes. They are soaked and confused. I’m bullshit, and screaming at my husband because I tried to get to the other beach, but couldn’t find it. Mind you, I’ve only been in this state with my husband once before…It was a blizzard when we were newly sort of living together. I was heading out to join him for his work party. My car in his garage, but the snow was piled on the driveway before the condo plow people had an opportunity to remove the snow. My now husband, then boyfriend had not seen the state of his drive, told me to, “just punch it,” which I did, and subsequently was stuck with only half my car out of the garage. In dress pants and a waning blizzard, I dug out my car. It’s funny now…a little over fifteen years later.

So, now my anxiety, that had been mellowing, was spilling out of every conceivable pore without relief, but he got us there. Fortunately the same age group had another class for Little Man later…not that I wanted to be at the beach so long, but that’s what a Plan E is all about.

As I do with almost all things that make me anxious, I plan a menu of some sort. What better beach fair exists than pasta salad? Actually, I have no idea. I hate the beach, and can’t remember the last time I went, except it was pre-kids and I was probably disgruntled about it as I spend days ridding myself of sand from my unmentionables. I’m generally proud of my pasta salads, but must say that this one was probably among my best…pretty good when my strategy was to buy whatever shit that seems like it vaguely fit with the hope that this beast would last the week. It turns out that I’m not the only one impressed. Little Man enjoyed it so much that he asks for another helping about every ten minutes. Aside from the green beans, he eats most everything in it. That surprised me as he’s never been a pepper or cucumber fan. He didn’t quite clean his container, but it came close. I’m not sure how he selected which items he would leave for me, as he didn’t completely refuse to eat any one item entirely. That said, I prefer this mystery to some of the others my kids gift me.

It’s remarkable how much I’ve grown in the past five years. As much stuff as I hauled for this first trip to the beach, it’s probably half the amount I used to when Little Man was a baby. Another notable difference is that I mostly used everything. It was such a chaotic beginning to the day that yielded us staying much longer than I’d planned…and realizing upon arrival that I didn’t have everything required to keep me comfortable and avoiding a rash from too much sun exposure…I didn’t change the kids before heading home. They both mostly sat half-naked in their car seats because I was done and needed a nap by the end. But, shout-out to the other moms who had their shit together, and my friend who allowed Warrior Queen to pilfer her entire snack collection. I seriously don’t know where she puts all the food she eats.

Warrior Queen enjoyed her digging, but I can’t say that there are any non parent delights with her process. The above picture was her when there was no toy phone or Hello Kitty ice cream to consume her attention. Mr. Man, however, spent two days diligent at work. The first, pictured above, he built a “beaver dam” he excitedly used to experiment with water flow. Day two it was lava, which is not a surprising story-line for him these days. Among other obsessions, I find myself learning ALL about volcanoes and lava…earthquakes…environmental catastrophes associated with climate change and global warming. This is in addition to his human body fixations, and all possible ailments one might encounter…like cancer. Believe it or not, but I very quickly reach my limit agreeably discussing all the ways in which one might develop and die from various cancers. Sometimes these two interest areas intersect…like this morning when environmental destruction led to dying from skin cancer…in case anyone were interested in inviting us over for a party.

I was playing around with trying to appear artistic while also wanting to guarantee I had images to document this day for my blog. But, in addition to noting that I’m mostly well hydrated and in a constant state of needing to pee, I want to take this moment in self-admiration for managing to find a pair of sandals for Little Man without diving too profoundly into our ice-cream truck fund. Kid shoe shopping is a process that really should be reserved for its own circle of hell…if I believed in such a place. But, frankly, I rank finding both kids shoes between stubbing my toe and bra shopping. It was terrible, but while I still need to get Warrior Queen something better than the shoes pictured…preferably something that doesn’t leave her feet grotesquely black and impossible to clean, I managed a pretty decent pair for Little Man…I’m waiting for these bastards to disintegrate when they hit the water. So far their maiden voyage had them sitting in the sun. The second day equal use. But, while I need to try to locate a spare set for him, and two for Warrior Queen, I can’t stomach it at the moment.
This fella…or fell-ette decided to join me today on this second beach day that whispered rainstorms to come. At first I was a little freaked…do butterflies bite or anything with their tube eating things? But, life is all about risks, right? And, this risk ended up as a total diva…chillaxing on my pastyness for all the surrounding kids to gawk. It flew away shortly after they became bored and returned to their digging and general festivities. I guess I can’t please everyone all of the time, but not gonna lie…a butterfly confusing me with something flower-like is not a bad way to spend a morning.

