Just how hard I’ve been moming

Blippi glasses

I’ve been moming so hard this week, you guys.

Really, really hard. The past 48 hours? Serious parenting. The digging-deep-and-hoping-the-well-isn’t-empty kind. The sort that tests both your sanity and mettle. The variety that we can only hope will generate stories that are funny and bittersweet when our kids are flying to a neighboring solar system because we raised them to be brave and intelligent people who grew up to be freakin’ astronauts.

I miss writing here and sorting out the thoughts that just ain’t fit to print elsewhere. The ideas that aren’t polished and non-embarrassing enough for a column. Those that are too lengthy and likely to be misconstrued in a Facebook post. I’ve basically given up on Twitter, and Instagram has become a catalogue of my children’s random snapshots because I’m tired and feel it’s increasingly complicated to think deeply about . . . anything.

I find myself filtering my observations into soft, bite-sized portions because they’re easier to digest — for others and me. Becoming a mother is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done — mentally, physically, spiritually — and I had no idea I would become the anxious, loving, complicated mom-beast that I am. It is a truly 24/7 job with no ability to punch out.

Still, here we are. Oliver is now three. Hadley is one. Spence and I will be celebrating five years (!) of marriage this fall. We have settled into some routines and are working on establishing others. Ollie talks nonstop (“Mommy, look high in the sky! It’s an AIRPLANE! Did you see the airplane? Mommy. Mommy. Mommy! Did you see it? It’s GRAY! A gray airplane!”) and Hadley, impish and sweet, is working on walking. When they’re both on the move, God help us.

I’m approaching the one-year mark since I joined the world of health care marketing and public relations after my decade in community journalism. Which means I’ve been freelancing for almost a year, too. A year of writing at 11 p.m. with one eye open (and sometimes both eyes closed). That’s almost 100 columns that I pulled from the shattered remains of my energy after the kids had gone to bed.

I write because it matters to me. Because, for so long, it defined my identity. It was my identity. Before I was a wife and a mother and even really a grown woman, I was a writer.

It was never my intention to take such a long break here. I said that last time, I know. But the column has a deadline, and the pressure keeps me motivated. Without that same constraint, I get lazy. Also: have I stressed that I basically run on caffeine and a painful, irrational fight-or-flight instinct that saturates just about everything I do?

Right.

Remember how I’ve been moming so hard?

DSC_0075.jpg

Yesterday Spence and I signed our lives away to purchase a new vehicle. I agreed to 10,000 stipulations without doing any research because that’s just apparently where I am right now. While committing us to five years of payments, my son — thick in the middle of the toddler “I must do absolutely everything myself” phase — dumped apple juice all over my lap.

In the middle of the finance manager’s office, yes. Sticky, warm, wet apple juice from my waist to my (exposed, flip-flop-clad) feet.

Ollie was stunned. Spencer and I were stunned. The young finance manager was definitely stunned. I saw no family photos adorning his sleek, orderly desk, so I can only assume he has no children. For a moment I thought he’d knock a few hundred off the price in exchange for all the free birth control we were doling out, but we left with the bottom line intact.

Our sanity? Not so much.

The vehicle we were buying? A van. A minivan. The one that will, undoubtedly, be covered in those stupid pinwheel-like caps from the squeeze pouches of yogurt — strawberry only — that Oliver, an insanely picky eater, just about survives on. A good family van for Hadley to store all her favorite critter books and schlep my 576 bags from Target much easier than my 14-year-old sedan.

Buying that van somehow felt more daunting than taking out the mortgage on our house. When I learned the offer on our place had been accepted, I literally could not sit at my desk for fear of being sick. I took a 15-minute break at work that turned into an hour because I found my mom at a coffeeshop and whipped myself into a complete frenzy.

Massive debt will apparently do that to you.

