Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Buh Duh Buh Buh Daaah

You know that moment when you say, "Honey, I could really use a break. We should take the kids somewhere fun this weekend. I think name a town, USA would be fun. Don't you think that would be fun? Let's go." So plans get under way to go to Nameatown for the weekend and you know it will be stressful traveling less than four weeks after giving birth but it will mostly be fun and after all that's what families are for, to make happy memories with, right? You try to prepare ahead of time, but there's always busy-ness and time doesn't just grow on trees (see previous post for more commentary on this one) and before you know it, it's 3:30 pm on the day you are slated to leave and nothing is completed - a few (mostly) clean clothes are slopped into a travel bag awaiting their friends and some toiletries, the dirty dishes have taken to death rite mourning because they've given up hope of ever being washed, there are more crumbs than tile on your floor, and you are so tired you can't breathe. And you haven't eaten lunch. Or breakfast. Number Three poops bright blue (why?? how??) and Number Four launches an ocean of mustard into his carseat (see previous post for an explanation of "mustard", too ). You run him into the shower to hose him down and your vigilant daughters point out there is inexplicably a BEE in the shower. A bee. Seriously. (insert here the two most asked and least answered questions in my existence - why?? how??) The Mama Bear Rage starts flowing and I scream my frustration at this impudent insect and trap him in a broken plastic cup against the side of the stall and now scream in victory. Number Two runs and gets me a sheet of paper so we can cap the cup and release Stupid Bee into the wild, but Stupid Bee is apparently smarter than Smart Melted-Cheese-Brain Mom and he escapes into the great beyond of the house, which results in the girls screaming in terror (lots of screaming these days) while I turn my attention back to naked, starving, poopy Four who is screaming because he is, well, naked, starving, and poopy.
And now it's 5:00 and Josh arrives home to find things in pretty much this state. He is, of course, disappointed and silently screaming, but he's a gentleman so he doesn't scream out loud, just starts doing dishes and helping the kids with their chores. He doesn't scream out loud, that is, until he discovers Three has once again pooped blue (I really don't know how this is possible. The dog food she eats is brown and the play doh she last consumed was safety green. Blue poop is very improbable.) and then attempted to take herself to the toilet, where she horror-movie smeared it all over the bathroom and herself. He cleans her up while I continue the never ending process of collecting the entire house so we can leave town for three days. Finally, FINALLY, we are on the road and making decent progress. We stopped at McDonald's for dinner, which didn't quite live up to its I'm Lovin' It campaign, since they failed to give Number One a toy in his Happy Meal. Still though, it's going okay until Number One very definitely stops lovin' it and tells us he's feeling really sick and his stomach really hurts. We pull over to let him vomit, but apparently his digestive tract suffers from stage fright and waits until we're all tucked back in the car, warm and safe and I'm sitting next to him to help hold the bag and comfort and calm him. Then all of a sudden, buh duh buh buh daah, (that's the McDonald's jingle if you can't tell. Inserted here as a display of cruel irony.) the I'm Lovin' It food comes back to haunt all of us, down poor One's shirt and pants, his giant comforter, his sister's comforter that he was borrowing as a pillow, the floor, his seat, and my comfy travel yoga capris. Oh.My.Heck. NOT Lovin' It. This "break" I asked for is melting as quickly as a KitKat on a summer dashboard. Let me just drive home this point one more time. It's 11:30 pm. We've been in the car for five hours. I'm sitting smothered in my son's vomit and his sister is still not asleep because she's crazy and now she's gagging from watching the excitement in the back seat and also from the McNugget-y smell. And all this is happening on the trip I wanted to take as a break.
Alright, back to the action. So One is now completely exhausted and passing out, the late hour, illness, and small bit of Dramamine that stayed in his system all now taking their toll. As best I can, I peel him out of his clothes, wrap him in a still-clean blanket, and send him to sit in my recently vacated passenger seat. Not the safest place for a 6 year old, but it's clean and he can sleep there and if we would have been pulled over and the officer had taken issue with it, one look at my crazed, sleep-deprived, sputum-covered self would have been enough to send The Law running the other way. I turn on the back light and begin scrubbing everything down with baby wipes and Lysoling stuff (we keep Lysol in the car after the last time someone vomited on a road trip) and trying to contain it in the giant trash bag we thankfully had with us. Unfortunately this is all taking place while I am standing in only my t-shirt and a gray pair of panties, the inside light highlighting my rumbly, post-baby body in all its lumpy glory. Lovely.
So that's how our "break" started - with no real "break", although it did end with KitKats, because it was Easter, and tiny KitKats are exactly the right size to fit into a regular plastic Easter egg...just in case any of your Easter bunnies were wondering (and kids LOVE them. At least my kids do. Number One broke out into a spontaneous KitKat rap: "KitKat, KitKat. Everyone loves KitKat, KitKat," complete with breakdancing and everything). And although we no longer love McDonald's, we do love each other and that makes the trip and memories worthwhile....once the stench wears off.

