Sunday, October 29, 2006

10/29/06 Mom reflects on life

Last night gets a 6 out of 10. Katrina woke up a lot, but pretty much went back to sleep after each wakeup and nursing, though a few times I had to jiggle her in my arms for a while. Then I fell asleep sitting up holding her, and got two separate hours of sleep that way, which is never really restorative sleep. Still, that's a far sight better than pacing her around for hours.

I still can't believe it when other people talk about how exhausting a baby is, waking you up every three hours at night -- and they're talking about babies that go right back to sleep! I'd be thrilled with that "problem!"

Today I took the boys (and girl) to another Halloween party, a nice small one due to space limitations in the house, but wonderfully decorated and thought-out. I love these events, and love hanging around with other moms and watching the kids play...but on the drive there, I saw a couple of motorcyclists on sportbikes, full leathers, cruising with one hand on hip, in that "ah I had my ride, now I'm just hangin'" sort of way I remember so well, and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I am so far removed from that life, one I loved and thrived in. It set me off.

Now it seems my life is void of joy. I'm constantly on edge, always feeling strained and stressed, unable to concentrate, and unable to find comfort in the small rewards that make full-time mom life fun.

What fun? I have a fussy baby who at any moment can derail my day with hours of crying. My patience with my backtalking shrieking boys is nil, and all I say to my resigned husband is barking an order here or there. I'm supposed to cherish every moment, since it all "goes so fast." I'm supposed to adore my children, be awash in warmth and gratitude for my idyllic life. I hit the jackpot after all, three healthy vibrant children, a loyal reliable husband who I love, a nice big house, basic financial soundness...all we're missing is the picket fence.

Even the girl thing stresses me out, irrationally. I sort of wanted a girl the second time around, but now I feel like it will split up the family. Silly, and premature, I know. And of course, I have what I have, and there are so many wonderful things about having a girl, though for me that will come later. Much of what people say excitedly about having a girl relates to things that have never meant much to me (clothes, cute things). It almost seems a waste for a computer-hacking motorcycle-riding wannabe-carpenter mom to have a beautiful baby girl. So far, all I have is a fussy crying unhappy baby.

Then there's the guilt. Guilt for not being overjoyed with my perfect life. Guilt for being annoyed at the boys all the time. Guilt for not completely loving my baby at all times. Guilt for dreading hearing her wake up. She's just a 3-week old little creature with a troublesome gastric tract, poor thing, none of this is her fault.

Rationally I know how to cope with this -- I should, since at 43 I have plenty of experience pulling myself out of dark moods. I know this baby phase won't last forever. I know that the pain from the surgery incision will go away eventually (a constant mood-drainer). I know that a regular exercise routine is essential to mood stabilization for me. I know I'll get regular, predictable sleep again, someday. I know that I'll have wonderful, warm happy moments with Katrina, and all the kids together. I know that someday, I'll ride again.

Meantime, today at the party, I talked to another mom of three (girls), whose youngest was 10 months old. And she related to and confirmed every negative emotion I've been feeling. She assured me it does get easier as the third gets older, that joy does creep back in, that guilt dissipates and that you do start to feel like yourself again. That helped so much, I felt so much better. When you're overwhelmed like this, the first thing you lose is perspective, and having some injected from someone who's just stepped out of the cloud is a huge help.

And so I'll take photos of everyone appearing to have a great time, and later I'll forget that at the moment, I was tense and in some or other form of pain. It helps a lot to be in a good, happy situation, surrounded by genuinely happy people. It rubs off. I am very lucky to have so many wonderful friends.

Gabriel and Julian had a grand time at the party today. A battery-powered tractor -- with trailer! -- was a real score for Gabriel (and he was actually OK about getting off it for other kids' turns, at least that I saw).

Julian liked a little razor scooter and even sort of was able to ride it, to my surprise.

But the real fun came from a play well. First, it was about pumping water.

Then somehow it devolved into throwing water at each other, until all the boys involved were completely soaked. Somehow Gabriel and Julian managed to be the most soaked, Julian especially (apparently he got a pumpkinful of water dumped over his head by his older brother). We had to borrow clothes just to get home!

There was plenty to see and do at this beautifully decorated and entertaining party, though Katrina mercifully slept through most of it, and mostly looked around when she was awake.

Actually, she's been asleep pretty much since we got home, minus wakeup time for feeding. I'm grateful to have a break from WAH-WAH-WAH, but dreading it coming in the middle of the night again.

Tomorrow starts a new week: the boys will be home every afternoon! But, Bonne Maman is coming Wednesday night, so it still won't be a completely normal week. I'm determined to stick out November and December with all three all afternoons, then ramp up childcare again in January if I'm really struggling. But Katrina will be older by then, and hopefully she will find awake life a little more fulfilling. And hopefully I will too.


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