Wednesday, March 30, 2011

march: a review

I'm so lost in my own head these days that I hardly know what to even say here, unless I just pick up mid-sentence, right where my brain left off, and dig in.

March has been ... difficult. It was supposed to be the month we came back to our old routine - work two mornings, playgroup another morning, grocery stores and whatnot in between - and I endured about two weeks of meltdowns, the velocity of which have never been matched in this house, before I came to my senses. There may be someone in the world who can have a new baby and two impressively energetic little boys and work two mornings a week and go to the grocery store and keep her composure, but friends, it ain't me. I got in over my head, thinking we could just jump back into "normal" life again. That "normal" is gone. Now we're looking for the new one.

Two weeks in, and I realized I had to slash our schedule. No more playgroup for now, and errands that cannot be accomplished through a drive-thru are out. I also realized we had to - HAD TO - get a handle on the feral behavior of the boys. There was one morning a few weeks ago where I felt as though I was being videotaped as the "before" scene in Nanny 911. We are not wolves; we can, must, do more than howl and hiss to communicate with each other. As I tried to understand what in the world was creating such havoc all of a sudden, the answer became clear - it was me.

I was the problem.

My kids missed me. We had spent late pregnancy and early infancy just trying to get through the day, and that was what we had to do in that moment, but that moment is over. My job is about more than meals and baths and the next appointment; if I'm not building a relationship with my kids, then the rest of it is useless. They didn't need additional toys or friends or playdates; they just needed their mom.

Since that realization, life has improved, slowly. We've been to the zoo and the park - not to meet friends, but just to play together. We've eaten our dinner in the backyard and roasted giant marshmallows (did you know they made such a thing? So fun). When I turn on a movie I sit down to watch it with them, rather than automatically opening the computer or loading the dishwasher. Everybody still has to wait their turn (because sometimes the baby just has to eat, and so do I), but after crashing so spectacularly a few weeks ago, my focus is shifting. I'm trying, at least.

This morning began with rain and tantrums and a certain two-year-old who threw his eggs on the floor and lost his breakfast as a result (no worries; he had a pb&j "snack" an hour later). By 8:30, the living room was coated in blocks, and nerves were running thin. Rain or no, we had to get out of the house.

So we did. I loaded everyone up with no clear idea of where we were going, but out was better than in. I threw extra shoes in the car, and after an hour of meandering, we found ourselves at a local nature preserve. By then the rain had slowed, and under the canopy of trees I began to remember who I am as a mother. I spend my days with them not to keep a tidy house or to hang out with friends, but to have the time to follow the road where it leads. To pick up rocks and watch the worms underneath, or spend half an hour marveling at the way bamboo trees sway. This is who I am, and this is what we, as a family, do.

Besides, among the clutter and noise of a life indoors, moments like this never, ever happen:

So here we are, regaining our footing, and learning how to function as a family of five. It's slow going, but we're getting there. The days are not always hard, and not always easy. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.


Danielle said...

That was one of the best posts I've read in a long time. You have such a way with words that I often find myself shaking my head in agreement throughout the entire piece. Your words aren't sugar-coated but yet I find them so juicy and they have me coming back for more.

I need to take heed to your recent discovery and realize that a lot of the stress I face is because of no one other than myself. I don't have to be perfect - my kids will never know the difference. They will, however, know the difference if the whole Mama isn't really there.

Carrie B. said...

beautifully said and surprisingly enough one of the more difficult lessons of motherhood for me. we are the same way and often cut back activities to find our this is a good reminder for me right before kaia comes. =) when i'm in the crazies in a few months, hopefully i will remember this.

Kendra said...


Stephanie, you are inspiring.

It's interesting - and grounding - for me to read posts like this...posts of yours. So many people would see the "feral behavior" as something they needed to correct with more discipline. And at times, that is what's needed I'm sure. But it's refreshing to recognize that often we have more control over what's causing the chaos than we had thought. Simply being able to acknowledge that what's trying to be accomplished isn't working and YOU making changes to adapt, as opposed to expecting young children too, can be priceless.

Thanks, as always, for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This may very well be one of the most beautiful posts you have ever written. I love the line, "This is who I am, and this is what we, as a family, do." :)

Amy... said...

Been meaning to write on here for such a long tell you how much I LOVE your honesty. You are refreshing. Thanks so much.

Lisa said...

I came to a similar revelation recently. With lots of kids in the house and me trying to get other stuff done, Olivia starts acting out. I need to give her more attention. It's hard to admit, but it's true.