25 or 6 to 4

You know that show 24? Of course. Before we had kids, Josh and I had a Christmastime tradition of marathoning entire seasons of the show when we went south to visit our parents. Josh's brother always had the latest season on DVD so we'd spend too much of our school break drowning in the tales of Jack & Co. Although I enjoyed this excessive period of sloth and junk food, I always thought the show was unrealistic. Not even in the obvious ways like how people and vehicles blow up and then unexpectedly return to gloriously blow up again a few hours later. No, I'd just watch and think, "All that happened in an hour? That much stuff never happens in an hour. No hour is so dramatically and ridiculously filled with unexpected things/horrors. The only thing that happens in my life in an hour is that I've slept one hour longer thanks to a super boring investments lecture. These writers have no idea about real life." (Isn't it cute how much we thought we knew before we had kids??)
Enter: motherhood time warp, where the days are eternal but the years gone in a blink, where in the space of an hour you've acted as nurse, cabbie, tutor, pacifier, referee, chef, and Mom-come-play-with-us-right-now-you-have-to-be-the king cobra but also you haven't had time to shower in $% days because a substantial percentage of your minutes is spent convincing poor Number 4 he'll survive if he's set down for more than 6 seconds.
And now, to the delight of the Fates who were apparently listening and snickering behind their fingers during those ironic pre-kid hours, I spend one thousand percent of my days awash in this bizarre space-time continuum where normal rules don't apply and little makes sense that we call parenthood. And I have days like this: (cue suspenseful theme music and explosion montage)

1:00 pm - I begin fixing my lunch, two hours ahead of where we usually are. Hooray!
1:04 pm - Number Two begins pooping
1:06 pm - Number Two begins crying, asking me to come wipe her, something she's been doing on her own for two years
1:08 pm - I reassure Number Two that she can do it! Go team! You're the best woohoo!
1:15 pm - Still working on lunch, Number Three pees on the floor, through the panties-no-not-diapers-I-won't-wear-diapers she insisted on today
1:21 pm - I discover aforementioned pee in a large puddle, help Number Three use the potty, and clean up the world
1:32 pm - I resume lunch prep
1:35 pm - I again reassure Number Two, who is now screaming nonsensically that she cannot do it Mom I can't do it just come wipe my bum there are wipes in here and toilet paper just come do it for me
1:44 pm - I attempt to eat the lunch, now 45 minutes into the setup of a 5 minute meal
1:49 pm - Number Four starts crying, trying to outweigh the shrieks of Two, who has deteriorated and is now sitting poopy-bummed in the hall with her face in her knees, Mom I can't do it I'm just a little girl I can't I'm little come do it just come do it
1:51 pm - I simultaneously encourage and try to ignore Two and also scarf down lunch at lightning speed
2:00 pm - I reach Four to discover he is smothered in a smushy yellow goo of his own making and that it's already staining his new adorable outfit (this is especially concerning since outfits that are either new or adorable are somewhat of a novelty in our house) and has also soaked into the couch and his pillow
2:08 pm - Four, now shiny clean, also decides he's starving like he's never before eaten in all his life
2:16 pm - Two realizes the futility of her struggle and finally emerges from the bathroom clean and requesting immediate-no-Mom!-teach-me-now-you-can-do-it-while-you're-feeding-CJ and elaborate instructions on how to execute the line dance from Footloose
2:30 pm - Time to pick One up from school, so Four decides now would be a good time to unleash another uncontainable tidal wave of mustard (by "mustard" I mean poop. If you don't get it, you don't wanna know, take it from me.)
2:38 pm - We frantically sprint out the door, chuck everyone into the car and hit the road
2:40 pm - Two screams desperately that JJ isn't buckled Mom and I immediately pull over to correct this epic oversight, only to also discover that in a mindless stupor I evidently put panties back on her the last time she wet through them and now she's wet herself again. in the car. while stowing away on her brother's seat that is now sopping and stinking wet and now I have to move her to her actual right car seat, getting it all wet and nasty, too, so we'll just put a grocery sack on top of One's seat and that'll have to do until we get home and oh my heck we are so late they're going to think we're not coming and they'll give poor Judsen away to a proper home and do you think they'd consider taking one of  the others instead how about the one who just peed everywhere twice in two hours and what am I saying just drive Woman, drive!
2:54 pm - We return home with Number One thankfully returned safely to our care. I clean up the van, carefully make sure all the going-in-the-car stuff is returned to the house and begin counting my children, just to reassure myself everything and one is in its proper place. Of course, Number Three is missing and I run out to the (still open, nice going again, Mom) garage and discover she has streaked down to the road, across our thorn-infested gravel driveway, barefoot and naked except for a diaper and her snuggle blanket.