Immortalized Nostalgia…and a couple of asshats

I began this blog when my son was almost a year old. As his first birthday approached I penned a post about my delivery. The entirety of my daughter’s existence is within the confines of this site, but there is one particular event I’ve decided to make a permanent fixture within my documented parenting history. It wasn’t hastening a departure from my mind regardless.

I’ve spent so much time working with destructive populations that I’m desensitized from horrific events and stories in profound ways. My threshold for the disturbing is quite high, yet I can no longer stomach the horror movies I used to love…go figure. I’m told this situation is horrible and terrifying. I don’t remember it as such, but I recall it as odd and stupid.

I had difficulty conceiving our second, but nothing major in the grand scheme of things. I’m geriatric by conception standards…my husband more so. Consequently, over the course of seven months I lost four pregnancies in a row very early on. It was gut wrenching at the time, but now having my little girl, the process lost its sting. From time to time I compare sibling age gaps in other families, but mostly the impulse flows over me with little consequence.

My husband and I attended our first session with a fertility doctor when I happened to just be pregnant with Warrior Queen. It was in the five week neighborhood, and I felt this time was different, but I was terribly afraid to embrace those thoughts. A couple days before the weekend my blood was drawn for a whole slew of genetic collections, as well as a pregnancy test. I can’t recall exactly how often I checked my online status, but I learned every result within twenty-four hours, except the pregnancy one…They forgot to submit it. Sunday rolled around, and the suspense was eating away at me. Some time during the solitude of a two hour return drive from a family event, I decided to buy a home pregnancy test.

It isn’t all that often I have time to myself. My husband is wonderful, so most weeks I’ll have part of a day to gallivant by my lonesome, but even including these hours, I am infrequently unencumbered by small children. I was anxious to purchase the pee stick, but not so anxious to rush the drive. Plus, I was thoroughly enjoying a Moth story on NPR. I can no longer remember anything specific about it, but I remember it as funny. It’s always when things are most enjoyable that traffic signals are green.

Exiting the highway I expected to stop. I remember feeling disappointed it was a delayed green left arrow. I followed the car in front of me barely needing to slow for the turn. A quarter of a mile down the road…through a rotary, I pull into a local drug store lot to purchase whatever store brand pregnancy test I could find. I listened to the remaining couple minutes of the story, and exited my car in my own focused world.

It was summer, still quite light outside even as the day was ending. I did not expect a mammoth black truck stopped right behind my car, blocking a possible escape. Two men sitting in said truck waiting for me to look up, windows down.

I can’t remember the exact dialogue, and, really, it was frustratingly circular, so the specifics aren’t important. I don’t know where they came from, but they were convinced the person in the car in front of me and I ran a red light. They chose to follow my car to reprimand me. What transpired I immediately recognized as intimidation, even if this type of interaction style wasn’t a formal plan by the two men. I note this because the efficacy of intimidation preys on emotional wherewithal on the recipient…or lack thereof. More specifically, identifying intimidation intellectually as it is occurring breaks the emotional power it holds, and allows one to think clearly, even if one is stuck in the situation. These interactions are quite scary the first few times one experiences them…they are meant to be, but situations of this nature are somewhat old hat for me working with a criminal or generally sketchy element of society. I can’t identify why exactly, but I did not perceive a threat beyond what was occurring. I did, however, recognize they were hoping for me to flood with guilt, start crying, and beg their forgiveness…an emotional, frazzled, and scared response. If I were a man, this event wouldn’t have happened, and that irked me even as I was experiencing the interaction.

Neither man accepted that they were wrong with their assumption; that it was, in fact, a green light no matter how much I asserted the reality of the matter. I remember one aspect of the conversation that continues to strike me as amusing. The driver of the truck informed me that me arguing with them was telling. I can’t remember the word he used. I don’t know if I fully heard it at the time. As he became increasingly frustrated with me, his sentences became incomplete. The descriptor of me that he garbled was the first of his deteriorating dialogue, and I remember it took every ounce of willpower not to counter him with something to the effect of, “You followed a random person a quarter mile down the road because you thought you saw a traffic violation, and I’m the one traveling to crazy town?” Alas, I said nothing of the sort…but really wanted to. Seriously, these assholes were keeping me from buying my pregnancy test!

