Monday, May 31, 2010

Goings on around here

This past week has been a blur.

But here are the highlights:

1. I completed my 2nd article for a local family magazine, so that is exciting.

2. I finally just called an exterminator to deal with these stupid ants that keep making an appearance in my living room.  I generally try to abide by a "live and let live" philosophy, but scurrying ants just makes my OCD go into overdrive.  I hate to admit how much sick pleasure I am getting from seeing their dead carcasses every morning around the picture window.

3. I am reading about 4 books at the moment:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett is for this week's bookclub, but I don't think I will finish it by then.  Then there's The Male Brain and The Female Brain....good, geeky stuff.  And The Reader, which is waiting patiently for me to complete The Help.

My bedside table.  

4. Gardening every day this weekend.  Moving plants.  Giving plants to friends and neighbors.  Rearranging.  Ahhhh, good for the soul.  When I'm not so tired from gardening, maybe I'll post some pictures of my garden.

5.  Spending loads of time with the kids....

Taking a tour of a local bakery.  

G eating a cupcake at my niece's 1-year birthday party. 

M napping at my niece's birthday party.  

N's new swimsuit which we purchased this weekend.  

Mamaw giving N a ride in the wheelbarrow-type contraption.  
G checking out a worm.  

The kids and my niece in the pool I spent all afternoon on Friday pumping up.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Momma-size hissy fit

Anyone want to guess what time it is?  Yep.  2:00 a.m.
Anyone want to guess how many times I've been up with children since going to bed a little before 11:00 p.m.?  3  (Twice with M; once with N)

I keep thinking about the movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, specifically the scene where Vivi is helping one of her children who is vomiting.  And within 30 seconds, all 4 of her kids are yakking all over her and the bathroom.  Not too long after this, the scene cuts to her sitting catatonic in the kitchen, all doped up on nerve-pills.

I am so feeling Vivi Walker this week.  Oh hell, I've been feeling Vivi Walker since April 19th, when I had the first of 2 stomach bugs.  Since that date, in addition to me being ill, M has had a virus, G has had a virus, and N has had strep throat AND a virus.  Oh, and M has cut his top 2 teeth AND been working on flipping himself from his tummy to his back while sleeping.  That's a lot of sleep interruption on top of normal nursing-during-the-night sleep interruption.  That's a lot of contending with sicky-poos in 6 weeks' time.

It feels like October-December 2009 Redux.  And that sucked ass.

So I'm all full of the hissies which is making it hard to settle back down into sweet slumber.

I'm going to bitch, get some things off my chest because I'm the momma, and goddammit, I need to vent.  Often.
Especially when my weeks have been a nonstop sickfest.

Bitch #1:
Yesterday, I took N to the doctor.  Of course, her temperature was 97 degrees in the office (and now is 100.6 so another day home from school today, apparently).  I took M with us, but asked D to come home and watch G.

Because 12 days ago, when I had to take all 3 of them to the doctor with me when N had strep throat (and D was at his aunt's funeral) it was all I could do to keep G from destroying the office.  He was banging on shit, trying to type at the doctor's laptop, jumping onto and off of the scale, trying to climb onto the exam table.  I was holding M, attempting to keep him entertained, and trying to explain to the doctor what N's symptoms were/listen to what the doctor said.

I really didn't like asking D to come home from work, mostly because I know he feels put-out having to interrupt his workday.  I know this from the look on his face.  From the fact that he asked, "Can't you take a toy for him?"  From the fact that he has made occasional comments about me not being able to "handle" 3 kids whenever I've said anything about the challenge of taking all 3 of them anywhere.

And so I felt guilty.
But then I reminded myself that D has never taken all 3 of the kids anywhere.  Ever.  And he has only taken the 2 older ones to his mom's house, where he has his mom to help him.
And so then I felt guilty and pissed off.

Bitch #2:
I know I'm the mom, and I've dealt with gross stuff since conceiving my children.  From morning sickness dry-heaving to having my girly parts look like chopped meat from delivering to squeezing puss out of my c-section incision.  But it still irks the shit out of me to have my child cough directly into my face.

Bitch #3:
I am glad M is finally, FINALLY starting to attempt flipping himself from his tummy to his back because, for crying out loud, he is almost 8 months old.  But why do babies insist on trying to practice milestones when they are asleep????  Why aren't the daytime hours sufficient?  Why must they interrupt mom's sleep to eat AND attempt developmental feats?
(Note:  For those of you who think, "Carrie, you dumbass, go back to bed, I will have you know I just had to go up and help M settle back down.  So even if I had been able to fall back asleep after N woke me up, I would have slept for a mighty 20 minutes before being awakened again.)