3:03 pm - Three comes around the corner with a face both shameful and smug and I find she's has filled her freshly replaced diaper with poop and has it smeared on her hands and body
3:04 pm - I let out a war whoop, not so much at my filthy child as at the universe who must think he's freakin' hilarious, cart Three off to the shower and start a load of laundry
3:15 pm - A spontaneous brownie and dance party breaks out and darn it all, I enjoy it. When every day of your life feels like an episode of 25 (it's like 24, but with an extra hour thrown in because everything takes longer when you have to do it with between 6 and 4 kids - it's hard to keep track), you have to take what pleasures you can get.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

To Grandmother's House We Go

So we traveled for Christmas this year. No. Stop it, you. I know, I know you know what's coming. You know how it is, being trapped in the moving metal carcass that is your minivan that also feels like it will be your tomb because how on Earth can we possibly survive a 13 hour cross-country road trip with three small beings, two big ones, one that is unborn but perhaps the wiggliest of the bunch and enough stuff to delight a small third world country and we haven't even had the holiday yet.
But anyway, we made the trip and now I will describe to you how it went. Wipe the tears of mirth from your eyes and enjoy.
It began innocently enough, with seven straight viewings of The Ultimate Collection of Bugs Bunny Classics and some conversations about road signs. Number One proudly sees the yellow diamond and announces, "That says elk must live here." I ask him how he knew that was an elk (we don't see many; we live in the middle of the desert) and he ponders this for a moment before answering honestly, "I don't know. I guess I'm an expert." Seems about right for a six year old from 45 miles outside the US-Mexico border.
The fun continues (you knew this was inevitable) with an emergency I-have-to-pee-right-now-and-no-I-can't-hold-it-yes-I'm-willing-to-go-on-the-side-of-the-road-yes-I-promise-I-really-will-go-not-like-last-time potty stop. We pick the best location we can find in the middle of nowhere, an innocent-looking exit, and let the troops out. It isn't until Number Three is 30 yards away and shin-deep in mud that we begin to discover that the entire place is a swampy pit. But at this point, Number One is barefoot because he can't find his shoes, so he's peeing perched on a pokey rock but not far enough away from the car, as we now realize because his rather impressive puddle is adding to the general murkiness of the ground we're trying to navigate only now it's super gross because in addition to being made with melting snow, it's also made with Jud's pee and he's upset because his feet hurt and "I keep peeing all on my pants!" and he can't get back in the car by himself and Number Three is now trying to climb the wildlife fence she's found and is getting dirtier by the second so Josh goes to chase her while I help Number Two use the facilities. I lift her out (she's also barefoot because apparently NO ONE can find their shoes) and take her to the opposite side of the car, hoping conditions will be better over there. But overhearing us talking about the mud, she's refusing to put her feet down and is clinging to my arm like a spider monkey while I help her pull her pants off and encourage her to pee while dangling precariously from my limbs. This might have worked but then we realized that the empty exit wasn't quite so abandoned as we thought and so many cars are still driving past and Josh is hollering to put her pants back on while he wrangles Swamp Thing. Two is so distressed by the audience and the nakedness that she never can relieve herself and Josh gets back to the car with Three, in the process nearly tripping over the dead deer corpse rotting not five feet away that in all the hullabaloo we didn't notice but now it's filling our car with a horrible stench and as Josh stuffs Three in her car seat he tries to escape the deer and stink and mud he does end up bashing his already-broken-from-a-previous-adventure-but-that's-another-story toe and falls into the driver's seat howling and trying to wipe away mud. I'm pretty much in the same state, except that pregnancy is insane so I also start giggling deliriously and chalk it up to the worst rest stop ever.
How about lunch? 
Not in a state of mind to make any sort of impressive impression, we opt for fast food with a play place. Two eats her food miraculously well and goes off on greater brightly-colored plastic adventures. One makes it about halfway through his lunch before moaning, "Mooooomm, my heart is really tired of nachos. And my heart has never let me down." How can you argue with that as a parent? By all means, don't let me be the one to wreck your hopes and dreams. Go. Play. So Three (who is a growing almost-two-year-old) decides to scavenge the remains of her brother's cheesy chips, after polishing off her own quesadilla. All is going well until I steal one of her many remaining nachos and she freaks out. "Hey!! No!! I want one!!" You have one, Jay. "Hey! No!" In her tirade, she knocks more chips to the ground so we scoop them up and throw them away, but this just incenses her further. She scrambles under the table and attempts to climb into the trash can to rescue her poor babies. While she's distracted, Josh also eats one, but she is a woman on a mission and will not tolerate anyone sharing what she's rightfully stolen. So she pulls herself up on the bench and begins yanking Josh's jaws open in an attempt to fish out the chip he's just swallowed, all the while protesting the injustice of the world against a helpless lady. Oh boy.