There were a couple more back and forths in this power struggle that would continue for much longer in the same vein as its own inertia. I was starting to lose my cool, so shut down the exchange, “I get that you get off intimidating women, but it was a green light.” It’s been my experience that those using intimidation without physical violence forethought often do so under a veil of self righteousness. Often framing the interaction as a negative against the individual forces their retreat…or sudden end to whatever interaction is transpiring. But, I say this as someone who works off of an experienced gut, and I wouldn’t hand off my approach as a recommendation for others. As soon as my comment left my lips, the driver yelled back through gritted teeth, “I don’t,” and sped off rambling that he hopes I get caught next time. I commented within the earshot of the couple staring at our exchange a couple cars away, “Sorry to disappoint, but they don’t offer commendations for obeying simple traffic laws.” I muttered some type of colorful adjectives as I walked into the store reeling.

I called my husband to tell him what happened, and I was cautious leaving the store. I didn’t think the men circled back, but one never knows.

Within the hour my pregnancy was confirmed.

The Not So Sham of SHAMing

Before the idea of having children of my own, I remember repeating the very line that so many utter: Remaining home to rear children is the most difficult employment commitment one can choose.  While this is true, I guess, there is so much about it that escapes all of the nods I participated in.

To answer the question of what I must do all day; sometimes I don’t know, yet the day ends and somehow my children are sleeping. I suppose that’s the point; our days can be filled with anything, and it is entirely on my shoulders to consider. And, really, when declaring the difficulty of the SHAMing pursuit, it isn’t so much the schedule or the explicit childcare needs, but the complete ambiguity of my existence.

Having two small children in tow throughout every day without a break, regardless of any ailment that might consume me, can be grueling. It can be even more so knowing that my child care duties often continue into the evening despite a very involved, supportive, and helpful husband; but so long has this been my life that my former freedoms no longer whisper their truths. In the beginning the tasks were a sudden torrent of immediacy, but the winds died sooner than I expected, and the isolation and loneliness remained.

As elated to have my son with me, I wasn’t prepared for the lack of human contact and complete blank slate my life became so suddenly. On the one hand I loved my time with Little Man; on the other the vacancy of an outside world carried an oppressive weight, but I was too sleep deprived to consider how to remedy my situation. Fortune smiled on me, and I did not succumb to postpartum mental health issues, but I didn’t quite escape a rut of who I was now that my individual importance diminished caring for an infant.

The intensity of my struggles with the transition is likely due to how very sure of my identity I was prior to Little Man’s appearance. Forced to forego my previous career as I knew it pushed me to reinvent myself when I was so very enamored with who I had been. But, aside from recognizing my shift in identity, I had no notion of what a reinvention should look like. My choices seeming vast, much like each day before me.

But, I managed, and by the time my son was eighteen-months-old with a daughter on the way, I entered an inroad for some notion of my new identity. My toddler almost two-and-a-half years old, I almost don’t recognize the woman returning my gaze in the mirror. She is stronger, more empathic, more content and joyful, and astoundingly more ambitious. So trite that my life isn’t about me anymore. It isn’t solely about my children either, as society assumes to be the case. My vantage point is more panoramic. My thoughts drift to my legacy and the path for the humans I birthed who will inhabit the sands I leave behind. With all of my human service involvement it took having my children to understand both notions of humanity and servitude, and with that understanding I found who I am meant to be, even if my story is only a prologue as I write this.

But, as gratifying as my process feels much of the time, I am unable to shirk awkward conversations among strangers and mixed company. When asked, how do I explain my conventionally unconventional occupation? My halted and insecure acknowledgment of remaining home often met with an immediate and ungraceful termination of conversation.

Image result for uncomfortable confused face

(“So, you say you do nothing productive with your time?”)

I often feel a compulsion to explain the choice to stay at home or describe the other pieces of my existence: the writing, the volunteering, the consulting. But, it all seems so complicated and unofficial that tending to my children full-time is my default answer.

