I have 30 minutes to write this, because even though I don’t have 30 minutes to spare, I’m giving them to myself. I am a martyr and a saint like that. In spite of this self-induced mayhem, I have had thoughts gnawing at me and I want to try and get them down.
I’m doing not great. Not horrible either, though horrible and I have spent some quality time together in the past couple of months. But I didn’t have the headspace or the confidence to share while the rain was really coming down. Baby number three was born 10 weeks ago now, and the baby bliss was as sweet as it was short lived.
I went back to work when Astrid was five weeks old. Back to one of the jobs, anyways, so not full time for now. But without a doubt and in spite of my most secret pre-baby delusions, even at a reduced schedule it definitely feels like I am back to work. I wasn’t mentally or physically ready, but I was determined to squeeze blood from this stone. I love this job and did not want to lose it. (Right? I love this job? I don’t want to lose it?) So there’s that. And there is the hormonal crash. And then there is the sleep deprivation. My insides are scrambled, literally, and my insides are scrambled, figuratively.
During a lot of baby’s life, I’ve existed in a merry-go-round state of mind. All that I feel and know has an equally strong and opposing feeling and conviction, and I spin – in and out, and up and down – through it. There are times I feel so lucky I could burst, while others I feel regret and failure so palpably that I cry. And while I cry, the voice that tells me that I am so lucky that I should want to burst comes through. But she’s not joyful now. She’s judgmental and mean. In the minutes (seconds?) that I feel like I have a handle on it all and I’m loving the challenge of work and baby and big kids, I am feel like superwoman. Only to be met with any tiny obstacle upon which I collapse. Because, she reminds me, I’m weak and moreover I’m to blame: I made my bed. Over these recent weeks, I’ve never been more grateful for my partner and co-parent. And yet I spew resentment and frustration with great force. The voice is back, now, telling me I’m an ingrate. And I am. But I’m also really hurting. I wish I wasn’t so mad at myself for that fact.
How are the older kids doing? Lord, I can’t even go there. They are amazing and resilient and I am awful. Not 100% of the time. I’ve been good here and there. But not mostly. My reaction towards them during this transition weighs on me, heavily.
Balance is a moving target. That’s my mantra. Life is its hiccups. There is no end of the tunnel where we are without challenges. The kids will get sent home from school, clothes soaked in vomit. Tires go flat. Dinner burns. People who shouldn’t be hurt get hurt. How wise, me with my “no duh”isms. Obviousness aside, my balance is off. I need to adjust my expectations and my perspective, and maybe I need a pro to help with all of this. It’s hard when the answer – more to do – might involve adding to the fire that is burning you up. Whine whine whine, right?
What’s the point? I’ll let you know when I know.
But here’s what I want to say, really:
Amid all of this self-involved trash and maybe some legit anguish, so very many people have been there for me. And record numbers of them haven’t listened to me when I have said that I’m good. They pressed just a bit and saw the cracks. Thank you for asking and thank you for listening. Friends have come by to let me break down and every time it happened, I needed it so bad.
And others have called or visited or welcomed my barrage of baby pic texts, all telling me how beautiful that baby is; how precious this time is; how wonderful it is to hold her and breathe her in. Thank you for your kindness and warmth. It fuels and centers me, if only for a moment. When you hold my baby and you love her, you are giving me an immense gift. When you make my big kids smile, when I haven’t done that in days, you are healing me too.
There are also the meals, the coffee dates, the holding her so I can use the bathroom (and take 20 deep breaths). I struggle to make sense of this love and caring. It has helped in every way.
And so I am lucky and grateful and happy. I’m also floundering and sad and bad at this right now. My family has their hands full with their Jekyll/Hyde of a mom. All of the support I’ve gotten from outside of these people who need more of me than I have at the moment has been lifesaving. I know I’ll be fine because what point is there in believing otherwise?
Time is up. Lots of love,