Notes to Self

September 17, 2015

The baggage I carry

I mean this literally…the number of bags I carry each day is pissing me off. I feel like a mule.

 

Each school and workday morning I pack four lunches; one for each of my two children, one for me and one for my husband. That’s 3 bags I have to carry (I take the kids to school on my way to work). Then I have a purse. I downgraded from a backpack to a relatively large messenger bag. That makes 4 bags. Sometimes my eldest want to bring toys to school so she needs her backpack. Of course then my youngest wants his backpack as well. Guess who ends up carrying them? We’re up to 6 bags. On occasion, I go to the grocery store before I pick up the kids so I will either have the empty reusable (and insulated) grocery bags to take to the car in the morning and/or (if they are already in the car) I have a few bags of groceries to bring into the house ALONG WITH the kids (I can’t leave them in the house alone and it would take a good 30 minutes or more to permit them to return outside so I can make a second trip, once you add on all the playtime, dawdling on the stairs, etc. That can bring the total up to 8 or 12. But that’s not all. Some days I either have to carry my son or end up bending down with the 8-12 bags to pick him up because he’s too busy playing and won’t just walk into the house so I can put down all of these bags. The kicker is that I wonder why I am so annoyed by the time I actually get into the house and struggle to walk around my kids or their shoes (which my daughter takes off as soon as she gets into the door and then leaves in the middle of the floor) or the meowing cat to peel the bags off of my body and use the bathroom.

 

Yesterday was show and tell for my daughter’s class. I suggested that she bring the pop-up tent my kids had been playing with for the last few days. Of course that meant that I had to carry this awkward item, in addition to all the bags and my son. Great idea! Anyway. Last night I propped the tent against the car and apparently forgot it because it was leaning against the stairs of the daycare this morning. My kids saw it and were very upset. I planned to bring the tent to the car after I dropped off the kids but my daughter wanted to retrieve the tent immediately. So, carrying the two lunch bags and watching my son so he doesn’t run into the street or get hit by a car coming out of the driveway, I also then had to take the tent from my daughter, chase down my son and pick him up so I could put the damned tent into the car. As I began losing my temper and becoming overwhelmed with anxiety/frustration, I heard myself complaining mumbling something like “this is why I wasn’t going to take it until later”. I looked up and caught a glimpse of a man sitting in a car watching us. I felt awful. What he must think of me and my parenting. How terrible that must look to everyone and how absolutely wretched it must be for my children to experience. And for what? The inconvenience of too many things to carry?

 

Sure, that seems like a simple thing. Oh – what’s the problem…it’s a few bags! But it isn’t that simply and we shouldn’t downplay these kinds of situations. If it were one day, here and there of too many things then it may not be cause for a blog post. But every day (weekends are not much different because I have the diaper bag, extra clothes, water, food, toys…..) of carrying and struggling is just too much for me to handle. I strap the lunch bags and my purse across my body so they don’t fall off my arm but then they strangle me and fall forward when I bend down. I am weak and sometimes feel as though the muscles in my shoulders are ripping from the weight. It’s very painful. And I look around and don’t see ANYONE with as many bags as I have. Sure; there are other folks who pack their kids lunch but the bags are small and don’t even have straps. Because I pack so many things in my kids’ lunch bags (two fruits, a hot meal, yogurt, vege’s, etc), I purchased larger lunch bags. I didn’t realize how large they actually were, but I wanted to make sure there was enough room for all the Tupperware and the ice-packs. And they have pockets for miscellaneous things (hair clips, vitamins, extra clothes, etc). So from the start I created this enlarged baggage. But it’s form fits function….right?

 

But the issue isn’t really about the bags. Sure; it’s not easy and not fun and no one would voluntarily do what I do (well, actually, mothers do voluntarily do what I do – I just haven’t met any like me and with a similar number of bags!). The issue is my perception of the situation and of me and my performance as a mother and a woman. When it comes down to it I feel like, and believe that I look like, complete chaos; a “hot mess” as some would say. I feel silly. Lame. Pathetic and clumsy. There is something inherently wrong with me that creates this situation, and many more like it, and makes me feel completely isolated and like a total failure. There is a better way to do this and I am not capable of figuring that out. Here’s another fundamental belief; one of a few songs that get sung over and over in my head without me realizing it until it’s too late. They cloud my judgement, fill me with anxiety and make me say and do things I instantly regret. I may realize I am in this state but not until I am too far gone. I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to calm down and pour water on the fire. I thought about getting a really tight bracelet with “CTFD” written on it….perhaps it would be so tight that I could never ignore it and I would have a constant reminder to calm the fuck down. But I didn’t think it would be workplace appropriate, and wasn’t sure it would work – feared it would actually make me more anxious.