After that there are only a handful more minor incidents, like when we're driving through a local polygamist colony - one of the remaining few in the United States - and Two, motivated by only the cows around us know what, begins announcing determinedly and happily, "This is my town!! This is MY town!" Um, Felic, perhaps you might wanna choose a new town. "Nope! THIS is my town! I wanna live here." Oh man. Thankfully for us she is far too spirited for her application for citizenship to ever be taken seriously, so we distract her and the rest with a few more rounds of Bugs Bunny, and finally we make it to Grandma's house. Hooray!
Because we are us and entering and just sitting and chatting would be out of the question, Two attempts to ride a TV box down the stairs, knocking her sister bloody in the process, Three shoots off the back of the treadmill at full speed, thus further bludgeoning her poor face only one day before her birthday and three days before Christmas. Because who doesn't want their two year old to look like they've survived 10 rounds with the world heavyweight champ? Yikes. One regales Grandma with the whole litany of weapons and warriors he knows about and she, being the ever-impressive woman she is, remains interested, all while making peanut butter sandwiches for the whole clan.
And now it's bedtime, let's go have a bath, and Two and Three literally begin climbing the walls of the bathtub (if I step on this soap ledge and this shampoo bottle, I can almost make it), despite my insistence that it's not a good idea, so we now decide that throwing cups of water around the bathroom shouting happily, "Let it snow!!" would be a good replacement activity. One is upstairs still, now reading The Little Mermaid to Grandma, which leads to an in-depth discussion of eels and the pros and cons of each different species. Grandma, loving to the end, compliments him on his reading and encourages him to come to bed and Grandpa says good night and show me in the morning all the awesome wrestling moves you know.
Whew. But at least we're here, with the opportunity to celebrate a beautiful holiday with the people we love most. And that's something worth even a drive like the one we just (barely) survived and will attempt to do again in a couple weeks. Wish us luck.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Body Issues

So, I'm pregnant. Wahoo! Also, I'm pregnant. Aaaahhhhh!!! That's my body screaming in terror. Poor thing. I don't blame it. Pregnancy does a number on this bag of skin and bones our rapidly deteriorating brains call a home and mine has been through a lot lately.
I was dancing with my kids last week. Dancing quite vigorously to a rousing rendition of Eye of the Tiger. The children were not having good success in finishing their dinner so we decided some peppy music would be in order. The good news is that it totally worked. We did some shuffling and some rings-around-the-rosie and some air guitaring and before we knew it the dinner was consumed and everyone was full and happy. The bad news is that when we put the kids to bed shortly after that, I could no longer walk. The old gray mare sure ain't what she used to be and every muscle in my critchety, expanding body seized up, sending sciatic pain ripping through me like a tornado, and condemning me to an evening on the couch cuddling frantically with a hot pack. I guess Baby was mad that we were dancing happily without him and he was forced to be sloshed around inside against his will. (The disclaimer here is that we don't actually know if it's a "him" yet, but I hate referring to my baby as "It".)
A couple days later, we continued to learn about the joys of a pregnant body while getting ready with my daughters to take them to school. I tell Number 2 that I just need to use the bathroom and then we can go. She gets super annoyed, throws her hands on her hips, and points out, "Mom. You went potty already." "Well, yes, honey, but when you have a baby in your tummy you have to go potty a lot," and then we're launched in to a full-scale explanation of how the baby presses on your bladder and what's a bladder and oh it's a big sack that lives in your body and collects your pee like you collect lid-less markers and rocks and junk mail and other unidentifiable items and now you're looking at me with a bewildered expression so we'll just say that the baby squeezes the pee out of you when you're a mommy and I don't know if this is better but it certainly is an idea that delights you and seems to satisfy your curiosity even if you are permanently scarred from wanting to become a mother so we can finally get out the door to school where I will once again have to use the bathroom so that I can go work out without wetting myself or at least not very much.
A couple more days later and I need to run into the other child's school - Number 1's elementary. I am feeling good about myself, fully dressed at 7:45 am, carrying in 40 water bottles to donate to the school's jog-a-thon, doing my civic duty and being clothed like a decent person while I do it. Heck to the yeah. I drop the water bottles off and wonder why the office staff still stands there staring at me expectantly, but like all good stories I don't find out the reason why until I get home and look in the mirror to admire my admirable reflection. It is at this point that I discover the giant streak of chocolate (where did it even come from at this hour??) that is clearly and unabashedly highlighting my only-this-large-during-pregnancy-much-to-Josh's-dismay cleavage from top to bottom. Classy. No wonder they were all staring at me, not expectantly like I'd thought, but like I was a chocolate buffoon and with sympathy and horror for the poor children being raised by me.
