Sunday, May 4, 2008

Trying to remind myself how green my grass really is

It's hard enough to admit it silently in my head, let alone put it in writing, but I've been struggling, really struggling, the past few weeks with everything.

I'm sure a big part of it is the sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a baby. I haven't had more than four consecutive hours of sleep in months. I don't even remember what feeling well rested is like anymore. I walk around in a constant state of semi-alertness, trying my best to function.

It's affecting every aspect of my life. I've made a few stupid mistakes at work, which eats at me so badly that it screws up what little sleep I am able to get, further exacerbating the problem. I am a perfectionist to a fault -- which usually makes me a good editor and an annoyance to live with. I'm trained to find grammatical errors, but it also means my placemats HAVE to line up with the tiles on the kitchen table or my eyebrows start to twitch.

But lately my placemats are in total disarray and covered with baby toys, which frankly, is like a microcosm of my life right now.

I go from home to work and back again feeling like there's never enough time to get anything done adequately. The laundry. The dishes. Finally getting around to organizing the back closet. Scheduling a vet appointment for Toby. Putting the last bit of Easter shit away. Yes, Easter.

And my personal wants and desires? Like sitting down without interruption to write for more than 20 minutes? Or maybe flipping through the last three issues of Real Simple I have yet to crack open? Or doing my nails?

All that now falls last on the priority list. Which usually means never.

I know it's part of being a parent, working full time at abnormal hours and owning things that need upkeep and maintenance. But it certainly takes its toll.

I've had a few mini breakdowns late at night in my car where I've cried so hard that my breath chokes me. I wonder if I'm ever going to feel like I'm in control of my life ever again. Whether I'll ever feel like my time is my own. That I'm not just going from one set of tasks to another in a vicious cycle that saps every ounce of creative energy out of me.

But every time I hit a low point, I think of something an older woman said to me a few weeks ago.

When Jerry and I went to vote, which happens to be at a nearby retirement facility, a group of women who live there filed in behind us. As we walked past to leave, with baby and dog in tow, they all gravitated toward Allison, peeking into her stroller. Some asked questions, others offered advice, but one woman's words will forever stay with me.

She looked at me and my growing family and her eyes filled up.

"I'm so envious of you," she whispered.

At the time, I didn't know how to respond. I think I brushed it off with a joke about dirty diapers and a yard full of the same, but I knew what she meant. She probably would give anything to have one more hectic day of racing to do laundry, dishes and put the Easter decorations away -- all before an eight-hour work shift and a restless night of ups and downs with a baby.

What I should've said was "Thank you."

Her perspective keeps me going on the days I feel like giving up.


Anonymous said...

everybody goes thru this phase in one way or the other...
for me,my heart pains when i come over late at night after work and see my baby sleeping peacefully and knowing he would get up only at 4am to have his "drink" and then again off to sleep until 6-7am and within one hour after that i need to go out of home for work again;to come back home to a sleeping baby!!!!!!!!!i have become a weekend mom these days!!!

indeed grass is greener on your side......where you get to see a active playful baby for some hours of the day.:-)
just remind yourself that all these are a way of life;sacrifices we make for the better future of our kid!!

julie said...

This is, in part, why I can't imagine going back to work. You're stressed and having a hard time, but I don't think I'd do that well even. I'm afraid of what could happen if I got that overwhelmed. You know my history. I know my history. I don't want to repeat it.

Just know I'm thinking of you. If I was closer, I'd offer to help put away the Easter stuff and do the laundry. But I'm not, so all I can offer is an ear to listen if you want to get more off your chest.

And remember, when it all really comes down to it - no one will notice if the placemats aren't lined up. This too shall pass so absorb all the good moments while they're here and let the rest all become part of the past.

Or, as we say in NA, "take what you need and leave the rest."

Wissh said...

A couple of your blogs of late have spoken to me of postpartum depression. As Alli gets more independent, and the weaning process begins, coupled with sleep deprivation, would you consider discussing it with your OB? There's no question you are blessed, and that you know it and are appreciative, but you're also a cauldron of hormones.

~rita @ said...

I know I said this before, but I hope you will talk to your doctor about whether you might have post-partum depression. I think it is normal to feel somewhat overwhelmed in your situation, but the way you describe the episodes of your crying sounds like you may be coping with more than just additional stress. I really care and want you to feel better. Wish I could reach out and give you a hug (or better yet, do some dishes and laundry for you - I wouldn't mind letting mine go for a few days).

Love to you and your lovely family,


Candi said...

Kelly, what you are going through is completely normal, and let me tell you that it DOES get better. In the next few months Allison will probably start sleeping more and require a little less attention as she gets bigger.

I went through the same thing and now Micah is nine months and looking back it seems like it all has gone SO FAST but there were days I would cry and my husband would just have to help me gather things together again and keep moving on a less-than-reasonable amount of sleep. Micah didn't want to ever stay on a routine so it made my job really hard!

It's hard because these are the moments you want to remember and sometimes all you want is to SLEEP! But it will get better, really!