Like many of the SHAMming mothers I speak with, my most withering challenges aren’t the concrete trials of caring for my children, but rather the all consuming uncertainty of my daily rigmarole. What does it mean to rear a good person, yet tend to my self-preserving needs, all the while in the throws of life interfering?

It is finally an honest answer that I wouldn’t trade any piece of my choice to stay home. I love it. I love the time. I love the experiences. I love who I am because of this choice, even when it isn’t quite so lovely.

Having it All, When You Don’t Have it All

I never wanted to get married. According to my philosophy college major self, the institution is outdated and a mere social construct. Marriage is oppressive, and I wanted to be free. I loved dating, and meeting new and like minded pretentious people. Then I graduated and suddenly found myself thrust into the adult social pool. I hated dating with such a vehement passion, having scores of stories to show for it. Only now are they funny. I suppose for some the institution is nothing more than the very outdated social construct I presumed all those years ago, but I met my perfect partner in crime. Our shared life is filled with humor above all things, and it carries us through our dichotomous trying times.

Our relationship spans just shy of fifteen years. We found each other when I was lost, struggling through things common for those floundering through their twenties, as well as encountering challenges mostly whispered by friends of friends. While I don’t believe another person can save me, my husband is my trite but true boulder. When we joined paths, I stabilized and dared to become a person.

Over the years I found my ambition, our union giving me the strength to take risks I never imagined awaited me. I’m proud of my professional accomplishments, but the decision to have children was always something so far away…until it wasn’t.

I was unexpectedly out of work just before becoming pregnant with Little Man. The plan was to work part-time, but plans are designed to be unfulfilled. My current path unfathomably different.

I read other mommy blogs and assorted online published pieces. Sometimes the thread of having it all described; its impossibility mostly. Two years and four months after my son joined our outside world and the addition of a rapidly growing sprite; I can finally say that I managed the SAHM purple unicorn.

Pre Little Man I craved the ambition of power and authority as a symbol of my success. My ambition changed raising my children, but surprisingly the same desire continues to burn indigo within me, maybe even stronger and more focused. However, to have my all I’ve had to consider what it entails beyond the superficial employment ranking. I have sponges absorbing their ocean now. I have precious little time for myself, squirreling my opportunity nuts when I have a thirty minute feast. Some days I rely on my surprising efficiency to accomplish some small task in an impossibly scant amount of uninterrupted free time.

Staying at home I see the world through separate eyes, and while I don’t want my identity to be solely with regard to others, I can’t escape their impact on they way I envision my unique identity. My all is about nurturing my ambition. Rank doesn’t hold the same promise of importance anymore. I concern myself with impact over position. After seemingly endless false starts, I found the avenues for the good work and impact I need to feel fulfilled. I can leave my small mark on humanity with the little time I have for myself. The best piece of having this all is that I see endless possibility with the opportunities I managed to discover, and maybe for the first time excited about the journey over the destination.


The Terrible Awful in Me, and Otherwise

I’m a terrible person; harsh, unforgiving, and cruel.  With gusto I will kick and stomp when someone is down, and award myself with notions of strength after I’ve accomplished just such a feat.  That someone is me.

I’m on the tail end of a fairly nasty nose cold.  I catch roughly a quarter of the plagues that befall my home, but when I am part of the befallen, it’s usually some degree of a doozy.  I don’t usually whine about being sick, so if I’m actually articulating misery with this type of thing, safe to say it’s probably pretty bad.

The first couple days of my cold were quite mild, so I deceived myself that I would be annoyed for a week, but my life would proceed as planned.  Maybe I would be grumpier than usual, but since Warrior Queen was also sick and waking up a bit at night, I probably wouldn’t receive too much blame for an edge in my cadence.  But, my colds are never mild.  I continued to tell myself I was experiencing a hint of sick even when a truck hit me in the early evening, leaving my eyes leaking tears from exhaustion, a blocked and vaguely pained ear, nausea, and headache.  My son woke from his nap, and I had not prepared dinner.  I stood at our kitchen counter frozen with slumped shoulders, unable to drape fish in a tray so the oven could do all the heavy lifting.  A rational person would say, “Man, I’m seriously sick.  Maybe I should sit.”  If a friend described the very scenario I was experiencing, I would tell them to sit and let their toddler burn down the house.  Hell, if the woman I encountered weeks ago or the person parked next to me at the mall described these events, I’d tell them to sit and grab a beverage…maybe some chocolate.

