Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who knew this blog could get any whinier?

I think Emily may have had it right in her comment on my last post: just fake it. Pretend I have it together at the office, pretend I'm not on the verge of a meltdown at home. There is a tight little smile plastered on my face as I go through my day, with a couple of hours' respite during the long commute. I also think Cass had a big part of it right, so I will bang my head against a convenient wall when I just can't cope anymore, and perhaps lock myself in the bathroom and scream on occasion, as Jennifer suggested.

The days are just hard, and that's the way it is. I get up at seven if I'm lucky, nurse an unenthusiastic baby, get ready for work, pump, pack up all the crap I need to take with me, get the other one up, take her to the potty, dress her, feed her, check work email, dash out the door, drive for an hour, work for ten, pump twice more and drive the hour back home. It is now 8:30 or so. I am then beset by an eager Josh and Olivia, try to make something for dinner while entertaining one or both of them, get Olivia toileted, play with them both for a few minutes, get Josh nursed, get him to bed, get Olivia to bed, pump again and try to get ten minutes' peace before I have to turn in, too. An hour or two later, the crying starts and the nighttime round of hushings and feedings and lullabyes starts up. When something else gets thrown into the mix--illness (frequent), necessary travel, unexpected home repairs, anything--I just start to lose my ability to cope, or even pretend to cope.

I don't want to give the wrong impression here. I am not struggling with half the burden that some people have. Chris asked about resources, and I do have resources--I have resources that the me of fifteen years ago wouldn't have credited. There are people who mow our lawn, clean our house and whisk away our drycleaning. I have two excellent nannies covering different days of the week and a thoughtful, involved, creative husband who probably does more parenting (and more enjoying of parenting) than I. I get to work from home one day a week; Jeff is working from home three days. And yet, with all of the help, with all of the accommodations we have been granted, I struggle to make it to the end of each day.

I always thought of myself as someone who thrived on pressure. I secretly relished an impossible deadline, the adrenaline of a major crunch, the challenge of high expectations. What I didn't realize was that I would eventually wilt, that I can't sustain it. I guess I just hadn't been challenged enough, for long enough, to know this till now.

So I am finding out all sorts of things about me that I never knew--for example, that I am not nearly as mentally stable as I thought I was; that I am completely incapable of any sort of emotional distance from other people's tragedies; that I can get blindingly, irrationally furious over irrelevant things. That I am, in short, a different, rawer, less certain person now than I was before, be it temporary (please) or permanent. And I need to adjust to who I am, and what I am today, and not expect the driven, competent, happy me of old to be front-and-center right now.

I wouldn't change much, even if I could. Perhaps I would have a sane, kindly, helpful old mother who could come and live with us; perhaps I would have a lighter work schedule. But I don't, so I need to deal with my life exactly as it is. And those moments when the kids do something novel, something silly, something sweet, something interesting--those are the moments I live for, the moments that drown out the fact that I am worn down and overwhelmed.

It will get easier. Some part of me know that it will, not too long from now, get easier. For now, I have to accept that I am where I am, mentally, emotionally and physically. Lower my expectations of me for a while.

Apologies for the self-indulgent rambling. With my new, lower standards, though, I don't think I will take the time to edit.

Monday, June 16, 2008

All-consumed

It's weeks like this that find me wondering what I was grousing about before--you know, way back when, back in those days of pillowy luxury, those days when I had just the one all-consuming baby to suck up every spare cycle in my distracted brain, every spare scintilla of my limited energy.

I asked for it. I did. I asked for it, I asked for it, I asked for it. And I don't regret it. I couldn't ever regret Joshua, my ebullient boy, with his fuzzy head and cockamamie grin. But, shit, two is hard. Hard hard.

How do people do this? How do they make it work? What is the secret? For fuck's sake, even my barmy mother managed to raise three of us, and without the resources or conveniences I'm enjoying in this modern age.

Seriously, dear friends in the computer: How?