The Rut

Just after my dad died, I was out for a smoke and started walking a sort of labyrinth pattern into the snow, making a path in a spiral and back out through the center again. I walked it over and over and ended up taking a shovel and digging it deep into the snow, and it became a place for my daughter to run around and play. But I would pace around it when I went out for smokes by myself all the time.

We made it outside today! After being reminded by a few people, I finally remembered to actually make use of my wrap and the baby slept while I was wearing her, when I couldn’t have otherwise put her down… Derp. So she stayed sleeping while I helped the girls get dressed and took them outside. And while we walked a circle into the snow, and started pushing the snow around to shape the beginning of walls because they wanted to make a snow fort.

She stayed sleeping while we came inside, while I made them lunch and cleaned up lots of our main living area. I got so much done!

We had a lot of company today. My mom came to visit, and some friends with their kids. The girls got so much attention and got to play, and I got to catch up a bit and have some company, and someone around to hold the baby and help her stay sleeping.

It was a little hectic but so nice, and most of the mess we made was clean (cleaned by my friends son mostly!) by the time everyone left.

But as soon as everyone had gone, and the sun began to set, it was mayhem all over again, just like last night. I guess I expected it this time, but I didn’t handle it very well.

My baby started fussing instead of just nursing and sleeping, and my toddler dumped all of our vanilla extract out on the counter.

Then she spilled yogurt drink all over herself, then after I cleaned her up she spilled more on the couch and on the floor.

And after I had cleaned that up (while the fussy baby is crying, waiting for me) my toddler wandered off without her pull up since she’d slipped it off with her yogurt splattered pants.

She snatched a toy from her big sister enough times that my oldest freaked out so much that she hit herself in the head with a little mirror somehow. And shrieked in my ear, while the baby was still fussing.

And a little while later the toddler came back to let me know that she pooped in the other room.

So again, I had to leave the fussy baby crying out to clean her up. And there were bits of poop across the floor. I yelled at her to not clean it up herself, multiple times, because I didn’t feel like I could get to it and she kept trying to go towards it with some wipes… Ugh.

So somehow after all of that we all managed to calm down. I didn’t manage to get supper started, but the poop got cleaned up, and I picked up all the clothes we’d been looking through earlier.

We had a sort of lazy supper when Drew got home and took the girls outside a bit longer afterwards, so at least we all got some air and they got a bit more exercise and space to play.

Bedtime is late again here but the girls helped us clean up toys and things this evening and they’ve been quiet and calm as they settled down.

I’m thinking about help, feeling provided for. Part of me still feels like I should be doing more now, exchanging directly, giving more back. But I am so grateful to everyone that listens to me, reassures me, everyone who has brought me things, taken me places, come over and tried to help me manage the house, and sent needful things from afar.

It feels nice to know so much is taken care of when I can’t stay on top of everything myself, or between Drew and I. It still feels strange though, lots of questions of deserving are coming up for me. I feel pretty loved anyway… I still feel anxious and get mad at times, sunset especially apparently, but I feel like I can actually enjoy our little family and the people we know and love more again. I don’t feel so stuck in my ruts.

DON’T PANIC

I had written here previously that I wondered what this newest child would teach me. Well so far, it’s been how to ask for and accept help.

We had a bit of struggles adjusting to life at home with our newest addition – colds all around, trouble figuring out sleep for everyone, keeping things clean. But it was overall going well, better than I expected.

But then right when Drew had to go back to work, after his two weeks off, I started to panic.

Initially it was a health concern I got really intensely focused on. I started to panic about that and was worried about it all day the first day home with the kids by myself.

And later that evening I was still feeling physical panic attack symptoms even after I wasn’t worrying so much anymore.

At some point I gathered that I was experiencing postpartum anxiety. I managed to reach out to some friends and family I could really trust and talked to Drew a lot, and after a couple of days I went to talk to my OB about it at my two week check up.

She went ahead and wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant for the anxiety, without me having to make much of a case for myself.

I felt loads better just after talking to her about it. So I’ve been taking these meds for about a week now. No negative side effects so far, no panic but still having some anxieties, odd depressive symptoms, bouts of frustration that I’ve come to realize are usually a reaction to anxieties and fears of not having control.

So now I’m looking at my whole life like I need to rearrange it, make it something I don’t so desperately need to have breaks from or escape from. How I can really take care of myself regularly, instead of in urgently needed stolen moments. How I can get to feel more supported again, and build more supports for my kids besides just Drew and I.