 

So. How to start “fixing” this? Medication. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist to see about some medication for my anxiety. I haven’t been to therapy in a while (too much going on in my life that demands my time) but I plan to return soon. I wanted to start medication several months ago but couldn’t get an appointment. Funny….mental health practitioners can’t give appointments for 1-2 months. Somehow that seems contrary to the purpose of the care. But I digress. I am hoping with all my might that medication will help lessen the reaction and I can stop myself before it’s too late; that I’ll stop becoming my anxiety and exploding inside and out. It’s all about behavior modification. But without a trainer following me around I need help.

 

I cannot stop carrying so many bags but hopefully I can stop doing so with so much baggage (and yes, I am now referring to baggage in the figurative sense! LOL!). What baggage do you carry with you every day?

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May 16, 2014

It was a beautiful moment

Two mornings ago when the baby woke at 4:30 AM-ish, I asked my husband to take him, which he did. But he sat in the next room such that I could hear every beautiful babble and coo the baby made, thereby preventing me from SLEEPING! Finally, in a sleep-deprive induced huff, I snappily said “why don’t you go back to sleep and I will take the baby downstairs”. And that was that.

 

Let me first give you some background and perspective. Over the past 6 and a half months, I have nursed or pumped every 2-3 hours. Think about that for a moment. I bet you don’t even go to the bathroom that frequently. Take a day (and I mean all 24 hours of it) and see what that’s like. Every 2-3 hours, stop what you are doing (or wake up) and imagine being sucked on for 20 or so minutes. I calculated that I have nursed or pumped approximately one-thousand and sixty times (1560) since my son was born 6.5 months ago. And that’s an underestimation which doesn’t include when he nurses one side and then the other. And I will do that for the next 5.5 months.

 

Lately, my baby has been going to sleep around 7 PM (after I nurse him) and then waking after 20 minutes and being wide awake until he finally sleeps at around 9 PM. Sometimes he can go back to sleep without nursing again but lately I have had to nurse him three times (both sides at each session) before I can go to bed. Last night was no different but I thought that my husband could take him and get him to sleep while I read to my daughter etc. No dice since my daughter wanted us to “switch kids”. So after a myriad of things, and while my husband cuddled my daughter to sleep up in our bed, including time in the bouncer, a pacifier (which he doesn’t use or accept) and three nursing sessions, I was spent and the baby wasn’t even close to going to sleep. And I knew that my husband was asleep upstairs, which made me angry. So I deposited the baby into his crib and handed my husband the monitor. Baby started crying and my husband took him downstairs (yeah!).

 

Fast forward to 3 AM when I have finished nursing the baby, moved my daughter to her bed because she took up my space and finally settled in….crying begins and the baby is up. I nudged my husband and said “he’s awake”. Again, he took him downstairs. Here comes the beautiful part –

At 5 AM I woke up and heard nothing. No cries, no alarm and no need to get up. The kids were all safe and the baby was with his dad. I wasn’t needed and I didn’t have to do anything. In that moment I felt serene. I smiled. If I wasn’t so damned tired I would have cried. I fell back asleep.

 

I am not sure whether I have conveyed to you the enormity of that experience. After so much time of non-stop giving, in that one, beautiful moment I could just be (and sleep!). So if you know a mom who breastfeeds, tell her how amazing she is. Give her encouragement and maybe even a hug. We aren’t in the business of saying we are better than moms who don’t breastfeed (and if you do, shame on you and you shouldn’t!), but it is a different experience and it can be very difficult. And for heaven’s sake – if the opportunity arises, give her the chance to have a beautiful moment like I had. It will do wonders for her.

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