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!

Faeries and Monsters

I used to believe in faeries. At least, I think I did. I know I wanted to.

I haven’t told my daughters that faeries are real, yet. I don’t want them to think that the monsters they imagine are real, too. Like I used to.

I remember hearing tales of pixies in the tree leaves, and of hell hounds in the forest at night.

I spent a lot of time dreaming, playing, enjoying, but I remember a lot of time spent worrying and wondering, too.

And some things don’t really change. Maybe they concentrate with age. I see a lot of fear in myself, still.

And I haven’t been believing quite so much, and I haven’t been playing quite enough.

I’ve been worrying and wondering about the monsters.

About the ache in the space where I used to be connected to my magical family tree.

About the time with them I missed that left me hardening my shell for the sake of survival.

About the anger that rises up inside of me when I don’t feel like I have everything figured out and running predictably.

About the fear of not measuring up and the difficulty in admitting that by asking for support.

And mostly, so often, I am worrying and wondering about my kids.

Why they are suddenly whiny, why they are annoying each other, why they can’t just share, why my oldest panics when things don’t go her way, why my youngest can’t just leave some things alone, why they both want my attention when I seem least able to give it, why they drag their feet getting ready, why they run away when I try to talk to them….

And I think, well, it must be that I have left the TV on a little too much, and I condemn myself a little.

It must be because this place is so cluttered, they can’t relax, and I feel frustrated with my inability to get on top of the never-ending mess.

I think, it must be because of all that junk food, maybe I should have made lunch a little earlier, they haven’t been eating enough greens… and I wish I had more talent and passion for food, that I could prioritize it.

It must be because they lack consistency, they went to bed too late, and I struggle to force us into a rhythm only to fall back out, again and again and again…

And when I blame the TV, I turn it off suddenly and in anger, in a great big huff.

And when I blame the mess, I rant angrily about how they have contributed to it, how they can’t seem to help enough.

And no matter what external condition I try to point the finger at, my discomfort is coming from deep inside. A pile of crumbs, a junk food lunch, those are not monsters. And what I am really lashing out at when I try to fight those things is my kids. And they are not monsters…

It’s been really hard grieving and doing this healing work while being a mother to young children.

And I catch myself feeling like I need to work so hard, strain, live up to these expectations to insulate us from harm, from fear, from uncertainty.

But the monsters still come.

The only thing making my kids act out is me. My disconnection, my anger, my impatience. My monsters.

And they don’t really need a beautifully orchestrated daily rhythm, the greatest of all foods made from scratch all the time, a tidy minimalist sanctuary, or a world completely free from media to feel content and happy.

They need me. They need me to be present with them. To accept them, to accept their feelings. To accept the ways that they show me what they need, however messy. To care for them. To stand firm in the centre of the bad days and bad feelings, and to play and to laugh with them, without fear.

My children need me to show them all about the faeries.

And I need for my children to help me remember that they exist.