Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Super Mom

Being a mother of two is a tough gig. (Stop the presses! Breaking news!) I continue to feel pulled in all directions. I love my toddler but he does not react well to being told to wait. To give me a minute. To share his time with his sister. Really, I don't know a lot of adults who do well with patience so it's not that surprising that he struggles. But, it's a rough transition for all of us. I have less sleep and less serenity than I would like. I don't respond very pleasantly to whining or temper tantrums when I am crabby (or well-rested, for that matter).

Part of me is starting to wonder if some of this stress is self-inflicted. Yesterday, I wrote about getting to sleep in but then having to rush like crazy to get the kids out the door so the tot could be on time for preschool. As I was speeding (yes, speeding! With my two children in the car!) it occurred to me that my husband had offered repeatedly to take Ben to school. That had I taken him up on the offer, I could have had more time at home to get ready for my doctor appointment, feed the baby one more time, and still have plenty of time to make it to preschool pick up. That I might have been able to do my hair AND my make-up instead of picking between the two. Heck, I might have even gotten a shower or been able to finish my coffee! 

I don't know why I feel "less than" if, heaven forbid, I allow my husband to take the kiddo to school once in awhile. It's as if my letting him take over the school drop off somehow signifies that I have failed for that day. That I have not met all of my "mom objectives". That I can't hack it and have dropped the ball where so many of my fellow moms are succeeding. I can't explain why or where that comes from. But today I realized that sometimes I need to take the help when it's offered. There are plenty of times when I am wishing I had help and it's not available. I need to be able to accept the assistance with gratitude instead of guilt. Getting help from my co-parent doesn't make me a slacker mom or a bad mom. In reality, if it keeps me from snapping at my two year old for whining, it might even make me a better mom. 

Balancing act

I am unfamiliar with downtime. As it is now, any time I have that both kids are napping or otherwise occupied - I am spending it asleep. I look around my house where things have become piled on every counter and table top, toys are scattered on the floor, miscellaneous baby paraphernalia is strewn around the room and there are dishes in the sink. Not to mention that the check book needs to be balanced and there are miscellaneous phone calls and appointments to be made. It's probably pointless to say that I have had no time to do any of the above due to my annoying need for sleep.

I have recently had this feeling like I am just spinning plates over my head. I'd like to try to accomplish any of the other many things that need to happen but it seems like if I try to get anything else done, I will drop or break one of the spinning plates. It seems like I have all I can handle and that I am just barely making it day to day with the kids being cared for, fed and (sometimes) dressed. Don't misunderstand, I am not complaining in the least. I think I am just surprised by how much of my time is taken up with just the day to day activities of nursing the baby, feeding the toddler, changing diapers, cleaning spit up, rocking, reading, napping, bathing, and bedtime routines. I feel like I can't possibly accomplish one thing outside of our basic needs. Which is probably why I am finding additional goals like Christmas shopping, potty training, baptism planning, and budgeting so daunting. And is also likely why so many things but the very bare necessities have fallen to the back burner.

Until now.

Last night, I was recounting all of this to my husband and saying that if I could just get enough sleep at night, I could get some of these other things done while the kids were asleep in the afternoon. (I did not include blogging in my list because I feel that should just be assumed). Imagine my surprise when the baby who seemed like she would never go to sleep went to sleep at 11pm and we all slept until my nursing wake up at 2:30 and then went back to sleep a little after 3:00 until 7:00am*. Almost seven and a half hours of sleep in total. Which is how I find myself in a somewhat cleaner living space, with a balanced check book, phone calls returned, and dishes put away. Admittedly there is still plenty that needs to be done, but I've accomplished enough to enjoy these few minutes of writing and relaxing. Because it's really just a matter of minutes before nap time is over and the plates start spinning again.

*I should also note that as restful and enjoyable as it is to sleep until 7am - on a Tuesday this also translates to "late for preschool" as it is a physical impossibility to get us all out the door in an hour and 15 minutes. Which led to a very hectic morning making this peace all the much more appreciated.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not enough hours

Try as I might, I can't seem to find the time to blog as much as I'd like. Our days are flying by in a whirlwind of nursing, napping, family visits and trying to get the every day things like showering accomplished.