Naomi said...

Kelly, I rarely leave comments on your blog, but I want you to know how very inspirational your posts are! When I feel overwhelmed by school and work and impending home improvements, I stop and think of all the women (like you) who are dedicated parents on top of that. I want to be a mother too, but can I really do it all? It's not just a question for third-wave feminists, but also for every family with two working parents. Because sometimes (most times?) we _need_ to do it all in order to keep everyone fed and clothed.

Last night on BookTV/CSPAN there was a panel of women in the legal profession, including Justice Ginsburg. On the topic of stopping the leaky pipeline of moving women into leadership positions, the consensus was that we need institutional changes to accommodate the needs of working women. It's not "just" about women's liberation; it's about families being stretched beyond their limits.

I'm sorry if this is more depressing than helpful, but I'd like to think that maybe our generation of working women will somehow figure this one out.

Timberly said...

If anyone can raise a baby, a dog and a husband, have a crazy job and run a household, it's you. Hang in there!

julie said...

Just one more thing.... If the grass looks greener on the other side, you can rest assured the water bill is higher there too.

Talking to your OB about post-partum might be a good idea. Until then, hang in there, Kelly. You're a wonderful woman, but you don't have to be Wonder Woman.

Traci said...

There is a saying about parenting: The days are long but the years are short.

The story about the woman was sweet. Don't worry, girl, you are doing a great job.

Rachel said...

I'm a working mother as well and understand how overwhelming it can be to care for a baby, a home, a husband, pets, all while doing your job to the best of your ability. Is it possible to go down to part time work? I'm sure there are other things going on behind the scenes, but think it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about PPD. No use trying to be Wonder Woman when you can get help if needed! I hope things look up for you soon!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it great that you were provided that perspective from the elderly lady at just the right time?? I know I have been there many times - the overwhelming feelings and emotions - especially when my daughter wasn't sleeping through the night yet. You are not alone!

Thanks for expressing yourself so transparently on your blog. I am so inspired and encouraged. Your daughter and husband seem so lucky to have you.

-Mama to one 22-month old daughter in Missouri (still trying to figure out this whole mothering thing...)

Ray said...

I think it's great when someone can do that for you. Touch your heart, even if you'll never see them again. Little lessons in life. Or big ones.

I hope things get easier for you. Hell I know they will (no, I'm not a mother, but I know this much is true). Having a baby is a big responsibility. I think they require more from you at this young age, than they'll ever need in their entire life. It'll get easier. The workload (at home/at work) will hopefully get easier too.

And remember that you have Jerry and that you two are a team. You're not alone in this (and maybe it may seem like it because Allison needs you more. That and the fact that mother's take on more...).

I like the fact that you find the good when things are rough. And I guess you have to, to keep sane! =)

Take, care. Here's to better/happier days and no more of those bawling in the car ones. <3

Marsha said...

I had a fleeting moment of thinking a touch of ppd a few posts back. "True " PPD, not just baby blues or hormonal dump hits most women around 4-6 months. Just so you know.

Shalini said...

I know this won't help, but it's very normal to feel like this. Keep talking, blogging, whatever helps you through it. It gets easier as she gets older and is able to do a few little things on her own, and you will remember the times when she wouldn't even let you go. Hang in there! Alli's got a great mom, dad, and Toby! It will get easier (I promise!!!)

CDNSarah said...

While I don't have kids yet I do know that the best thing to do when I'm overworked, tired, and stressed out is to ask for help.

If I've understood correctly, you've got family around you that could help out. Maybe they could prepare some simple meals for you that you can freeze, or help you out with the laundry and putting things away. You could even organize a play date at your home with another Mom and while the 2 kids play, you can do each others nails. And if your budget allows for it, get a weekly cleaning lady that'll iron for a few months until Allie's a bit older. It's such a relief to know that you don't have to clean or iron! It frees up hours each week. Good luck!

mike said...

What you wrote really inspired me to write you and tell me what went through my mind as I was reading this.

We are in very different places in our lives, but I can't help myself from feeling jealous of your life. People say the grass is always greener on the other side, but honestly, I can't imagine how your grass could be any greener.

You have an incredible husband who loves you and you get to experience and share your life with him everyday. People live their whole lives and never get to experience that blessing. That alone is something to be envious of.

But, on top of that, you own your own house, you have a dog that you love, supportive family and friens that would go more than the requiste mile for you.

Even more, you have created a life. You are getting to experience the most incredible thing in the world. You get to shape a life. You get to pass on your beliefs, you get to contribute to the world and you get to leave a legacy.

I know you feel overwhelmed. But imagine all the good things you have going for you and all the great memories you have to look forward to.

I don't know if what I have said has helped you or done anything for you, but I just hope you realize how truly lucky you are.

I hope you have a great day and that you start feeling better.

novelle360 said...

Thank you, Mike. I know. That's why I'm so conflicted. I don't feel I have any right to be upset or frustrated when I'm blessed in so many ways.