I feel only slightly better having gotten some of my frustration out on my blog.  I'd like to think tomorrow....oh, I mean later today will be better, but I'm none too hopeful.  Because with N's fever up again, it means she will be home.  Feeling good enough to be bored out of her gourd, but feverish enough to warrant staying home.  And I'll have to drag all 3 kids to my psychiatrist appointment.....where I'll mention my anxiety of late.

Hmmmm, can't imagine what could be making me feel anxious and all out of sorts.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More health-related anxiety

I have long suffered from health-related anxiety.  It used to only be my health over which I fretted, but since becoming a mom, I allot most of my worrying budget to the kids and their health.  I was thinking today that I wish I had anxiety related to white-water rafting or dark alleys or being bitten by wolverines, something that would be fairly easy to avoid.

But kids and sickness share the same bed, so I find myself getting worked up more often than I'd like.  And having 3 kids?  Well, the sickness anxiety just doesn't EVER seem to go away.  As soon as one starts feeling better, another one is needing the ibuprofen.

In January, I was worrying about G's health.  He had been so sickly in the fall, winding up with RSV at Christmas and a sinus infection soon after.

But lately I have been worrying about N.  She has been having increasingly frequent bouts of strep throat, and today she was home sick again with what seems like strep symptoms.  The concern I have is that she just took her last dose of Omnicef for strep throat YESTERDAY morning.  By late morning she was saying she was cold, which usually means a high fever is right around the corner.  And in the wee hours of this morning, her temperature was a solid 101.

She doesn't have a stuffy nose, loose bowels, a cough.  Nothing that would be an obvious indication of a viral infection.

So I'm stewing over whether this is strep that never went away with the Omnicef, which seems unlikely but I'll worry about it anyway.  And then I'm worrying whether she'll need to have her tonsils removed (I went ahead and scheduled the ENT to look at her on June 6 when I take G in for his every-6-month-ear-tube-check-up).  But I'm also worrying that if she doesn't get her tonsils removed, we will keep on this antibiotic train, which actually scares me far worse than the idea of a tonsillectomy.

I get really freaked out by the prospect of antibiotic-resistance, so I am not one of those parents who badger the doctor for antibiotics needlessly.

And then when I am firmly cemented in panic, I do a little number I like to call, "Anxiety Over Living in a Time Before Antibiotics/Safe Surgery Even Though We Do Not Live in Such a Time."  This is when I think things like, "If we didn't have antibiotics, N could die from strep throat."  And "If we didn't have safe surgery, N could die from getting her tonsils removed."

Basically, N could die.

Unfortunately, once I am doing this routine I harken back to other illnesses and/or surgeries, such as my c-section with G.  And I start thinking that I could have died while trying to deliver a breech baby.  Or he could have died.  Or I could have died from my infected c-section incision after having M in October if antibiotics weren't around.

And, finally, I end up on this street:  If antidepressants weren't invented yet, I would be locked in an insane asylum for my OCD and generalized anxiety.

Having a sick child at home is never fun for any parent, but when you've got the added fun of health-anxiety it damn near lays you out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trying to find my mom skills

There are some things I am simply not good at as a mom.  Playing "pretend" is one of them.  I am increasingly closer to 40 years old, so trying to imbue Polly Pockets with heady conversation is not a priority or a skill.  I don't think I ever had a great imagination, even as a kid, and it has only gotten crappier the older I've gotten.

But there are some things I know I am really good at as a mom, and one of those is finding fun experiences.  Opening the kids' senses up a little bit.

Every kid needs a pair of rain boots for ginormous puddles.  
And a parent who will take them out to play in them.

And then there is doing what I can to encourage their interests.  I like the "mile deep, inch wide" philosophy, whereby I try to immerse them in whatever it is they find interesting.  Finding books at the library.  Visiting exhibits.  Borrowing DVDs.  Allowing them to like whatever it is they like without judgment or censorship.

Finally there is just being here with them.  Being home every day for them.  Even though D makes a good salary, and we have made choices so that I can stay at home, it is still somewhat of a sacrifice for me.  In terms of career.  In terms of my personal financial security.  In terms of my mental health (because any mom who works will tell you it is a nice break to be around other adults for 8+ hours a day.  And to be able to pee without an audience).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I must be ill

or very close to my death because for 2 consecutive days I have had moments of clarity when I realize something that makes me extremely happy or contented.  Small snippets of joy.

A couple years ago I purchased and planted some strawberry plants.  This year they are producing fruit, which is terribly exciting.  Every day I have been picking berries to eat with my breakfast.

