or for my pregnant friends:
I have to admit. Lately I've been in a bit of a mothering funk.
NOT because I have a child with Down syndrome (believe me). Truth is, I have been going absolutely crazy because I have two toddlers who are driving me up the wall, over the cliff, and into the hurricane (after setting me on fire).
As much as I "complain" that people ask me if they are twins, the truth is- caring for them is a lot like caring for twins. Addison is delayed (and small) for her age, and Carter is on track (and big) for his age. I find them meeting somewhere in the middle- meeting of the minds, talents, skills for evil, trouble-causing-genes.
Over the weekend I hit a breaking point, declaring that I could not
1. change ONE MORE diaper
2. fish "floaties" out of the bathtub and sanitize it yet again
3. make a toddler friendly meal that is spit back at me from two smirking mouths AGAIN
4. dress three people EVERY time I step foot out of my house
5. carry both twinsies at the same time EVER again (my back has had enough)
6. take them out of the house again just to have them run opposite directions and pretend to not hear me yell "NO" and "STOP"
7. try to work yet again around the house while two chubby toddlers are trying to scale my legs
8. spend another 12 hours confined to hearing only babbling so that by the end of the day I'm convinced that theirs are the "real words" and my simple English is the "pre-language gibberish"
9. have a sensitive stomach "explode" all over me ONE MORE TIME
10. pick up my house one.more.time. after the "spreading of objects" that happens all day long
They have both entered a very hard stage. A wiggling, mischievous, disobedient, strong-willed stage. This weekend I just didn't know how I was going to take another day. (side note: this is a stage that I never thought I would experience with Down syndrome. Boy was I wrong. She is JUST as "normal" a toddler as Carter is- just a few months delayed)
I tried to convince myself that I was being ungrateful. That I was supposed to "savor the moment" and remember that they would be grown before I could blink (I blinked a bunch of times to test this theory, but then I still had to go change an explosive diaper-FAIL). I even lectured myself about people I know who have lost babies or can't have children of their own for some reason- hoping to then feel grateful for the two babies I have been entrusted with.
None of that worked (although I did check into several shipping methods to send my two children with no return address to such a friend's house).
It's just that motherhood gives you no real break. It's go-go-go, feed-feed-feed, and change-change-change which is all fun and games until BOTH children decide that they are SO over nap time, and they'd rather cry and whine all day instead because they're so tired.
On Friday I hit a new low. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I wanted them to get outside and play while the weather still allowed us to be outside. We can't really play in our yard because of the deck construction that is going on. (If there is ONE loose screw, my children will find it- stab each other with it in the eye, and then attempt to swallow it.) So, we went to the park.
They were good for a few minutes as we visited with some fellow park-goers. I basked in the slight wind, beautiful scenery, and seeing them run and get some energy out. After the others left the park, I sat down with a sigh on the bench. It had been a long morning, and I just needed to take some deep breaths.
Addison and Carter's plan, however, was to run and run and run- in opposite directions- toward the street.
over and over and over again.
No matter how many times I brought them back into the park and encouraged them to play like they usually did- they only wanted to escape- in opposite directions, knowing that I couldn't chase them both at once.
When I realized that they were ignoring my "NO"s and "STOPS" and had absolutely NO intention of obeying, I packed them back up in the car, and we headed home.
I was frustrated. I was tired. I was emotionally exhausted and feeling guilty that I was.
Arriving in our driveway, I was hit with a moment of "genius". I opened the two back doors to our car and invited the crosswind in to filter past the two naughty cherubs strapped into their car seats. I told them to enjoy the fresh air and then I sat down next to the car to relax on the driveway for a few minutes. I was alone with my thoughts without two wiggling bodies pushing and shoving to sit solo in my lap.
It wasn't the park. It wasn't "play time" as they were strapped down and couldn't really move. But it was necessary even though it made me feel guilty to confine them in such a way in order to get one minute of peace.
I tried to gain perspective. I tried to think positive thoughts, but the headache that was pounding my head wouldn't let me. I just didn't want to do it anymore- it was too hard. When we got back inside I turned on "Signing Time" and their infatuation with the show gave me a few more minutes of peace as I continued to work to compose myself.
I got news for you. This motherhood gig? NOT easy. Each step of the way has its own challenges and heartaches and "I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE" pity parties.
I wasn't going to post anything about this here on the blog. I want to only post of rainbows and smiles and those "blessed moments" and chocolate-induced giggles. But the truth is, motherhood is a marathon that is frustrating, hard, impossible, and dirty work in addition to those Pampers commercial moments of fluff and "I'm so blessed" choruses.
It wouldn't be fair to paint you a picture of our life without blending in the dark colors to off-set the light ones. I wish I could tell you that I ALWAYS love being a mother, but these past few days of "cry if I'm not being held" and "cry if she holds us both at the same time" I wished that I wasn't because this is just too hard.
And then I had this crazy thought that maybe I'm not the only person going through this. Maybe I'm not the only mother out there who is up to her neck in dirty diapers and frustrated with kids that are exploring their "evil side" all too often. Maybe- just maybe I'm not the only one who thinks that "their childhoods went WAY too fast" sounds appealing and desirable because something HAS to change and NOW because I'm not going to make it one more day. I decided that maybe by posting this I could show that this place of frustration doesn't have to be a lonely place. A "Welcome to the crazy house...you're not alone" type of thing.
You want to know the one thing that helped me get over the weekend funk (read- most of last week) enough to start a fresh, new week with a fresh, new perspective? Do you want to know what caused me to go stare at the sleeping cherubs (they're ALWAYS good when they sleep!), praying for patience and whispering thanks for the opportunity to be their mother?
A TV show. I know, ridiculous- right? A TV show where a new, young mother was given a scary cancer diagnosis. Where she had to face the thought of missing her six month old's entire life. Where she wrote letter after letter for her son to read through out his life so that she could always somehow be with him. A new mother who would miss taking her boy to school, helping him when he's sick, coaching him when he fails, praising him when he doesn't because her life ended long before she was ready.
The thought of NOT being able to be there every day for my kids gave me new perspective. The thought of bringing them into this world but NOT being able to hold their hand every step of the way to adulthood was heartbreaking to me.
Yesterday was hard. The day before that was hard. And the day before that was hard. And to be honest? Today will probably be hard as well. But the thing that is keeping me going right now? Is not knowing if I get a tomorrow.
I love my kids. They drive me crazy. But they're MY crazy, and I always want to be here for them-to fight for them- to love them. I know that the reality is that I'm not guaranteed that any more than they're guaranteed to always be here for me.
I hear them stirring because no doubt they hear the keys clacking on my computer as I type this. I'm going to go sit really still for a few minutes, drink some more hot lemon tea (so yummy!), and pray that nap time lasts long enough for me to unload the dishwasher so that I don't have a another "CARTER PUT DOWN THAT CARVING KNIFE" moment/heart attack.
I'm choosing to celebrate today. I'm choosing to be thankful even when I don't feel thankful. The moments might not be particularly "savorable" right now, but if I look back tomorrow with the inability to be there for my kids, I'm going to wish I had appreciated even the bad days.
(and if you're getting ready to call social services because of the pictures at the top of the post...I REALLY hope you read the post first and remember how sarcastic I can be at times....)
Here's to motherhood. A painful, joyous, frustrating, wonderful calling.