The fun is still not over. Fast forward to today and we are getting ready for church. I don't "get ready" all that often, so this is sort of a big deal. To celebrate the occasion, I decide to wear fun hot pink tights that will look really cute with my dress when I'm done, but take a fair amount of effort to put on. Poor Josh walks in during this process and gawks at me stuffing myself into these tights like a sausage trying to shimmy into its own casing, with an understandable amount of horror, but he knows enough by now not to say anything. Number 3, on the other hand, has no such hangups. She just waltzes in, takes a look, and says, "Ew." Glanching at myself in this ridiculous get up, I sort of have to agree with her, but we'll just slip a dress on over top of it, pretend we don't own a mirror at home and hope for the best. At this point, halfway through growing Kid Number 4, I'm pretty sure that's as good as it's going to get.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I mopped my floors this weekend, y'all. I know. I know this doesn't sound like a big thing, but for me, it's likely I wouldn't feel better about myself after completing ... anything. Not a marathon, not a jaunt up Mt. Kilimanjaro, not flying to the moon. That sounds overly dramatic but let me explain.
First, a disclaimer. This post is a little break from the norm. It seems every year or so, I feel inspired to write an entry like this, one where I bare my soul and hope for the best. (See June 2012's "I Am A Mom".) So, here we go.
Deep breath. I suffer from postpartum depression. I would use the words "crippling" or "paralyzing" to describe it, but they don't seem sufficient. More like "suffocating" or "all-consuming". More like, "I feel like I live in a sucking black hole and there is absolutely no way out." And here's the kicker: my youngest is 17 months old. She's not that young anymore. The annoying baby blues hornet that buzzes around for couple weeks after you get home from the hospital morphed into a giant, raging dragon consuming everything around it, even after the official "postpartum" period passed.
Here's the good news: in the last four weeks, I have genuinely started to feel consistently better, like for the first time in over three years, I have more good days than bad ones. That is a triumph. Just a few days ago, sweet Josh put his arms around me and said, "I'm so glad that the woman I married is back." Oh man. Me, too.
But here's the reality: after my first child, life was good. I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed being a mother, at how fulfilled I was, and interested in stuff, and at just how happy I felt. My house was not always, or even usually, pristine and I was super tired, but my perspective on these things was so positive. I looked forward to the future and enjoyed my present. I felt eager to wake up each morning and give life another go.
After I gave birth to my second, things were much different. This was a fairly stressful time in our lives anyway, as it was Josh's last year of dental school, which meant we rarely saw him. We were trying to make the enormous life decision of which job opportunity to pursue, where to move our little family, how to begin paying off our vomit-inducing amount of student loans, not to mention how to be parents now to twice as many kids as before and continue being spouses to each other through all of this. So all of this is going on and Felicity is a few weeks old and then a few months old. And this whole time, I can't even conjure up the energy to put on a bra, let alone smile. Doing the dishes was beyond impossible, as was menu planning, budget planning, or any other "planning". This time in my memory is so gray, surrounded by fog. I simply was not happy. I remember Josh coming home one day to me standing in the kitchen, surrounded by a tornado-sized disaster and saying, "Seph, you just look beat down." That's exactly how I felt. Like I had been trampled by the Budweiser Clydesdales and their wagon, every day. Even before I shoveled myself out of bed in the morning, I was beat.
But this was my first time dealing with this, and I really didn't know. I thought it was because I was tired, and stressed, and that Josh was stressed, and we were moving, you know? It wasn't until we had moved in to our next home that I began to think there may be an issue. We had been there about a month and I was still struggling to unpack the house. Josh was settled in to his new job and I was overwhelmed again with trying to get things in order. I remember vividly sitting in my kids' bedroom, surrounded with Rubbermaid containers filled with toys, my back to the wall, sobbing. The thought in my head was, "There is no way. There is no solution to organizing these toys. There is no way the house will ever be in order. There is no way I'm going to survive these next five minutes. There is" I remember wondering if this was normal, if everyone was completely and constantly consumed by an inability to do the tiniest task.
I had a small job and that kept me moving forward. I worked about 10 hours a week and my kids came with me and somehow we survived that year.
And then we moved again and I was expecting Number 3. The world was black again. I couldn't get dressed, I couldn't get my kids dressed, there was nothing. Jaylee was born and we were happy to see her and loved her so much, but the depression didn't lift. We bought a house and moved again and again, I couldn't do anything.
When I look back at this experience, sometimes I think the only thing I will be proud of about how I handled this experience is that I didn't stop. My kids still got to school, they ate food every day, and we made it to church most Sundays. Sometimes we even went to play group.
