I was in la-la land after I had my first two babies, who were twins. I had quit my job coordinating a master's degree program for teachers at the university to stay home with my boys. I had nothing to do all day but bask in total baby love times two.
Well, not nothing.
There were two babies to feed, pumping to do (for my son with the cleft lip and palate who needed to be bottle fed), bottles to be washed and prepared, laundry, grocery shopping and meals for my husband, who because of his residency, I barely saw. I had to get in tummy time and stories and cuddling for both boys. And naps for me. Very important naps.
Really, not a very difficult lifestyle for a new mom. Really. I was basking in it. After years of dreaming of babies and months of fertility treatments and bed rest, they were finally here; and I was loving it.
Most of the time.
They were born in December, and I live in the Midwest; so we didn't get out much at first. As soon as we could get out (and I figured out how my double stroller worked), I found lots of excuses to do so. They mostly involved trips to Target, which was about five minutes away. We needed diapers, or I needed nursing pads, or the boys needed new onesies. I would finally get a shower, make myself look presentable, and dress the boys in cute little outfits (NEVER matching because after all, they were fraternal twins who looked completely different. Plus I think dressing twins exactly alike is wrong, just totally wrong . . . and a little creepy). Once at Target, I would stroll around as long as the boys were happy. Long enough to pump my ego.
I would inevitably run into the "twin gawkers" who would 'ooh' and 'ahh' over the babies and marvel at how I had them out and about at such a young age. I would get questions about my son's unrepaired lip; and then they were really impressed I was handling twins, plus a child with a birth defect.
Then there were the other new moms. I would see these frazzled moms in sweatpants and ponytails with no makeup, pushing a single stroller. They would stop me and say, "You have two? I barely made it out of the house with one! AND I haven't showered in two days!" I'd smile sweetly and walk away feeling smug that I could do it all! Yes, it was my affirmation that I had this mom-thing in the bag!
Fast forward seven years - and two more babies later PLUS a terminal illness AND an unexpected pregnancy . . .
I'm a mess!
I am so tired with this pregnancy I can hardly stand it! I can barely get myself out of bed in the morning to get my seven year old ready for school and his carpool which arrives at 7:35 a.m. If I don't get up at 6:00 a.m. to shower, it really doesn't get done because my five- and three-year-olds are busy and NEEDY! More often than not I am seen in public these days with my hair in a ponytail and wearing yoga pants. My boys are mobile now and they touch everything! Trips to Target these days are not pleasant strolls. They are get in, get out, and get on with it! I receive more dirty looks than admiring compliments, and gone is the smug feeling that I am better than any other mom.
After my son died, I went through a period of feeling really bad about myself and my mothering. I was depressed and pregnant at 40 and too tired to get off the couch most days. I was falling asleep on the couch at night and forgetting to make my son's lunch for school or making sure he had a clean white uniform shirt to wear. I often thought, 'I am failing my sons.'
What I now know is that I am the same as other moms. There are things which we can all handle and handle well. Then there are the times in life, the situations or events that drag us down, that seem like too much, that make us so crazy we think we will implode. It happens to us all (although we all know women who would never admit that in a million years). The bottom line is that we all do what we can do just to get through the day sometimes, and sometimes we go above and beyond like supermom because we can . . . and it all balances out. And our kids get the gift of seeing us as human.
When my twins were little and just
At 7, 5, and 3, they still love to play chase, and I find that I am Sumo Mom once again.
Difficult and unexpected things happen in life. It's good to show our children how we handle them, even if it's not in the best way. But what a bonus it is for them when we can make the best of it with humor and love!
|image by Jose Gil/dreamstime|