And as I look back I think I experienced this after both my other kids too, but not quite so intensely. I can see now how the pressure built up. Uncertainties and fears, trying to keep things under my control as much as possible, blossoming into frustration and anger when I just couldn’t keep things under control (as my middle wild-child has been breaking me open in her own way).

I’m looking at my whole life through this lens and realizing that a lot of my trouble probably has had anxiety behind it. Or depression. Maybe both, it’s hard to me to draw a line right now.

So, since starting the medication I have felt a lot better than I did when the panic first hit. But I still have my moments. And this afternoon was one of them, and after the struggle of it passed I decided I really wanted to write about it. It’s harder now that my head is not in that place, but I want to try as it seems important.

So, the light starts to fade here pretty early these wintery days. The living room was slowly getting dimmer as it only really gets light when the sun shines through the windows.

The kids were starting to get more antsy, whiny, uncooperative, loud etc as children can tend to do in the time of dinner prepping.

The baby has been extra fussy for a few days, presumably having a growth spurt, and needing to be held and nursed very often. So I felt like I was quite glued to her for most of the day.

So within the frame of about an hour, here are some of the things I experienced:

The toddler pooped in her pull up but wouldn’t let me change her for a long time. But started asking me to when the baby had woken up again, when I really couldn’t get to it, and was not sure when I would be able to.

I noticed what looked to be mold all around the bottom edge of the living room windows, because they’ve been getting so much condensation or something… The wood on the window bench looks to be rotting around the edges. And I thought I should really clean that off, and started but had to stop and wash my hands and pick up the baby again, because she had woken and started crying again.

I had to wipe up splattered yogurt drink that went across the room when the toddler put some marker lids in the bottle, then tried to shake them out. The same marker lids I’ve been struggling to put back on the markers all day so the markers don’t dry out, because they’ve been keeping the kids busy.

My oldest kept asking for snacks but not telling me what she wanted except for things she couldn’t have, and often when I couldn’t easily get up to grab her anything because I was trying to get the baby to stop crying or trying to get her back to sleep. When not immediately satisfied, my oldest has taken to making great loud screeching noises as of late.

I had to leave the baby crying in her bassinet for a couple minutes to sweep up some glass off the kitchen floor, after I jumped up and ran in after hearing a smash to pluck my toddler from the glassy terrain as she had just dropped a small Pyrex bowl on the hard floor and was about to step on a big piece when I came in the room.

I wondered about supper, wondering how many days one can realistically buy supper, at what time I might be able to start cooking supper, or if I would ever be able to conceive of cooking supper at a decent time again…

 

And this time of day is one that I know to be tricky. It’s not exactly surprising to me that it might be a struggle.

But for some reason it just really got to me today. I’ve been having more friends and family come by to help and to visit, and it makes me feel so much better and makes some things easier. But I dread this time of day now. I think that’s the time when the panic really set in on that first day home alone. And that’s a time I really don’t want to be alone, but everyone who might be able to help me through that is either working or starting to make dinner for their own kids.

And that really bothered me too for some reason, that in these isolated homes we can end up so separate at a time that would probably go so much more smoothly with more people around to share the tasks or guide the children through.

So I sent a big rant to my mom, and among the things she said, she mentioned my baby carrier. A friend mentioned it earlier too… So i brought it out and tied it on myself, ready to go… But the baby kept sleeping in her bassinet anyway.

I managed to start cooking supper. Lit some candles in the dark and dreary living room – only having to relight what the toddler blew out a few times.

I did get the toddlers pull up changed. And I ended up wearing the baby while we ate supper, which did get finished at a half decent time.

And I did manage to finish cleaning the window ledges – not spotless but sprayed and wiped in a way that seemed sufficient for now.

And the girls settled down eventually. Not an early bedtime tonight,  but not a huge struggle.

And here I am with a baby sleeping on my chest with a bit of time to sit and write.