But, I am blessed enough to wake up to this every morning:

And (with God's grace) to go to sleep looking at this every night:

I hope that soon I will be able to squeeze more than a few words in between those two events!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Month

One month ago today I became a mother of two. One month. A month of nursing aggravation, sleepless nights, house guests, sibling rivalries, parenting squabbles and aggravations. A month of baby coos, warm snuggles, big brother kisses, meals from friends, thoughtful cards and emails, singing, rocking and immeasurable joy.

It's the bitter sweetness of it all that I cannot ever quite explain. The struggle and frustration of feeling pulled in so many directions and never really fully meeting anyone's needs. The contentment of snuggling a warm soft baby against my chest. The pride at watching my son handing a toy to his crying sister in an effort to soothe her.  The peace of a quiet house when the stars (and naps) align and I can finally afford a few minutes to myself. The guilt because those few minutes really should be spent cleaning up the mess and catching up on "thank you" notes instead of blogging. The feeling of accomplishment at having made it through this first month without any major catastrophes. The sadness because this first month is already over and the days just keep flying faster and faster.

I am thankful for all of it.

Read more bigger picture moments and link up here!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sleeping when you can

When I was a first time mother, I was exhausted. All the time. I remember distinctly screaming at my newborn child one day because he refused to nap and cried every time I put him down and I was exhausted. I expected much worse the second time around. But so far (knock wood) it has been okay.

I think the reason for this is because I have become what I like to think of as a sleep scavenger. I will take sleep in any form whenever I can get it. This includes turning on a DVD for the tot and snoozing in front of the tv with him while the baby sleeps in her rocker. I have become artful at trying to encourage the baby to nurse and nap during the toddlers nap - scoring myself a minimum of an overlapping forty-five minutes of peace. This probably doesn't seem like much when you are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep at night, but couple that with grabbing an hour in the evening when the husband gets home or first thing in the morning when he's getting up and drinking his coffee and it can come close to a full night of sleep. Which makes it so much easier to relax and almost enjoy those 3am feedings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Now We Are Four

Our days have been filled with nursing, diaper changes, spit-up, preschool runs, toddler tantrums and (when I am really, really lucky) naps. I have jumped full force in to being a mother of two. It's not what I thought it would be at all. It's harder, more tiring, louder, brighter and more exciting. 

When I was pregnant this time around, I had all these goals - I was going to do the "baby wearing" thing. I bought a Moby from a friend and a Mai Tai from a store. I wasn't going to use that nasty nipple shield - I was going to do the straight nursing thing. I was going to be patient with my toddler who would obviously be having some adjustment issues and remind myself that he was going through a transition rather than losing my temper and screaming like crazy at him when he started acting out. I was going to get up very early every day on little or no sleep and get showered and rearing to go so that I could get the kiddo to preschool on time, get my errands run, and clean my house. 

Let me just say that NONE of that is happening. Not a single thing I had planned for or anticipated has gone as I planned. The baby hates - HATES - the moby wrap. She cries as soon as I try to "wear" her. She is addicted to the nipple shield which I succumbed to using in a haze of hormones and fatigue at the hospital. I have tried repeatedly to wean her from it and she refuses to let it go. When she does latch, I am pretty sure it's incorrectly as it feels like she's about to pull my nipple off. I am weak - at this point, I prefer the shield! As far as the temper, mine runs rampant. I feel guilty constantly because my two year old is acting like, well, a two year old and I am frequently exhausted, losing my cool yelling at him and threatening time outs like there's no tomorrow. I keep trying to remind myself that this is a huge transition for him and he's struggling with sharing his space and (more importantly) his mommy, but in the heat of the moment it's hard to remember. And I don't even want to talk about how hard it is to get myself up and out of bed on the days of little sleep in order to get dressed and get the kids fed and out the door. 

So, being the planner that I am, you would think that all of this upheaval would make me miserable. Only it doesn't. It's not what I planned or pictured, but it's a different kind of wonderful. The baby is so small and soft and reminds me so much of her brother who now seems indescribably large by comparison. My toddler is struggling with this new arrival, but he shows a great deal of compassion and care for this new little person. He frequently orders me to "Go get her!" when she cries and he gives her his toys to try to cheer her up. I have explained the purpose behind burping the baby and why she gets fussy when her tummy hurts and he says to her "I am sorry you have bubbles in your tummy". I struggle to find one on one time with each of them, but am so glad for all of our together moments. I love our family. Our messy, loud, disorganized, fun family of four.