I did not face depression with grace; I'm not sure what doing that would look like, but I'm sure it wasn't me. I laid frozen on the couch, feeling literally that my soul was being devoured, that I would implode at any moment. I had to; life could not go on, feeling so sad and desperate and hopeless and paralyzed. I writhed in bed, under the weight of this beast, the knowledge that I am not good enough at anything, that people are only nice because they feel sorry for me, that I am a complete waste and failure. I slogged through trips to the grocery store, putting things in the cart without fully being able to think through my purchase decisions and hardly able to see the people around me; tunnel vision was very strong. So much energy was being put in to this swirling vortex of awfulness, that there was little left for physical functions.
There were thoughts of suicide. I didn't experience these after giving birth the second time, but they came hard and fast after the third. I am not a person given to many physical vices, thankfully  -  I don't smoke or use drugs or drink any alcohol. These things are not available in my home at all, which is a real blessing, because for the first time in my life, the temptation to use them until I fell into oblivion was not only real, but tangible, as a physical craving. I am not a violent person, but new and horrible ideas of self-harm crept up. I wanted to do whatever it took to get away from these dark feelings, from being crushed to death from the inside out.
I believe in God; I prayed to Him during this whole experience. I wish I could say that the heavens opened and He beamed His love to me like a ray of light and I was cured. That did not happen. I felt like my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling, that I was being bound and gagged and asked to do what's right anyway. I could not feel the divine inspiration that comes to every mother as she strives to raise her children. When people did tell me I was doing a good job at something, it felt like a cruel joke.
I saw a therapist, a psychologist, tried several medication solutions. I walked around in a medicine-induced fog for seven months, my brain entirely unable to solve problems or think anything through thoroughly.
I tried physical exertion. I worked out ferociously and instead of feeling better, found myself sobbing through the workouts.
I watched my friends accomplishing normal things, running a 5K, cooking dinner for their families, showing up to play group wearing makeup and having their hair nicely groomed, and I could not possibly fathom how I would go about doing the same thing. While I was around them (or anyone) I felt stupid and lame and weak and like the charity case friend.
A weird thing about all this was that so little of what I was experiencing was actual reality. As Josh put it once, I live a princess life. We live in a comfortable home, Josh has a stable job, everyone in my family is relatively healthy. My marriage is good. We have food on the table. On paper, things were perfect.
Josh was there for me. Always. He talked to me and held me and listened to me cry. He was endlessly patient. He tried to help me through things.
In some tiny corner of my brain, I knew that. I knew I was lucky, and yet, in my reality, in what I saw and felt and experienced day-to-day, there was nothing happy or golden. Life had no luster or sparkle. The demons were relentless.
As I mentioned earlier, things are finally improving, for which I am endlessly grateful. I mopped my floor. I went for a run. I organized my medicine cabinet. I managed my home while Josh was gone for five days. Each of these truths feels so momentous I literally want to stand on top of this computer desk and scream my delight to the skies.
I'm not sure why I'm posting this. I don't really want to. I don't really want to share my dragons with everyone.
This entry is not intended to induce guilt or pity or thoughts of "I should have helped", "If I'd only known", or anything else. It is not anything. It is simply a statement of what was.
I hope that as you read this, it doesn't feel like it applies to you. I hope you think, "Wow. I really can't relate. If something needs to be done, I just go do it, even if I'm tired. Life is hard sometimes, but that's fine."
But I guess in writing this I'm hoping that if you do relate, if you have experienced some of these same things (whether caused by pregnancy or anything else in the world), you know that you are not alone. I don't know if that helps you. There are times it wouldn't have helped me. But maybe it will.
After going through this, there are a few things that I know, and hopefully they help. 1) You are not alone.  You're not, even when it absolutely feels like you are. 2) God is there. I don't know why sometimes it feels like He's not and I don't know yet quite what I am supposed to have learned from this experience, but I do know that He is there. 3) Just hang on. When it feels the worst, just hang on. You don't have to swim to the lifeboat or even kick. Just hang on to the lifeline. When it feels like there's no hope, just hang on.
I went through this while surrounded with endless support and blessings, way more than I deserved. If you are experiencing it without someone to lean on or while the world is falling apart around you because of a job (or job loss) or health or family crisis or anything else, you have my deepest sympathy and prayers in your direction. Hang on. God is there. You are not alone.
When you can't have hope, I will try to have it for you. Because someone and Someone had it for me. And now I am feeling better. Not every day, but on a lot of days. And that is something to be grateful for. And shout for joy about. I mean, I mopped my floors. Isn't that great?!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

You know those days that you pop out of bed, excited for life and all you're going to get accomplished that day, and then your kids step in, shaking their heads and saying, "No way, Jose. We have a full 12 hours of fighting, whining and general house-wrecking planned. You ain't getting nothing done today." And you're sitting there forlorn, thinking of any argument, "I'll make you cake for breakfast. No, seriously, look at this pound cake recipe. Doesn't it look good? It does? Yes, Mommy will even put it in muffin tins so when anyone asks you about breakfast you can tell them we ate muffins, like we are decent people who don't raid the Our Best Bites dessert section before 8 am."
