Oct 13, 2015

The other side of motherhood

I sat in the glider, gently rocking, the lights low, my son asleep on my shoulder. His head turned towards me, I leaned down, softly kissing his cheek, breathing him in.

I felt my eyes welling up and I took a deep breath, because if I started crying I wouldn't stop, and I worked too hard for bedtime to wake him. 

My eyes were shimmering because I am grateful, yet overwhelmed, desperate, but contented.

I am constantly amazed at how much I love this little boy. 
I am also blown away with how much harder this parenting thing is than I ever could have imagined. 

I'd felt more emotions than I thought possible in two days.

I had a full day out of the house with Parks and still managed to fit in my pumps - I had so much fun being out and feeling like a functioning member of society. Within 24 hours, he started cutting his third and fourth tooth, and went from happy, to clingy and screaming and fussy. Ben and I were both exhausted, which resulted in us snapping at each other and apologizing later. We tag teamed it, but Sunday I finally hit a wall - I was exhausted, P was cranky, it was one o'clock in the afternoon and all I felt like I'd done that day was pump and then try to get him to sleep. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

Ben was making me a snack for when I pumped, and I was in the living room with Parks, trying to keep my eyes open. Parks was shaking a rattle and because I was close to him, accidentally hit me in the face with it. It didn't hurt, but I started crying. It was the final straw.

When Ben came out, I was sitting on the floor of the living room, my face buried in my hands, sobbing. He asked if I was okay and I said no. He was going to work in a couple hours and the day before me seemed endless - several pumps with a clingy baby, and I wasn't sure how I would cope. 

I had priced non-dairy formula a couple weeks prior to keep myself motivated for pumping, and the cost was insane; five days worth of formula would run us $300, and that wasn't even a whole week! But lately it was having the opposite effect - instead of thinking, "look how much we're saving," all I could think was how expensive it was and I absolutely HAVE to keep pumping because there's no way we can afford that.

I felt trapped.

I told Ben I needed a break - a real break - and it felt like I was never going to get one as long as I was pumping. I'm starting to see pumping as something I resent instead of something great that I'm doing - all I keep thinking about it how much time it would free up, and how I'd be able to physically be with Parker more. 
And yet. That formula. The cost is insane, and we definitely do not have $1200+ to spend on it every month.
Ben ended up taking Parks to his parents' house before he went to work, and my in-laws not only watched him, but brought him and dinner back to me that evening. (I will never stop being grateful for our amazing family). I laid on the couch and tried to lose myself in shows on Netflix. I dozed for awhile but it's like my body wouldn't let me fully relax. 
Anytime motherhood seems hard I have to fight what I've now dubbed the "infertility mindset," because my brain almost instantly resorts to, "This is what you wanted for years - you should be grateful."
So that night, as I breathed in my sweet boy and nuzzled his cheeks, I let the joy and the despair wash over me.  
I am grateful for you. I'm sorry I can't do everything. I will try to have more patience because I know teething cannot be fun. I'm sorry pumping takes me away from you so much, but your chunky thighs are the sweetest thing ever. I'm sorry I need breaks from you, because with working that means less time with you overall. I love you. I don't want to wish this time away - you'll never be this little again - but sometimes it's really hard to enjoy it. 
Why does no one talk about this? The other side of motherhood - the side where your heart feels like it's going to burst with love and stress, all at once? I can only imagine how the worries will evolve as he gets older.
I snuggled him into the crook of my arm, not caring that it was starting to fall asleep. I opened apps on my phone and started mindlessly scrolling, trying to keep the tears at bay, and I came across this post. The title - When Love Feels Heavy - grabbed me by throat, and I found myself nodding and nodding, and breathing a huge sigh of relief.
When I got to this part, I gasped.  
"The thing about this kind of love, though, is that it can feel heavy. Disproportional. You may feel like you will nearly break in half from the top-heaviness." 
Yes. Yes. So. Much. Yes.
But even as I was reading it, I was thinking about how my house constantly looks like a disaster zone, I can't remember the last time our clothes were put away, or there weren't three different things to potentially trip on walking into our bedroom. There are always dishes on the counter, because now bottles take up the sink, and there are days when I just want one thing to get finished. Then I read this: 
"And, I beg you, embrace that things will always feel unfinished. Let unfinished be okay. Let unfinished be enough." 
It's like the post was written for me, and there's something so comforting in knowing so many other mothers have felt the same way. 
"And forget what you see on Instagram,
You are one hell of a mother."
I shared the post on Facebook, and then put down my phone. I gently rubbed his back and reminded myself he wouldn't remember the hard parts of today, so I shouldn't punish myself for them. I whispered what I say to him every night. "Good night Parker, Mommy and Daddy love you." 
Tomorrow is a new day.