I berated myself for having to feed my son a serving of our plentiful leftovers.  He told me the lentil dish I served him was, “Delicious,” before eating two helpings, by the way, so why was it necessary to mommy guilt myself that the cod would remain in the refrigerator one more day?  I feel pretty confident the dead fish wouldn’t be insulted, and I was too sick to taste anything anyway.  My son clearly didn’t care, and my husband is always happy that he didn’t have to cook.

I’m proud to say much of the time I accept I’m not perfect…at anything.  Most days I even broadcast such news and events to anyone within close proximity.  The result is a shared laugh because so many of the trials of parenthood are strangely and wonderfully universal.  Having children allows me to welcome my imperfections, and laugh at the ride.  I don’t take myself quite so seriously anymore, but this critical piece of me continues to exist, taking full advantage when I am at my weakest.  And, she joins forces with my malleable and expansive imagination that possesses no loyalty either way.

After a grueling forty-eight hours of wakefulness, I managed a good night’s sleep.  Feeling significantly better and reasonably well rested, my equilibrium is returning.  I can laugh at myself again and reflect on my unreasonable chastise of my parenting performance and scrutiny over my general life tenacity.  What did I learn?  My children and I are at our best when I consider myself as worthy of kindness, attention, and nurturing…and chocolate has magical properties that can never be dismissed or minimized…

Good Fun that is Funny…

It’s been three months with my daughter around.  I arrived at homeostasis, which translates that most days I don’t want to crawl into a hole from exhaustion, rather crawl into the same hole with a bag of chocolate hoping no one can find me.  Hyperbole aside, things are fine, even good, and I say that with a cold that my daughter and I share.

There are certain aspects to this new normal I concluded.  Pacifiers and mobiles are the ultimate peacekeeper, as well as shoddy forts.  I drape a blanket over his small table and two chairs, and my a-little-over-two-year-old son behaves as though I’ve erected the Taj Mahal, allowing me enough time to feed Warrior Queen.  I learned there is no conceivable way to manage two children so young in public without wearing one of them.  I also have come to understand that toddlers have a sense of humor that is mostly not funny, and involves stains or disinfectant in most instances.  But, the most prevalent aspect when reflecting on my new normal is the precarious Cat in the Hat style balancing game. 

(I long to be this cat…)

(Usually, I’m this one hoping to land in a kiddie pool of dark chocolate…with nuts.)

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that my current balanced life consists of at least one of the three of us unhappy at all times…with a generous coating of mom guilt.

I manage to complete one priority a day, praising my superior executive functioning capability once I finish.  If I am exceptionally lucky and the Earth tilts off its axis, two or three priorities can be accomplished.  Incidentally, bills and house cleaning don’t come close to making the list.  I clear maybe twenty minutes of true, uninterrupted time to myself during a typical weekday, and Mr. Clean can go screw with his friends Clorox and Pine Sol.

It’s hard to accept that I can’t do EVERYTHING, even if I had some notion of the full expanse of what everything entails.  I don’t like that someone is unhappy at all times.  I don’t like that often that someone is me.  I have to say, however, that I almost combust with love during unexpected, yet surprisingly frequent moments.  One of the most recent happened when retrieving my son from his quiet time this past week; I was dreading this rare occasion when he is inconsolably upset, awakening suddenly and wailing.  This particular disposition usually amounts to a couple of hours of frazzled caretaking that I pray my daughter sleeps through, though she never does.  But, on this occasion my son through sobbing gasps wanted me to tend to his unraveling sister first.  Her well being was more important to my little man than his need for Mommy cuddles and snuggles.  There are so many moments when I worry because my two seem to be perpetually waiting, and I feel all the more guilty when they wait as I attend to one of my needs…like eating…or using the restroom…or maybe something more frivolous still.  However, when I am witness to evidence that my son’s world is that we are all in this together, maybe, just maybe it will be okay after all.

A Stranger is Home

Even as a two-year-old, My son is exceptional when it comes to sharing.  He takes turns with ease, and is generally considerate of other people.  He certainly has his moments, but mostly he acknowledges the needs of other people.

