Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flipping Out

I completely flipped out last week.  Completely.  It was a flip out worthy of a soap opera scene complete with streaked mascara, a pile of tissues and red puffy nose.  Why?  Well, because I expected a bit too much of myself.

I really and truly thought three kids would be a breeze.  "What's one more?" I would think to myself.  "Newborns sleep most of the time - I'll have plenty of time to adjust!"  Only that isn't exactly what has happened.  Newborns do sleep most of the time but they also need to nurse all the time.  I am on call 24 hours a day to feed my sweet little miracle.  And they love to be held.  And they need to be changed.  And they puke on you.  This would all be just fine if I could nap like I did with my other two but I can't.  My oldest has chosen to forgo his nap and, although he still has an hour of quiet time, this will inevitably be when my daughter chooses to be completely awake.  So I'm tired.  Bone tired.

I'm also trying to homeschool just like I did before.  We used to do structured learning for an hour to an hour and a half then find interesting things to do.  You want to build a train out of cardboard boxes?  Sure!  Let's do it!  Want to go dig in the dirt?  Why not!  A trip to the library?  Why didn't you say so earlier!  Now I have to add in the logistics of leaving the house or doing an activity with a baby who is either nursing, being held or sleeping.  Frankly, I would rather not rock the boat.  If she's happy, I don't want to mess with her and this waylays their plans.  If the boys are happy, her life is disrupted (which means mine is too). Either way, someone is unhappy.  

I've tried to counteract this by setting up busy boxes for the boys, spending one on one time with each of them and sucking it up when they want to go somewhere.  I've tried to talk to friends, take breaks away from them and pray.  A lot.  But it's a precarious balance and I'm doing a terrible job taking care of myself.  

"I'm not making light of this, but you go through this same thing each time we have a baby," my husband said as I pulled out yet another box of Kleenex.  "What do you mean?"  I asked him.  "Well, remember when you called me crying when Drew was a baby because you couldn't seem to find time to pee?"  Uh, yeah.  It's still a little embarassing.  "Well," he continued, "It's the same deal.  You were making everyone else's needs, even the dog's, more important than yours.  Nobody can live like that for long.  Now there are three (four if you count the dog!) ahead of you and you need to readjust; you need to figure out how to make your needs just as important as theirs," he explained.  Oh.

And with those words, I gave myself permission to release my martyrdom.  I breathed a sigh of relief (being a martyr is hard work) and I evaluated my choices.  Do I take the opportunity to sit down and read a book while the baby sleeps and the boys play or do I run around doing laundry and dishes?  Do I push them to clean up their own messes or do it for them?  Do I say "no" when it seems like too much or push myself past what I can handle?  Three small children take a lot of work - There is no question.  But if I make tiny changes and enlist the help of those around me, maybe I can start to feel the joy of parenting again.  I know I will come out of this fog as I always do but in the meantime, I'm going to call my babysitter so that I can pee.

Do you ever feel like you are doing it all and not getting what you need?  How do you pull yourself out of martyrdom?

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