Brittany said...

lady. lots of love and hugs. I wish we lived closer, I'd bring over takeout and a bottle of wine and commiserate about this mama shit. it's hard. it gets better and it gets harder but it's all worth it. hang in there. xoxo.

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I wrote this same post (far less eloquently) when Max was 5.5 months. Literally, I just went back and looked and there was something about my "break" involving carrying around a pump, pumping and washing pumping parts... and maybe wanting to thrown the pump off a building. For me, it got way better after this low point. Once Max started eating solid food someone else could feed him without me having to pump and that was life changing. I'm not saying it's not still hard... today Max is sick and he has already had 2 colds and it's only mid October and I NEED TO GO TO WORK and so does Eric and how the flip do people do multiple children? BUT, it really does get better. In the meantime, we all love you and are here for you. You are doing a GREAT job. Really. The best job ever.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Kudos to you for another honest, real post. I am sure that it will resonate with others that have been in your shoes. I think it's hard to talk about the tough part of parenting - or the tough part of anything that we really want in life because you feel like people will be like - 'yes but isn't this what you wanted?' But just because you really want something doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to talk about how hard it is. I think being a parent is by far the hardest job a person can have. I know you are doing an amazing job and that P is so lucky to have you and Ben in your lives. I'm so glad you have supportive parents around you to pitch in when they are needed and to offer extra support.

I'm sending lots of hugs and love your way!

Nora said...

I need to remember this when the girls are here next summer: "And, I beg you, embrace that things will always feel unfinished. Let unfinished be okay. Let unfinished be enough." I am always hounding myself for the dirty laundry or the piles of camp stuff or all the paperwork that hasn't been done/filed. I also think that this reminder can apply to all kinds of situations: work, relationships, etc. We need to soak up what is around us, forget the rest, and oh boy is that so hard!

And yes to what Lisa said. Just because we want something doesn't mean we can't lament when it is hard. People talk about how tough marriage is (at least to each other, not always in open forums) but no one seems to think THAT is bad. What you are doing is so incredibly selfless and challenging, rewarding and tough... I think you are rock start and I love you! <3 (Same goes for Ben!)

Leigh said...

Loved this post so much! You summed up motherhood so well. There are days that you are so freaking tired that you have zero patience and your child wants nothing but you. I had one of those days on Monday and said to my husband...I love her, but I don't want to be a mom or be needed for just a couple minutes. It made me feel terrible saying that, but I was able to realize I needed a break, regroup and come back to her as a better mom. Hang in there, the days do get better :)

Non Sequitur Chica said...

We all need breaks, no matter how much we love our kids. Remember to be easy on yourself and take care of yourself- your hormones are still running around in your body- especially because you are still producing milk.

Check your insurance to see if they would help you with the formula cost. And remember that you can do it halfway- pump and supplement with formula if it would make your life easier. Whatever you do it will be the best thing for your family.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Unfinished is my life's motto haha. Well actually, sleep how sleep will happen and do what makes you happy, damn the minor details. Cuz taking care of yourself is the most important part of being able to be all the roles you need to play.

Amber said...

Totally understandable that you need some breaks. Parenting is HARD enough already and then you add on that you are working full-time AND pumping full-time and oh my goodness. I'm glad you found that blog post right when you needed it. You are doing an amazing job as Parker's mom. xoxo

RosieLart said...

Motherhood is hard i agree, but if you do some breaks its okay, personally i write my blog between the parenting and it really helps me,you can read my articles https://kovla.com/blog/what-s-motherhood-in-life-of-russian-women/ here if you want, enjoy!

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