Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What If It's Me?

I don't want to give any of my blog readers (all nine of you!) the false impression that my life is all rosy and chipper. I've been trying to make an effort to blog about some of the sunny spots in my days, like when I write about cute things the kids do or fun trips. Blogging has helped me get it out. I've found it forces me to seek the good in my days. But, to be honest, things are kind of rough lately. Just when I feel like I'm ready to exhale, something else comes along and causes me to gasp again. Lately (at least for the past few months, or 14 to be exact), the issue seems to be something with Jackson: teething or rashes or sleeping or runny noses or sore throats or ear infections or wiping out three times in a row on the driveway or in the house.

I tell myself not to complain. I have friends and neighbors who have it worse than me (one has twins, one has FIVE kids and is a single mom and is going to school full time, one spent two months straight with her kid in and out of the hospital, etc.). So why should my easy little life be so difficult? Well, honestly, I don't know why. But it is, at least to me... at least right now. I have a little voice in my head saying maybe I just wasn't cut out to be a mama. Maybe it's just not my thing, and I should go back to work and leave childrearing to the paid professionals. Maybe my heart just can't stretch big enough to make room for my kids 24 hours a day. Maybe I'd only be good at motherhood three hours a day. Maybe I need to just accept my limits and move on. If my heart isn't happy being a stay at home mom, then maybe I need to find another outlet. The catch is that I don't think my heart will be any happier if I let someone else care for my kids.

Today is a typical day like any other: Jackson woke crying this morning, and I bolted out of bed to get there before he became inconsolable (which happens quickly). But he was crying differently today, and I couldn't console him. So I put him back in bed and he calmed down within five minutes. I went back to get him, and we went downstairs to cuddle on the couch. Where I used to get up to 15 minutes of cuddling, lately I've been lucky to get up to five. And, today, he wanted nothing of the sort. I moved on to breakfast. Again, no. Throwing food at me, hitting my hands, screaming. I picked him up and walked through the house, then tried breakfast again. Nope. Same thing. We rocked in the recliner for a minute or two, then more screaming. At this point, I was giving up. He'd been awake only 45 minutes, but I decided it was time for his first nap. We went up to his room and rocked in the dark, and he calmed a bit.

As I rocked him I cried, wondering what exactly is going on. I took him to the doctor yesterday because I was worried his fussiness was from an ear infection. They said his ears are clear and he had a negative strep test. His throat was red and he's had a runny nose for what seems like months, and I know he's getting some molars. But, seriously. Is all that enough to make him cry all the time?

My tears were falling all over him, and after I put him down I sat on my bed and prayed. Then I started writing. I felt like I heard God whispering back to me. Here's how it went:
Me: I don't know how to fix it. How to make him better. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Why is he so miserable? Am I making him this way? And he's not that way with other people, is he? Is it just me? What do I do?
God: Just hold him and love him. (This is when I glanced at a pillow I made in 2005, with a quote that Mom said God told her: "This is my miracle. Stay out of the way. I have it under control.")
Me: But what if it's affecting Katie? And Dan, and me?
God: I have it under control. Hang in there. I'll carry you. Let me.
Me: I don't know how.
God: Just fall. Let go. Let me.
Me: Okay, Lord. Help me. I am yours.

And I showered and felt better, ready to try again and start the day over. Until we got to the library for a show and Jackson started up again. No big deal. I can handle this! Until we got to lunch with friends, and Jackson's fussing escalated into crying and throwing food and all the usual. It was all I could do to just bolt out of there and get us home. We walked in the door, and I started crying... again. I didn't even put Jackson down because he'd scream at that. Poor, sweet Katie. She brought me a tissue and hugged my legs. So I sat on the floor with her (which made Jackson mad, but he eventually got over it) and we hugged until I calmed down and remembered to be the adult.

Now Jackson is napping and Katie is having quiet time. And my head is full of all sorts of nasty thoughts: stop having a pity party for yourself! You're being a big baby. But maybe Jackson's seriously ill. Maybe his eczema is a sign of milk allergy or peanut allergy. Maybe he's autistic. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

What am I doing to myself? Second-guessing everything. I told my friend Beth that I am so out of whack, I don't even have an instinct to follow anymore. I used to be the type of mom who could stay the course and not get caught up in all the drama. I haven't worried too much about food preservatives, germs on grocery carts, microwave safety, plastics, etc. I think I'm still pretty down to earth. But lately all the crying is getting to me, and making me worry that maybe there's a bigger problem with Jackson that I just can't see. Ugh.

I think the issue is that I want it to get easier. Not easy, just easiER. I guess I just need to take a break. Let go and fall. Thanks, God.


Anonymous said...

I can’t put my thoughts into words very well (mommy brain and a late hour!) but I wanted to say I feel your pain. . . I understand questioning whether you are doing the right thing (in the minutia of caring for Jackson as well as the bigger picture of whether you should even be an at-home mom). . . This is the speech I give myself when I’m feeling some of what you described, and I hope it at least helps you feel you’re not alone in this:

Feeling stressed, worried and uncertain doesn’t make you any less of a person or a mom! I like to be an even-keel person and feel uncomfortable in my own skin when I have too much emotion going on, but I have come to terms that the emotion comes from being passionate about something, being invested in it, and of course in being a flawed human being. It doesn’t mean you’re not “doing it right”, it means you’re doing exactly what you should be! You’re invested, you’re dedicated, you care and you’re giving it your all. Doing something right (for me) needs to mean putting your whole self into it and that comes with a lot of ups and downs. You’re not perfect (sorry to break it to you!) and you never will be.

I don’t quite know how to come to terms with the “poor me’s” that I also get bogged down with. . . 3-year old won’t potty train, NOBODY seems to stay asleep in their own bed regularly, pets make messes all over the place, when am I ever going to do ANY of those “someday” projects, oops I forgot umpteen different appointments I need to make, and YUCK! Do you see what a mess this house is – again?! Sometimes the circus that is everyday life and is supposed to be the food of my soul just feels like so much drudgery. . . but where do I get off pitying myself when there are so many people with so many bigger problems, REAL problems out there?! I guess God gives us all our crosses to bear and sometimes our blessings are glued right to the other side of our cross! They’re our Yin and Yang, flipsides of the same coin and I’ve just got to convince myself that struggling to look at the silver lining and always look on the bright side are simply human challenges. The fact that we struggle doesn’t make us bad, just human.

Lastly, although I hate to wish away any time in my life or encourage anyone else to do so (what is that one poem about not wishing/waiting ‘till next week, next month; after the kids are grown, after I get that promotion, after I retire, after I lose that weight, get that makeover, after, after, after – enjoy NOW) But – I was really struck in your blog postings with how appreciative you are of Katie and enamored you are with the little girl she’s becoming - - - due so much to YOU and YOUR mothering! When Katie was young and I didn’t see you as much or know you as well, I remember what a handful Katie was and how I saw you on several occasions working so hard to deal with her temper tantrums (which you did very well, but of course it was hard and you looked tired and challenged) and look how great she is now – thanks to you and Dan and everything you do. It may not help in the moments right now when Jackson is being so difficult, but you’re obviously doing a lot of things RIGHT and it will just be a matter of time until you see his better self come shining through!


Brina said...

I just love you...that's all :)


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