So… I guess the hard times still pass. I feel like I can only look at one day at a time right now. There’s so many things I want to work on. So much routine and rhythm I still want to build. And I’m not sure how much of that is important, how much of it is just a hopeless struggle for control…

 

But, we made it through this day. Drew and I got to catch up with each other ever so slightly,  but in a needed way, I got to visit with a great friend and our kids got to play, and the girls actually played very well together most of the day, and entertained themselves very well. I didn’t have the TV on as much, so when it was on it was like a novelty again. The house is not spotless but isn’t a complete disaster, I found a bit of time to clean up some of the many toys scattered around…

I guess that’s all I have to share for now, perhaps I’ll have more structured and purposeful tales to share next time. There is just so much that wants to come out!

Out of Control

So, I’m about 37 and a half weeks pregnant. Third child… So this is not completely new to me, but since I first learned I was pregnant I’ve been worried about stacking more and more on top of the struggles I’m still having in adjustment to becoming a parent to each of my first two children.

I have learned a lot. So much. And that list is growing all the time, still. My first opened up a lot of lessons about trust – in myself, in her, in the world around us. My second has compounded that with lessons in patience. Both of them together teach me so much about surrender and initiative, communication and support.

And there is still so much I don’t know, so much I don’t have figured out. And I expect that is the way it is meant to be,  in parenting and in life. It just seems the lessons and the challenges come packed so much closer together in the early childhood years, with so much on the line and so little time to adapt.

But I have grown a lot, too. I think the greatest thing I’ve noticed lately is that I am growing into the uncertainty and lack of control that I must allow at times. And I don’t welcome it very often still, but I’m learning to recognize that it’s unavoidable, and I’m learning more about all the parts of myself that still want to resist. And one at a time or sometimes in many ways at once I am learning to heal, to tame and to teach those parts how to deal.

But here I am, nearing the end of my third pregnancy. Thought I had finally reached the plateau after a long climb towards discipline in routines and housekeeping, clearing space so that I could do the work required each day to keep from drowning under half finished chores, neglected personal projects and plentiful requests for help and attention.

But now I’m tired. And just today, I feel my body has stretched past it’s threshold for this extra weight and the work I was trying to do with it. And my back is starting to hurt, and my legs and my feet have been so stiff and my body doesn’t want to do the work anymore.

And this could mean that labor is imminent.  I feared it was coming last week, but I’ve been hoping for it any day now. Or it could mean that I have a few weeks to spend not being able to bend over to pick up the toys and the clutter, or load the dishwasher, or pick up little bodies wanting to feel close…

And if that is the case, I’ll be in for many days of watching rather helplessly as all the work I’ve put in to make my house feel tidy enough for my mental well being is undone. Watching things pile up again, falling behind after finally crawling out of that place of feeling like I was perpetually catching up, but never quite getting there.

And there is something poetic about that for me, that as I grew more worried about how I was going to physically keep up with the tangible work that needed to be done, that I will be forced to surrender to complete inaction and just have to deal with it that way. That makes sense. I know that’s one way that I can be forced to make peace when I’ve been fighting with myself.

But it doesn’t seem fair, at all. Because I do think I was stressing just a bit too much, but I’ve really needed the discipline and the results that I was pushing for. I really needed to know that I could keep things up. I really needed that much clear space and order to make myself feel like I could handle this, like I am indeed cut out for the life that I have taken on.

I really need the energy and drive to get my kids to bed at a decent time when I start to burn out at the end of the day. I really need to know that I can have some time to reconnect and decompress at the end of the day, without staying up into the wee hours of the morning and wearing myself down.

I really need the ability and the will to finish things that I start, to clear things up when I am done with them to avoid intimidating, stress triggering piles of “how will I ever get through that?” so I don’t have to worry so much about the necessary messes of play and of life.

And I really need the patience and the presence of mind to clear up the extra at the end of the day so we can have a fresh start each morning. To notice what is working and what isn’t so I can respond accordingly and keep everyone’s needs met and everyone feeling taken care of and loved.

I didn’t really know how to achieve all of that without pushing so hard.

And all the things I now suspect I am being asked to let go of, are all things I thought were really important to help me get through this next challenge of keeping on top of everything I was before with yet another little person in the mix.

And it just doesn’t seem fair.

And now I wonder just what lessons this little one will lead me to, as I think of all I’ve learned and worked on in preparation for her arrival already.

This next part might be very hard, before she even comes. Her early days might be a relief or they might be the thing that breaks me right down. I’m not so sure those hard breaks are such a bad thing, now…

Because apparently I don’t really know yet how to pace myself, when to let go and how to prioritize. I know I’ve made leaps and bounds with that just recently, but…

Here I am now, very pregnant, tired and sore and feeling quite helpless and frustrated. And life just goes along anyway. Somehow we eat and play and fight and make up and love and go to sleep anyway.