Little Man did not visit me in the hospital, and I missed him profoundly.  Hearing him uttering his “Yeah” to my questions on the phone the night before returning home had me virtually weeping with a surging and longing heart…but that may have been the hormones.

I finally walk into our home, my husband carrying our tiny fierce one.  My son looked at her a bit and walked off…quite anticlimactic.  But, I know Mr. Man.  He needs time to be left alone and consider things, so my husband and I allowed him his space regarding our new family member even if my parents did not.

The first evening was rough for my little man.  It didn’t appear that he was particularly unhappy having a sister or unwilling to share me.  While I held my fierce girl, I interacted with my first born, and he was content.  There were no tantrums when I asserted that I needed to stop a book or game to feed the Warrior Queen.

But, during dinner I saw a flood of emotions emanate suddenly from his sweet, beautiful, tortured face.  The entire day I focused on my son, giving him all the attention I was craving over the few days in the hospital.  The sudden acute distress puzzled me.  My son barrels off of his chair and runs weeping into our family room.  I follow him and sit on the floor unsure of what he needs.  He finally manages to sign “music,” and I ask if he would like me to sing a certain song.  Calming he asserts, “Yeah,” and sits between my legs.  My poor uncertain boy wanted me to sing the same tune I uttered to his sister during her last bottle two hours prior.  Once I finished, he trotted off to rejoin my husband and parents at the kitchen table, smiles abound.

After that instance and through the next day or so, it became increasingly clearer that my son is willing to share me, but required the reassurance that there continues to be a unique place for him in my thoughts and heart.  Little by little I’m providing him security that he, in turn, expresses with interest toward his sister.

It started with my daughter sleeping in her swing.  My son plucks a baby blanket off our sofa, and places it over her, walking away to play.

The next day my son was the first to rise.  He finished his breakfast but remained at the table when I heard the Warrior Queen stirring upstairs.  I excused myself, telling Little Man that I would be back with his sister.  While I was upstairs, he ventured over to the gate, waiting for us to make our entrance.  He pointed and smiled, following us as I grabbed a bottle out of the refrigerator.  Mr. Man clutched his milk cup, and joined his sister for her breakfast, handing me a cloth to wipe her mouth when I requested it.

Each day there is another effort of care he expresses toward his little sister.  He continues to keep her company drinking his milk while she enjoys her bottled meal.  He still lightly lays a blanket over her when he worries she is cold.  He continually checks on her in her swing, ensuring her well being.  If she isn’t wearing a hat, he will stand in front of her holding it waiting for me to walk over.  Little Man is afraid to hurt her, so even the lightest touch is something he avoids.  My son wants her to be happy, and enjoying pushes in a swing, is quick to do the same for his sister.  Redirected the first time for too strong a force, he is content with light, gentle nudges.

Transitions have never been particularly easy for him; probably a trait inherited from me, but he is a wonderful big brother.  In time he will see it too.

What does quicksand feel like?

My primary hope writing this is coherence, as I usually wait some time to have semblance of bearings with difficult things.  But, how do I even talk about this when I’ve always been such a failure at person-to-person discussions regarding things that are troubling for me?  I’ve been trying the last week using likely the wrong supports most of the time, but they are around during the day when I either have time to think about or look at my beautiful boy knowing this experience is not the same on such an important level.

I retook my three-hour glucose test, which was an experience generally less heinous than the last; probably a consolation for the eventual news that I’m still diabetic, but at least my values make sense.  They are different values this time.  For simplicity it is easier to name them, and I apologize for the air of droning such description entails.  This second round my fasting blood sugar lower, 76, but considering the last test had me at 80, I’m still a rock star on that front.  Whereas my first test had my first hour draw within range, yesterday’s was 207…well above anything remotely desirable (I think the maximum level allowed is 180).  My first test had my second hour draw nine above the range, but dropping as it is supposed to.  Yesterday’s rose to 217.  For my final draw three hours after chugging the drink that somehow missed its place in the history of noteworthy culinary excellence spiked to 180 when it should have been close to fasting levels.  That was the rub that had me retake the test; apparently with a fasting level of 80, such a spike is not possible.  Yesterday’s third draw level dropped off a cliff to 86.  The range would have respected a 140 level.  My dad said it’s strange to drop like that, but it sounds like it’s nothing that indicates a problem with the test.  Other than knowing there is a problem, I couldn’t describe much else.