And then before you know it, the muffins are devoured and the little rascals are carrying on with their evil plans anyway, arguing and thrashing and pulling out all the toys you, in a more organized life, cycled into the garage, to be pulled out in a few months after putting others away, creating a mess so awful that when Hubby gets home he asks, "Wow, did they have friends over? No? How did they do this all themselves in just one morning?"
So you use those few chaotic moments to launch a productivity sneak attack, but your children find you and holler, "MommyIwannahelpyou! MommyIwannahelpyou!" and they're stealing the scissors and unraveling all the ribbon and taping everything in sight and then tattle on their sibling who is mimicking their every move, but it's not bad when I do it, only when she does because she gets in my way of torturing you, Mom.
And now it's time to get ready to go, and Number 3's diaper smells as if a giant crack in the Earth has opened to reveal several new sulfur deposits, so you hose her down and try to do Number 2's hair. As you're wrangling these unrepentant strands, Number 1 begins crying with an unusual amount of alarm, "My nose is bleeding!" A bloody nose is not unheard of in our house (this may come as a big shock to you), so I don't think it's going to be terrible, but I try to get in to him quickly anyway. I am wholly unprepared for the blood splashed all across the tile, filling the bathroom sink, and literally gushing from my poor five year old's honker. His eyes are terrified and he's crying and trying to keep things together with a wimpy Kleenex and Number 3's crying because I put her down and Number 2 is bouncing, trying to see around me so she doesn't miss any excitement. We get some ice and a washcloth and get Big Brother settled trying to stave off the flow, while the girls and I mop up the blood a little so poor Judsen doesn't get freaked out every time he looks around. I'm trying to keep him calm and get the disinfecting spray and clean up and make sure he knows he's not going to die and prevent Felicity from blinding herself and her sister in her exuberance to help me with the Clorox.
Finally most of the blood is sopped up and we sit on the couch for a brief reprieve of cuddling and Curious George.
Now that Judsen's feeling better and everyone is mostly calm, it is time for us to attend our obligations, which we are at least 45 minutes late to. These go fairly well, except for JJ's terrible twos rehearsal, in which she throws a spectacular fit something, I drank too much milk, the dog doesn't want me to stand on her, your rice is in a brown bowl and mine is know.
We get home all ready for a nap, but before I can even make it into the house, Felicity comes running, "I'm sorry I made a big mess with the noodles, Mom." Fantastic. I walk in to find an ocean of dried rotini swimming in the hallway. Judsen has found a jumprope from somewhere and is attempting to either lasso the pasta or slingshot it across the house; it's hard to tell. JJ is alternating between punting it around and ice skating on top of it, which sends her crashing to the floor. Felicity is making an honest attempt to sweep up, but she's small and the broom's big and it's much easier if I just stir the noodles around.
Ok. Pasta crisis dealt with, now for naps. JJ's down, but the big kids decide there's no deal if we can't first sneak out of bed several times for an impromptu game of Ants in the Pants.
After naps, it's time to prepare for swimming lessons. Josh blessedly arrives home, and apparently JJ was as happy to see him as I was because this was another big chance for her to freak out about something. Wahoo! As I herd the older two out the door, she abandons Daddy, muffins, and Martha Speaks to come prostrate herself at the entrance to the garage and cry.
Swim lessons are great, up until the part that we try to go home. Both kids decide they definitely have to use the bathroom before we get in the car, so I say a little prayer, send Judsen into the boys' locker room and go with Felicity to the girls'. She gets in her stall and as I'm waiting for her, the women's swim team from the college comes in. Now I'm trying hard not to send eye daggers and I-hope-you-gain-80-lbs-and-miles-of-stretch-marks-when-you're-pregnant thoughts towards their tiny, tan bodies, because that simply would not be kind. So I turn my attention back to Felicity, who at this point, has been in the stall for 20 minutes, pooping, pirouetting with her swimsuit around her ankles, and redecorating the place with shredded toilet paper. Oy.
We hurry out because I am genuinely concerned that Judsen has been on his own so long, and to my greatest fear, he is nowhere to be found. I wait a few minutes, ask the pool staff, ask a guy going in to the locker room, look outside. My baby boy is not anywhere. Oh my heck, oh my heck, oh my heck. I head outside one more time and hear a faint, "Mom!" I look across the parking lot and in relief (and terror and a little anger) see him lounging near our van. A nice lady who was just leaving noticed our situation and helped hustle him back to me. He had gotten worried and didn't know what to do, and because "it was taking you forever in there and I thought I saw a person that was you by our car", he walked out the door, crossed the parking lot alone and "a car almost hit me" and waited next to the van for us. Oh, goodness. (The one bright spot here, aside from him being okay, is that we had a very good discussion about what to do if that ever happens again.)