I guess I can relax into that for now, but I really hope that I have truly learned from the work I’ve been recently practicing, and that it won’t be that hard to pick up again once my body and my mind have recovered.

And I hope that letting things spiral just a little out of control in the meantime won’t make me feel like a failure anymore.

Grace

Studying the magic of compassion,

I grant myself grace

And I keep all of my worries

In a secret hiding place

But sometimes, they build up a bit too much

And I must sort through

And weigh each mix of feelings

And sift out illusion from the truth.

I’ve been parenting myself so much,

My kids can benefit, too.

I’ve mastered cleaning up after myself,

But still there’s more to do.

I’m trying to stay aware of what’s most pressing,

Make the most of time,

And trust that my best is enough

To sail through snags and come out fine.

And I have found some new success

With things I once did struggle with,

But still a fear clings deep inside

That if I stumble or I slip,

Or if I rest a bit too long

Or cut myself too much slack,

That all I’ve built will tumble down

And knock me off my fresh laid track.

And it’s easy to feel lonely, now,

Or like I haven’t time for much,

But I feel a growing urge deep down

To soothe myself and keep in touch.

So much pressure I’ve applied,

Such a fire I’ve lit under me,

I’m not sure what will be left

If I’m not pushing myself forcefully.

But I’ve been studying compassion,

And I grant myself grace.

And I’ve completed much already,

And this was never meant to be a race.

Mabon 2017

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I was catching up with myself, and I feel so much closer now, like I have it at times.

But it still takes a big push here and there, and periods of climbing and climbing, balancing, juggling. Layering each accomplishment on top of another there and trying not to let them all fall, because the work I am doing now is training new habits, new routines, new rituals.

I’ve never accomplished much with spring cleaning. Sometimes I feel the urge a bit, but after a long winter, when the air grows warm and I can see green again I just want to go outside and play.

But the fall is another story.

Before I settle in for winter I do a lot of space clearing, in preparation for being nestled in with nowhere else to go for months and months.

Now on Mabon, on this Autumn Equinox, I am seven months pregnant, in the thick of a magical undertaking and some personal transformations, and I am following the seasons so much more closely.

And leading up to this day I’ve spent a lot of time and energy pushing to get to the bottom of the clutter in the house. Pushing to get to the bottom of my reluctance to wash the dishes and fold the clothes. Pushing to find my balance between time and space for myself and serving the people I love, and myself, with actions of home making full of care and attention.

I’ve gotten so much done, compared to the mayhem that used to creep in whenever I let my guard down months, years past, I now feel like I do not have much more catching up to do. I can maintain while I finish the last little details. And I really feel like I can keep it up this time.

But I am so tired. So worn down, I’ve worked so hard. And while I appreciate the result of my efforts in the state of my home at least, on this day of thankfulness I found myself feeling a lot of lack that surprised me.

I realize I have not tended my friendships like I used to, perhaps before I had kids, and I have difficulty now reaching out to others when I need them, or having them serendipitously show up at the right time. It’s a bit like we’re all a little distracted by our own whirlwinds.

And I haven’t been the most patient, the most encouraging with my kids lately, pushing them to just fall in line with what is easier for me, and I felt the fallout from that today, too.

I was so excited to celebrate my own harvest, to share the merriment with my family and friends. But I noticed a lot of what I didn’t do instead.

And I suppose along with counting my blessings, which I still intend to do as I think it is so important and I know they are many, I need to listen to all that is creeping out of my shadows to be heard. As the days grow shorter than the nights from here on, I need to work with the hidden and hurt parts of myself, my fears and my failures, just as much as I need to bask in my achievements and the luck I’ve had.

So that’s my wish for myself tonight, and for you too should you want it – that we may find the balance between the pleasures and the pain in our lives. That we may see the value in the challenges and mistakes as well as in the success and the comforts. That we may recognize and accept both sides as they appear to us, without undue judgement or avoidance.

I wish that we may be open to the wonder that is there for us to enjoy, and that we be open to experiencing our sorrows as well, without getting stuck there.

I wish you all the best as you turn into your own cozy dens of winter, and I so look forward to emerging refreshed and inspired once again in the spring.

Blessed be!