Note: I first drafted this post on the evening of the day that is described, but I held the post because I wanted to include it in the monthly Real Motherhood Linkup. I really liked the idea behind this linkup of showing the sides of motherhood that are not usually considered picture or post worthy but are such an important part of the day to day experience of being a mom. Sometimes mothers need to see other moms having those “real” moments too. Go figure, as of this month the linkup has been canceled, ugh. Oh well… I’m going to share the post with you anyway. Hope you enjoy!
Some days, like our recent Sea World trip, are all about having fun with your family and soaking up the many joys of being a parent. Other days, like the days that followed that trip, are about the work of motherhood. Those are the days that really challenge me and leave me physically and emotionally exhausted, but I am still grateful for them. Let me explain…
My son Austin began feeling really sick and miserable the day after our Sea World trip. Fortunately it was a Sunday, so Clint and I were both off work. However, he was still feeling badly on Monday, and normally I would have had to go to work. My new job gives me one day off during the work week to be a stay at home mom, but usually my day off is Thursday. As it happened, I had switched it to Monday since the boys’ school was closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day. So, as tiring as it was being home with a sick baby and a rambunctious toddler, I was so thankful that I could be there to take care of them. All Austin had wanted since he had come down with the nasty bug the day before was mama, mama, and more mama. And I want to be there for my kids when they need me… I am a mom… that is what I do… that is why I switched jobs in the first place… so I can be there. I don’t just want to be there for the fun moments; I want to be there for all the moments.
Are you ready for the play by play of my crazy day? Ok, here goes…
After a night of highly interrupted sleep (Austin’s discomfort from his illness kept waking him up), my morning started off bright and early with the boys getting up before 6:00. The first thing I did was take my baby boy to the doctor’s office to see if he had an ear infection again, which thankfully he did not. Unfortunately that meant there was nothing the doctor could really do for us– Austin was just going to have to make his way through this nasty cold. Parker was behaving pretty well at the doctor’s office, but when the doctor tried to talk to me at the end of the appointment, he got all sorts of crazy. He discovered that I didn’t like him playing with the biohazard trash can, so of course, that was what he wanted to do. I was trying to deal with him, hold Austin, and talk to the doctor, and I felt like a completely out of control mother. It was fun! 😉
I decided I needed to take that little ball of energy to the park. When we got home from the doctor’s office I nursed Austin and loaded the boys and a few snacks and toys into the stroller, grabbed our dog, and we were off. Austin fell asleep on the way there but woke shortly after we arrived. We were all having a pretty good time, and I had finally convinced Austin to let me put him down (if I sat right next to him) to play in the sand, but then Parker ignored my request to stay where I could see him and ran off. So I picked up Austin and chased Parker down. As I had warned him, this meant park time was over.
Austin was happy in his Bjorn on the way home, and Parker fell asleep in the stroller. The good news is I got a little reprieve, but the bad news is having Parker fall asleep at this point was not ideal. If Parker has a short nap, such as falling asleep in the car (or in this case the stroller), then that seems to take the edge off, and if he wakes up (i.e. when you transition him to bed), it is really difficult to get him to go back to sleep. So I left Parker in the stroller when we got home, crossing my fingers that he could take his nap in there. I fixed myself a quick sandwich and sat down to nurse Austin.
Just as Austin was finishing eating, Parker woke up. I wanted to take him straight to bed because I knew how hard it would be for him to get back to sleep if he woke up completely, but he said he was hungry, so I made him lunch instead (which he barely touched). Then I read to him and settled him into bed. Austin was napping, so I settled myself into bed too, hoping that a quick nap might help me make it through the afternoon. I was already feeling pretty exhausted by Austin’s fussiness/ clinginess and Parker’s lack of listening. The good news is that Parker laid quietly in his bed. The bad news is he couldn’t fall asleep. At least I got a 20-30 minute break before both boys were up again.
We played in their bedroom for a little while, and then I had to suck up the energy to go to the grocery store. Normally my husband (the cook in the house) shops for the week on Sunday afternoons, but we were at my parents’ house all weekend, so that didn’t happen. Another complication was that our oven and our microwave had recently died on us, so that meant all cooking must be done on the stove top. We didn’t have anything we could make for dinner that night on the stove top, we were almost out of milk (a staple for Parker and me), and my husband had already informed me that he needed to work late that night, so to the store it was. As awful as going to the store with a fussy baby and overtired toddler sounded, I was glad that I was home so that I could help out in this way.
As you might expect, the shopping experience was your basic nightmare. Austin fell asleep in the car but woke up as we were waking into the store (note: Austin normally takes 1-2 solid naps during the day but was having trouble sleeping because he was sick). Fortunately he sat quietly in his car seat the whole time. I was not so fortunate with Parker though. He was doing ok at first… staying with me and helping me. After I told him he couldn’t have the jelly beans he found though, he apparently concluded the only solution was to run away. So off he went, and I could not easily chase after him because I had a cart with a baby in it. He ran all through the store before he got distracted with matchbook cars, and I finally got my chance to grab him. Of course, he was now to either be holding my hand or carried (definite loss of free walking privileges!), and this is when it got really ugly. He was pulling my hair, kicking, wiggling, taking off his shoes, and I was barely able to check out of the store and make it to the car. That whole scene was the anti-commercial for parenthood and openness to life. Maybe unlike Jen, I am better off staying at home.
I lost it with Parker as I was putting him in his car seat, but surprisingly this led to him getting all sweet, saying he was sorry and that he would listen better next time. Not sure where that came from, but it helped me get it together again. When we got home he was sent to his room for some quiet time while I unloaded the groceries and nursed Austin. Then we played for a little while, I threw on some dinner, and Clint was home… hurray! Parker didn’t want to eat dinner. Austin didn’t even want to eat one of his favorite foods: bread. Clint was home though, so it was all good. Baths were next, bedtime, and then at last… downtime for Jennifer.
It was definitely a real motherhood day for me. Not only was I exhausted, but I also had some serious doubts about my parenting skills by the end of it. Fortunately I was recently given the gift of a word of the year: acceptance, and so far walking more closely with God is helping me be more patient on those real motherhood days. Thank goodness because at the end of the day, fussy or not, crazy or not, I love these little boys, and it is my privilege to be able to raise them.
Bonus real motherhood moment: Parker came into our room at 4:30 Sunday morning saying he had a stomachache, and within 15 minutes he threw up all over our bed. Everything was covered, including the duvet and the pillows, so it was before dawn laundry time. Perhaps it was more of a real fatherhood day though because my husband took the brunt of the morning’s vomit, later ended up with diarrhea on him, and he had to miss the Super Bowl party he was so looking forward to (and had been cooking for). Then again, he recovered by throwing himself his own Super Bowl party with chips and dip and drinks, so don’t worry– all was well– except that apparently the game was not very good. (By the way, Parker was feeling much better later that night… whew… poor guy.)
This post goes out to all the mothers… hang in there ladies… you are awesome!