Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Sometimes, You Just Have To Keep Going
I'm so sorry for my rather long silence here. It's been busy, busy with my day job and kids and it being summer, and I haven't had much time or energy for blogging. But I'm brimming with thoughts, so hopefully I'll have some articles coming at you one after another for the next few weeks, if things calm down.
Last Sunday night was one of the best nights I'd had in a long time. GI didn't wake up an unreasonable amount of times, and in between I felt like I really got some good sleep. Monday, he took two great naps, and I got tons done while he slept. I was highly optimistic for Monday night, as a result. Instead, he literally did not sleep the entire night, and, thus, neither did I. It was after 6:00 a.m. before he (and I) finally dozed off, and by 7:00, I had to be awake for the other two kids, breakfast, etc. I don't know why he was awake. He wasn't fussy, didn't seem to be in pain, wasn't playing. He was nursing, nursing, nursing, eyes open. It felt a lot like the night back in December where I drank several cups of cream soda at dinner, not realizing that it was caffeinated, and then simply lay there the entire night, not asleep but not fully awake, either. I'm certain I hadn't given GI any cream soda that night, though...
Needless to say, Tuesday was rough. But, I couldn't just take a day to rest and veg a little. No, Tuesday we had an appointment with SB's speech therapist, whose office is about 45 minutes away. I had promised the kids to visit a neat cafe on the way back, called Java Mama, which is a coffee shop specifically catering to parents with small children. They have gourmet coffee drinks, yummy food for adults and kids, and a supervised play area for the six-and-under crowd. It's pretty fantastic, but it's far enough away that I don't go there unless I'm in the area anyway or have a meeting or something there. The point is, we had things to do on Tuesday, so I had to swallow my fatigue, bury my exhaustion, and power on. We made it through the day, even through a thorough shopping at Walmart, and got home in time to make dinner. And that's when I crashed. I opened the pantry and couldn't fathom the idea of cooking dinner. I could feel the muscles in my neck and arms twitching. I'd had it. I'd exhausted my reserves (what little I had). I gathered my wits enough to pull out a box of potato pancake mix and whisk up the batter. I set out the first batch to fry and had to go sit down. It was like that for the entire dinner-making: flip pancakes, sit down; remove pancakes, put on next batch, sit down; flip, sit. I finally brought a chair into the kitchen so I could sit down between bursts of activity. It was that bad.
I so looked forward to bedtime. I'd put the two older ones to bed, nurse down GI, who would surely be tired enough to sleep well, and go to bed early after enjoying the quiet for a little while. I always take time to enjoy the quiet; it's what keeps me sane sometimes. Only, when I finally did go to bed, I lay there, eyes open, not quite awake but not really asleep, for at least four hours. Seriously. Not okay.
I did get some sleep, eventually, and GI slept his usual way, waking frequently to nurse but sleeping in between, so if I had also been asleep, it wouldn't have been any worse than I'm used to at this point. I couldn't fathom how I could be lying there awake for hours upon hours when I was that tired, but lay there I did, hour after hour.
Things were back to normal Wednesday night, and it's been basically fine since. I don't know what was keeping him up on Monday night, and I don't know what kept me up on Tuesday (the extra shot of espresso at lunch, maybe?), but it happens sometimes. It's part of parenting. Sometimes, you have a sleepless night or two. Sometimes you're sick. Sometimes you have a million things to do and all you want to do is lie down. But as parents, as mothers, sometimes we just have to power on. We don't get sick days.
There's no secret to it, really. I get that a lot lately, "How do you do it? You make having three kids look easy! I don't know how you manage with the baby and the other two, and make dinners and work!" and so on. Hey, I bask in the occasional compliment, when the mother at the park mentions how polite or cute my kids are, when the manager at a restaurant is amazed by my corralling all three at once, when a fellow parent is envious of how fast I can get all three into the car and buckled up. But if they ask how I do it? There's no secret. You just do it. You just do it. You don't have a choice, so you just do it. Got three kids? Hold the baby, have the other two grab some part of you or your clothing, and start walking across the parking lot. Put the baby in the shopping cart and the littler of the other two in the cart basket and go. Give the oldest a job to do, like grab items from the lower shelves. Bring something for the older two to do while the baby gets his checkup. You just do what needs doing. And I don't really think I'm such an expert. I get impatient. I get irritated. I handle things badly, especially when I'm tired. I think it only looks incredibly difficult to those who have fewer kids than I do.
When we have some bad nights, I try not to think in terms of "trends." I don't say, "Oh, it's been better lately," or "The past three nights have been horrible!" I take it one night at a time: "Tonight sucked, but tomorrow will be better," or "Wow, what a great night. I feel so much better today." I have the luxury of knowing that it will eventually be decent most of the time, even though that time seems very far off right now. I think that for first-time parents, it's harder, because you don't have that perspective.
Just keep going. Enjoy the silence when you have it, enjoy the sleep you get, and think how fleeting this time really is in the grand scheme of things. I've gotten through 10 months. I can go a bit longer.