We got home with the van at 8 p.m. last night, and I checked Oliver’s temperature for the 12th time. Normal. But he’d woken up at 2 a.m. in a dead sweat and hollered out for me. I found him standing straight up in bed, red-cheeked and frantic, and the lava-like feel of his skin instantly woke me up and into action. A 102 temp. Juice and Motrin.

He was better by morning and had no temperature again for the rest of the day, but I stayed home — and vigilant. By the time we left for the car dealership that evening, Ollie was starting to fade again.

You know it all just went downhill from there. We had no intention of taking Hadley and Oliver with us to buy the van, but a series of factors made it necessary. In hindsight, I wish I had done anything I could have to avoid that scenario, but life happens. And it’s done.

Within an hour of sitting at the dealership filling out paperwork we’d already taken the long, drawn-out time to fill out online (good times), Ollie was definitely feverish again. He wanted to lay across me — all 44 pounds of him — while I tried to pay attention to a series of up-sells and Spencer fought to keep a wiggly Hadley in his arms.

We eventually got the baby interested in a water bottle, which bought us some time. But Oliver was definitely sick. I’m a naturally warm-blooded person — all my insulation, I guess! — and the air conditioning in the finance office was … lackluster, shall we say.

Ollie was hot enough to be physically sticking to me, and asking to leave every 15 seconds. We were in a room small enough that I could have held out my arms to touch both sides of it. Hadley was repeatedly hollering — with happiness, I think? — at the water bottle, chasing it around the floor. Spence was pretzeled in a corner, forced to elbow Ollie and me to add his signature to the forms.

It was in this atmosphere that we committed ourselves to the van — and I ultimately wound up covered in apple juice. The photos of us with the new vehicle are angled such that it doesn’t look like I actually wet myself, and I thank my husband for that.

A story I’ll find funny someday? Yeah, maybe. I mean, I’m already mining it for material for my dusty blog, so sure.

But last night? Wow. Had. to. keep. my. stuff. together. It was HARD. So hard. So so so hard. The tension of trying to make decisions and negotiate with two young children climbing on and spilling fluids all over us was enough to make me want to throw up my hands, yell OMG FORGET IT and just head for the Canadian border.

We eventually got everyone home and resting, though, and Ollie had no temp last night or this morning. I’ve already chewed up time off work that I really don’t have, and I was selfishly relieved when Ollie was better this morning. With kisses and hugs for the kiddos, I set off for my hour-long drive to work. Spence took them to day care and went to the office himself.

I’d been at my desk for all of 45 minutes today when the phone rang. Ollie was lethargic. Mild temperature. Didn’t want to play. “You don’t have to come right now,” said his teacher, “but if his temperature climbs anymore, I’ll definitely have to call you to take him home.”

“What’s he doing now?” I asked.

“He’s … standing,” she said slowly.

” … Uh, standing?”

“It’s circle time and the kids are playing. Ollie is usually all in there,” she said, “but he’s just standing on the side by himself.”

Standing alone? The kid who never sits, never stops, never quiets? Right. Off I went.

Once I got Ollie home, he was so lethargic, hot and zombie-like that I contemplated taking him straight to the Emergency Department. No parent likes when their kids are sick, of course, but the children having health issues majorly triggers my already-easily-triggered anxiety. In .03 seconds, I can be back in the NICU with Ollie or up late with a wheezing Hadley. I go into triage mode. In some ways, it’s a relief.

I decided to squash down my crazy for a moment and called the pediatrician instead. A throat swab confirmed he has strep, and I spent the rest of the doctor’s visit trying not to gag after Ollie threw up all over me following the throat swab.

I mean, I couldn’t be mad. I remember gagging at those tests myself. He was miserably sick, and I felt terrible for my guy. Thankfully, the fever reducer they managed to get into his system before the vomiting incident did its job: he has been back to himself since lunchtime. The antibiotics have started. And as long as we keep the ibuprofen flowing, I think he’ll be OK.

“OK” includes destroying the house, asking me the same questions repeatedly, refusing to eat or drink anything that is not chocolate milk, and antagonizing his sister to the point of making her cry. Repeatedly.