The referral from my Ob-Gyn’s office is in transit as we speak.  I was told to call later this afternoon to make an appointment with the diabetes clinic.  So, there it is.

I can’t stop myself from crying about this whole situation; it’s been like this for a week now.  I’m not even sure why that is, but I’ve had plenty of people telling me not to worry about it because it will be fine (translation: You’re behaving like an overly emotional child.) or it’s for the health of the baby…maybe I’ll be added as a footnote (translation:  You’re behaving selfishly about your objection to experiencing this entire process.).  The thing is, I know all of this, and I can’t tell anyone why I’m so upset.  Yes, the prospect of stabbing myself with a needle seven times a day to check my blood sugar (I asked my endocrinologist to look at my blood work in the system, even though she will not be involved in the treatment.) leaves me nauseated with anxiety.  Apparently, it really isn’t a big deal as EVERY FUCKING PERSON begins to describe in great detail the specifics of the sugar checking experience and how minor this entire situation is.

My endocrinologist thinks I may very well need insulin; who knows…It isn’t like I have a handle on anything anyway.  Let’s just add to the situation because more is really moot at this point.  It’s just a flood of what the rest of this pregnancy will be like until I actually start the process.  I suppose I should feel sick by how dire my second opinion was regarding my results; honestly, I’m not.  I told my dad; he doesn’t understand her assessment, saying no one has a blood sugar result under 120 one hour after eating.  When you look at the test range, the lab agrees.  My gut tells me she wasn’t careful looking at my results for something she didn’t order and doesn’t routinely do; not the first time I’ve had this problem with her, but appreciate her willingness to help.  It was worth a try for some clarity before my first appointment with the clinic.  The desperation for a foothold I’ve been feeling for a week borders pathetic.  Maybe what bothers me so much is that I was too eager to reach out for something I knew would likely be unhelpful, but wanted so very much to believe that  maybe someone in this moment could give me a structure to clutch as I feel myself sink.

Yet, when I read her message, the floodgates opened, and I can’t control the weeping.  Why is that?  I’m not worse or better off than I have been.  Nothing is relieving this horrible pit feeling.  It’s just more waiting until the process begins.

I don’t know why this is so difficult.  I suppose I should have some deep Mommy dramatic crusade that I worry for the life of my daughter, but I don’t.  She’ll be fine, and behaving like a pain in the ass around our house in no time.  I’ll have to make whatever lifestyle changes this process requires; fine.  I can’t imagine it will be anything so dramatic that I’ll look like the lost tribe that managed to find civilization centuries later.  Okay, I have to do something about my chocolate intake; I’m sure I can figure something out as an alternative.  I’ve already cut it back almost entirely once I found out I had a problem with my glucose levels.  Sure, I don’t know what the specifics of my diet will be, but I’m fairly certain virtually freebasing anything from the cacao plant is out.  I’ve mentioned the needle thing; whatever, I’ll deal.  It likely won’t be the most painful or unpleasant experience of my life even if you disregard the blessing of vaginal childbirth.  I can’t imagine I’ll need insulin.  I haven’t found much online that is helpful, but the few message boards I’ve perused described women with more significant glucose issues who were managed with diet.  I have a friend having her second round of pretty severe and hard to control gestational diabetes; she didn’t need insulin.  I’ll get a handle on the appointments and classes and whatever else I have to schlep a toddler to who will undoubtedly save his best tantrums for such occasions…Do they make baby Valium?  Maybe I should take my own and let him do his thing…He’s cute; they’ll deal…

So, why am I an absolute mess when I think too much about all of this?  What is my problem because it very much is my problem, which I am reminded fairly frequently when I start trying to talk about it?  I know the people who love me have the best intentions, and it’s hard to know what to say.  Maybe it’s loneliness.  Maybe it’s fear, but I don’t know what I’m afraid of.  Maybe as much as I know I didn’t cause this to happen with this pregnancy, didn’t I on some level?

My son knows Mommy has not been her best the past week.  He gives me pats on  my thigh and sweet looks when I’m staring off into space.  He cuddles me and pats his sister with his delicate, small hands.  The Warrior Queen, however, gives me a strong jab, “Suck it up and push through.”


