today was a day i hope that i always remember, in a tale of two cities kind of way.
it was the worst of times, it was the best of times.
i hit a really hard place this morning. i don't know why. i could list a million reasons that may sound like excuses to stronger, more immortal people than i am--pregnancy, sickness, nap strikes, jobs that i'm just not doing very well at all, the burdens (yes, they are joys sometimes but right now they are burdens) of being responsible for a home and its care/maintenance, life in general. it doesn't really matter why.
i just hit a place where i said something that i've never said before: "i don't think i can do this anymore." i didn't mean it in some sort of scary way. i meant "i don't know if i can keep doing what i'm doing every day anymore."
in essence, i was saying i was breaking.
i think it's been coming for a while, but i've been sticking my proverbial finger in the dam. it works for a while, but it's not sustainable. and the looming picture of what's coming up for us: new baby, student teaching, me still responsible for teaching as much as i am now...it's just really frightening to me if this is how things are going right now.
maggie was, this morning, in pretty rare form. when i step back and see it for what it is, i understand. she's getting molars, i'm pretty sure, and they are making her quite the grumpster. and it takes her forever and a day to get any tooth, so she's also getting her last front bottom tooth at the same time (the partner cut a few days ago, so i know the other one is on the way). she's getting over a cold. she's got some kind of developmental thing happening because her language is exploding and she's determined to climb on anything and everything in sight. this leads to her getting to the one place that was the dumping ground for everything that we didn't want her to get to. oh, and she's striking her naps now too. so yeah...lots of stuff going on here.
but these things are all easy to see with the tiniest bit of perspective.
i didn't have even a little bit of that this morning.
instead, i felt like every single day was a fight. a fight to get her to eat. a fight to get her to sleep. a fight to get myself to feel well enough to cook something. a fight to get myself to feel well enough to do something after she went to bed, something that i am being paid to do. a fight to try to be kind to those around me, including maggie. a fight to not feel like an epic failure all of the time.
all that fighting? exhausting.
so today, around regular nap time, maggie and i headed up to her room. normally, she'll let me rock her and then she'll fuss and want to go in her bed. sometimes this means she's ready to sleep. sometimes this means she's getting there but isn't quite there. sometimes this means that she's about to jump up and party in her bed. if it's a nap strike, that's exactly what it means. i have learned, quick enough, how to read the signs.
but this time? this time she added a new twist. she refused to let me rock her. like she'd let me but then she would try to twist and arch out of my arms, so hard that she nearly faceplanted on the floor out of my arms. all of this is going on while it seems like she's so tired--that's the other little frustration gold mine. she always seems like she's exhausted when she does this.
i just...lost it. it seemed like nothing i did would work, nothing i did was good enough, nothing i did was good. i know that sounds supremely woe-is-me, but that's where i was at. i burst into tears, pretty well begging her to let me rock her, to let me help her, and it had no effect (other than to make her upset).
so i called my mom.
who told me exactly what i needed to hear, because she's a mom and has magical powers.
she told me that i was doing it, that i was doing a good job. that all of this worrying about being a total failure was COMPLETELY normal. that i was doing the work of four people and that no one can just do that indefinitely. that figuring out which battles to fight--in my case, the constant saying "no" and the getting her out of stuff was the most exasperating--would help a lot. to not worry about whether or not she eats or sleeps--to put myself first for a little while.
how do they do that? how do they know? i mean, i guess i know maggie better than anybody else, in the sense that i can sometimes tell what's up with her or have a sense of what's up with her before anyone else does. but really...when do the magical powers start? because i could really use some of those.
in the midst of the nap striking and crying, i was also praying. praying hard. and i thought i got some pretty immediate answers, which were cool. and mom said a few of them again, which was really cool. but when i listened--when i did the things that i was being directed to do--it was like the entire day turned around.
my eyes are still puffy, red, and sore, but my attitude is entirely different. i turned off the netflix and turned on some CDs. i cleared off the table that seemed so very enchanting to maggie. i figured out a plan for how to break up tasks during the week. i made lunch. she actually ate some (sweet potato fries. i swear the kid is trying to kill me. how to get her to eat fruits and vegetables? i have no idea. but at least they were sweet potato fries and not regular fries and at least she had pears for breakfast.) lunch like a real kid. she seemed entirely different (i had also given her some tylenol for those teeth) and i did too.
i have no doubt as to why.
i don't think there's a mother out there who doesn't have the power to call in the heavenly forces in her favor when her goal is to do the best for her family. i don't think there is anything more powerful than that prayer of desperation, of rock bottom feeling, of frustration. i know that i have been infinitely blessed today. i can feel it--it's palpable. i know that i have too much on my plate, but i know that i will be able to manage it better if i just listen a little bit better.
i guess i just wanted to write this down, while it's still fresh, because sometimes you just feel like you're not doing a good job. sometimes you feel like, from the outside looking in, everybody else has it together and you're the only one who says no too much and who gets really, really annoyed that no one's listening. you're the only one who feels like you're not measuring up to the dream you had in your head of the kind of mom you wanted to be. i think that's really, really not true. i think the deepest truth is that every mom has these moments--probably over and over, in each stage of a child's life--and most moms never talk about them because they are so raw. so we just sit with it, and with live with it, and we stew in it, and we pray about it, and we hope that we can find our way out of it.
and i think most of us do because we reach out, even just a little bit, and feel a Guiding Hand helping us through. and He leads others into our path who say something amazing, or who are just there when we need them. and He makes sure that we are known and He makes sure that we know that we are loved.
but i just wanted to say, that if there's another mom out there who is feeling this way, you're not alone and you're entirely normal.
being a mom is the hardest job ever. it never ends, it never stops, and it never ceases to strip you bare and rebuild you again. that's hard stuff to endure, and the minutia of it can seem unyielding and eternal. i'm going to try to not get bogged down in that stuff so much anymore, or when i feel myself doing so, to remind myself of this day and how quickly a little bit of perspective can turn things around.
and how calling your mom can really work miracles.
and how a few sweet potato fries and an afternoon nap and a half dose of tylenol can make anybody's day a little bit better.
hang in there, everyone. we're going to make it.