The only upside to the whole incident? I didn’t drive the new van today. So the disgusting stench of vomit that was embedded in my clothes and Oliver’s is, no doubt, permeating my own old car rather than the spotless new vehicle we brought home yesterday.

The little victories.

I try to see them — always. Just one bite-sized piece at a time.

 

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Just how hard I’ve been moming

  1. Well, helllllo internet stranger! I’d ask where’ve you been and whatcha been up to, but I think this blog post says it all. Hang in there mama! You’re doing good work with those two. Nice to hear from you again!

    • Hi Jenn! 🙂 So excited to hear from you! I feel like I’m returning to the land of the living. To be honest, I have not made myself a priority in any way, shape, or form in the last year, and I’ve realized how ultimately exhausting — and damaging — that is. Hope to be around more. How the heck are you?! Off to mine your archives for news and updates! ❤

  2. Hope your little guy feels better … and that the rest of you stay healthy!
    What a delight to see your post pop up in my blog feed! As a local reader and mama of little people the same age as yours, I’ve been following your column for years and I always look forward to reading whatever you write. 🙂

    • So kind of you, Brie — thanks so much for reading here and “in person,” if you will, haha. Ollie is doing much better and I’m hopeful that next week will find us returning to some semblance of normal. Thank you for coming by!

    • Thanks, Kelly! I try to see the humor in the hard moments, because what else can you do? That hasn’t kept me from being justaboutthisclose to a breakdown, of course, but it does add color to daily life. 🙂

  3. OMG! It is amazing that you can write this incredibly fascinating post with what you have been through! I hope your week end is better! You need a spa day! Or at least an hour locked in your room!

    • Hi Patty! 🙂 Thank you. Definitely doing much better by today. Kids are far more resilient than we are. Oliver is back to his normal antics, and I got a haircut today … so I basically feel like a new person already!

  4. Loooong time no post but as always, you make it worth the wait! Heaps of well dones, what a tough few days but you’re managing admirably and it’s always lovely to hear how you’re getting on!

    C x

    • Hi, Cat! 🙂 Thank you so much. I feel like I’m barely hanging on some days, to be honest, but then everyone eventually falls asleep — me included — and a new day always dawns. 🙂 I hope you are well!

  5. Ahh! You’re back! I’m so glad! Blogging hasn’t felt the same without you. I mean that. You’ve always been one of my favorite blog friends… so welcome back!
    Being a mom is SO hard. Nothing else compares to how hard it is. And I know what you mean, because we are so many things aside from being mothers, but it’s hard to find the time / energy to be and do those things sometimes. Hang in there!
    Also, can’t believe your NICU baby is 44 pounds. He is doing so well!!! Caleb is older than him and he’s only around 31-32 pounds!
    I hope his strep goes away soon… poor little guy. So sad seeing them sick like that.
    Hope to keep seeing you around, my friend. I have missed your writing. 🙂

    • Aw, Steph. ❤ You're the best. Ollie's strep is clearing up quickly, thank goodness, and we've mostly gotten back on an even keel today. I hope to be around much more frequently, too!

  6. What a beautiful family & what a wonderful, typical, special, crazy mom story! Enjoy mini van life – I love it myself!

    • Thank you, Gina! A few days in and I’m definitely loving the space and flexibility to throw stuff in the back and go. Totally not possible with my old car!

  7. Meg, I loved reading your column in The Independent…your column was the first thing I read in the paper! Your blog is just as entertaining to read. Thanks for taking the time from your busy life to share with us. Even though my children are close to your age, your outlooks on life is ageless. Hang in there and share with your readers when you can. This too shall pass sooner than you think!

  8. What a great post. As someone who is feeling the pull of wanting to start having children, I smiled through your post. Thank you for being REAL. I’m glad Ollie is on the mend. I’m a NICU baby, too!

Comments are closed.