Mommy, and the Meaning of Life

Motherhood brings about various ponderings.  Some seem randomly induced by minimal sleep, but other percolate throughout daily rituals. (I’ll call them rituals because it makes me feel better that I’ve managed some semblance of an organized structure for my toddler.).  Sometimes I like to consider my daydreams profound characterizations of my experience as a newish mom because then I feel like I have some minute trace of the thinker and problem solver I was before my son was born.  Of course, if I reflect on the happenings of my day, I am always the problem solver, but it feels so foreign that I don’t always recognize myself; not always a bad thing, but sometimes scary nonetheless.

More often than not when I have a moment to reflect, it’s what it means to be a mother, and what it means to be a woman.  Sometimes they are exasperated sighs as my son continues to wail at my feet, inconsolable unless held.  Sometimes cynical laughs as my husband has the luxury of completing chores around the house, opting out of childcare for the moment.  Recognizing that he isn’t wrong with his proclamation of their necessity, but acute awareness he is making a choice.

Reading nonfiction books about femininity and society among the glorious smut that captures my gender in its many facets, always seeming inaccurate and astute at the same time.  How is that even possible?  Horrifying historical context made even more terrifying that so little has changed.  Overt prisons of perception morphed into self imposed expectations, which seems more amorphous than the explicit messaging of earlier times, but maybe hindsight is 20/20.

I determined staying at home full-time equates to losing my identity, constructing a new one that potentially stores who I was in an attic box, only remembered in brief glimpses of the past.  As things progress and opportunities avail, I’m not sure having my pre offspring self emerge is welcome.

Sure, I am Mommy.  I am the beacon of comfort and kisses, of stories and smiles, of calm and consistency.  But, aside from my perpetual appendage for the last year, holding with him my intense love and his smiles that melt me every time they spread across his face, I must relearn the individual I was so certain of when it was easy to separate myself from others inhabiting the world.  I’m not sure how to do that, and I’m not sure where to start; understanding that the process started with our attempts to conceive.

But, alas, my musings must come to an end because the little person in my charge decided he is well rested.  He stands in his crib waiting for me to make my entrance from behind a closed door with a smile.  The humorous thing about all of my laborious perseverations on this topic is that my son already knows with great confidence the answer to all of my questions.  While his mouth cannot articulate it, he has explicit understanding of who I am, as his caretaker and as a human.

Introduction: The Competing Mommies in All of Us

I have been a mom for almost a year, which opened me to a world that feels hidden beneath the surface of every family with children. The first three months were isolating with intense bouts of loneliness mingled with fatigue, but that passed. I decided early on, before my son was born, that I would not be a stay-at-home mom, yet a year later that is exactly what I am. I came to two conclusions on this matter: 1) I truly enjoy spending time with him and 2) I’m not a strong enough person for the full-time, ongoing commitment.

Soon after I delivered I was offered an opportunity to be a private education consultant, which has been a slow start. The eventual prospect helps maintain a sometimes thinly veiled sanity, but on the positive end, I have a deep understanding of an aspect of society I was too afraid to face had I the option to avoid it.

Speaking to the so many other new moms and organizing a new mom social group, I learned the need to surround myself by things that make me happy as an individual, which is a surprisingly challenging concept raising an infant day in and day out. Thinking of writing a blog for a long time, as writing makes me happy, but procrastinating another avenue offering me peace of mind at times when I vacillate between feeling the need for baring a superhero emblem and hiding in a corner with the hope that Fear and his brother Incompetence do not have sufficient tracking skills to find me in the closet behind the shoes I’ve collected over the years, but can no longer wear after pregnancy.

So, it’s almost a year later, and in a moment of clarity I added to my short list of happiness and peace that is selfishly for me. I’ve become intermittently proficient at staying in the moment and enjoying the now, one of the many lessons I learned this year, along with: My son will only provide his fountain of youth on days when I managed to throw together a really cute ensemble right before heading out the door. I try not to live in the land of “wishes and should haves” because then I focus on, “Why haven’t I been documenting this life changing event all along?” I don’t want to focus on this regret because my journey is just beginning, so why catch-up when there are always new stories to tell?

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