Now we're home and I sit for a minute to relax and let the adrenaline and horror seep away, and the girls decide it would be a perfect time for a WWE smackdown on Mommy's lap, so they're wrestling each other and grabbing my glasses and kickboxing my tummy. Flight wins out over fight and I jump up and sprint into the bathroom, hiding on the toilet and locking the door behind me. Aaaahhh!!
Thankfully Josh is a wonderful human being and decides it's Peanut Butter Jelly Time. You know this time. Things get so hectic and Mom's losing her marbles and we still don't know what's for dinner, so Dad busts out his days-like-this special: PB&J.
So I come out, a little calmer and ready to make a little appearance at a bridal shower. I laugh and have fun with the girls for a bit, bring some cake home to my kids, at least one smears it all over the pretty white shirt she was wearing, and now we're having showers and all going to bed at 8:30.
And maybe tomorrow I'll wake up refreshed and composed. Or maybe I won't and we'll have Peanut Butter Jelly Time again. All I can say is, bless you Mr. Jif and Mr. Smucker. And Josh. Always, bless you, Josh.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Airport

Kids at the airport. I could probably just stop there, because I'm sure you're already thinking what I'm thinking. But you know me, I'm not going to stop there. Let us keep commiserating together about our experiences with kids at the airport.
Now, I'm not even talking about flying with kids. I've done it, flown by myself with the munchkins, trying to keep them strapped in the stroller until the exact right moment, then hauling you, them, and all their stuff down the gangway, attempting to keep them somewhat muffled during the flight and hoping beyond hope that no bodily fluids make it into the rows in front of or behind you, and then the bathroom on the airplane stops working before you're even in the air, and, like the comedian Brian Regan says, there's apparently only one tool in the known universe that can fix it and it's in Madagascar, so you drive around the runway at random for over an hour and the flight attendants can see your crew getting restless so they smuggle you extra pretzels and bottled water. When you finally land, the airline has lost your luggage, and as you wait in line to talk to them about it, one or more of your children poops their pants and sticks their hands in it. No, I'm not talking about that.
I'm taking about simply having your children at the airport. I did this recently. We were there to retrieve my sister, whose flight was delayed by a little while. Figuring it was better to go in and wait for her than sit in the parking lot watching the 50th rerun of Sesame Street's The Great Numbers Game, we made a break for it. No, of course I didn't have a stroller. Or snacks. Or even a tiny sippy cup to keep us entertained. That would have been far too responsible and/or prepared to be a good Sephonnie Elliss story.
We made it through the parking garage, down the elevator, and across the road into the actual building itself, the kids looking around and taking everything in with huge eyes as if this is their first time on Earth, and me repeating incessant instructions to stay together, hold hands, wait for your sister, no please don't pull her arm, and don't walk away where you can't see me. We enter the family bathroom stall to all relieve ourselves. This, of course, involves reverently touching the paper towel dispenser and upon learning that it does what every other automated dispenser in America does, doing the cancan in front of it so it begins emitting miles of white paper. And then we need to flip the light switch on and off as rapidly as possible, unlock the door, ask over and over if I can go outside and just wait by myself because I'm a big boy and no one will take me because I know karate, and also sing perhaps the ABCs and some favorite church hymns at the top of our lungs.
Once we're through with the bathroom, the running ensues. We run around around the luggage carousel (Mom! Is this like a slide??), run into the lost luggage office shouting Hi! Hi! (I'm sorry, no. My 15 month old does not need to file a complaint. Carry on, please.), run around the waiting area chairs (Felicity, try to catch me!!), run around the luggage carousel again (Mom! Now can we use it as a slide?!), run under the Caution! Restricted Area! tape that is cordoning off a broken carousel, and finally just nestle against its side because we've all decided we want to hide from Aunt Shanelle (who is the person we are there to pick up and who has yet to make an entrance). Except now actual baggage is starting to pop up and swim around on this thing that Mom said wasn't a slide, but look at those suitcases riding down it, and maybe Mom doesn't know what she's talking about. JJ reaches out her arms and pumps her little legs to try to catch hold of one and let it take her in circles and Judsen begins hollering because he's afraid she'll get hurt. But now that's boring and let's play tag again and hey! yay! there's Aunt Shanelle, but we haven't seen her for a while, so now all the running is coming to an end while Felicity dangles between my legs trying to act shy but also get Auntie's attention at the same time. Judsen is hiding his face in his arms, but continues to run around like he's some sort of jungle warrior who feels camouflaged because if he can't see us, then we definitely can't see him. And JJ remains oblivious to the arrival of one of her favorite people because darn it all if she's not going to catch one of those bags and have it take her for a spin before this night is over.
The point is, kids are awesome. Traveling with kids is awesome. Not traveling with kids is awesome. You're a mother, so now and forever anything you do with your children can be considered awesome. Right? :)