I had a grapevine wreath with flowers I didn't like on it, so awhile back I removed them and bought some cheapies at a dollar store.  A little ribbon and some artificial birds/butterflies.....Voila!  A spring wreath I really like that cost me very little.  

Today the kids helped me plant the annuals they bought me for Mother's Day.  I also trimmed the bushes in the front.  It gives me tremendous pleasure to see my front porch and yard look nice.  

N's diary entries.  It is so funny to see what she is thinking and finding important enough to jot down.  

Watching the boy thoroughly enjoy dishwater in the sink.  

Sweet faces that I get to see every single day.

Swinging the kids and hearing them laugh.  (These pics were from last weekend, but I was swinging the kids tonight.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

In the midst of chaos, a seed of sweetness

This week has been pretty darn crappy, but I discovered something kind of wonderful despite that.

Today N was home from school due to strep throat.  It was a very long day, to be sure, but while M napped this morning, I was able to color with both G and N as we sat on the couch.

The other day she and I worked on a stencil together, and after we had finished she wrote at the top of the page, "I love you, D," and took it to her daddy.  When she brought it back, as a joke I wrote at the bottom, "Do you like me?  Check box.  Yes, No, Sorta" and had her take it back to her dad.  Fortunately, he checked Yes.

Apparently, N really thought this type of note with the question and checking boxes was neat because after we colored she and I wrote notes back and forth to each other.

And I couldn't help but recognize how special this was....just sitting next to each other being able to share writing and reading with her in a fun and goofy way.

After the week I've had with tantrums, lost sleep and sickness, I needed a little bit of sweetness.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's the 2:00 a.m. Report

Here it is, 2:23 a.m. on Friday, May 14th, and I am wide awake.  Again.

On the way home from my abs class yesterday, I got a call that N was sick at school, so I shlepped over there to retrieve her.  By late afternoon her fever was pushing 103.

Just 20 minutes ago, she woke me up.  I'm not sure if she woke me up for herself or because G wanted me, but she has been a Chatty Kathy, yammering on about what she wants for breakfast ("an egg and a sandwich, please"), that's she is hot and wants to change into a nightgown, and, when I commented on how talkative she is, about a boy in her class who got in trouble yesterday for talking.

Her talk coupled with me having to get ibuprofen, check what time the clinic hours are at D's work for tomorrow, set my alarm clark to ensure we can get to the clinic in the early morning (hopefully), and rock G for a minute has left me......

Everyone all together now..... WIDE.FRACKIN.AWAKE.

There is only so much stimulation my brain can take before the ON switch is flipped up.  It will take a little while for it to slowly flip down again.

And I'm sure that is when M will awaken for his early morning nursing session.

Based on the size of her tonsils and pain in her waist (abdomen), I feel about 99% certain she has strep throat.  And it hasn't affected her ability to chat me up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who opened a box of crazy in my house?

For the record, it is 2:18 a.m. as I type this.  I have been up with one or the other of my two boys since a little after 1:00 a.m.  And I dealt with N's cough for a little bit too.  Hence I am now wide.frackin.awake.

I keep this blog for a number of reasons, one of which is so that when my children are adults in therapy, complaining about what a raving bitch of a mother I was to them, I can print out copies of posts like this one.  See, I was a raving bitch because you little fuckers kept me up half the night.  For years.

With M, I know why he wakes me up---he's a 7-month-old baby.  He needs to eat and/or his top two teeth are taking foreva to cut through the gums.  It is frustrating, to be sure, but he's still a wee babe.

But the 2-year-old?  The other night he hollered for me.  When I picked him up to rock him for a minute, he asked, "Can we wisten to da ipod?"

Are you kidding me?

And then just a bit ago, he screamed for Clifford, the red stuffed dog.  Now he hadn't gone to bed with this dog at 8:00 p.m., but he HAD to have him now, which required me to haul ass downstairs with a flashlight to find Clifford in the family room in a futile attempt to stop the wailing and allow every still sleeping individual to continue sleeping.  When Clifford was safely in G's bed, he kept on screaming.  Because now he needed Aquafor on his nose.

Unless a masked intruder has a gun pointed at you or you are bleeding from your eyes, I can see no other reason to be SCREAMING at the top of one's lungs at 1:30 in the morning.  But then I am not two.

So let's review.  Monday was deal with psycho-kindergartener.  Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning is deal with psycho-toddler time.  I simply cannot wait to see what the rest of the week has in store.

Very cool

I was quoted in an article on pre- and post-partum mood disorders.  Check out the article.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Having it out with my 6-year-old

My general feeling is that there are 4 reasons why kids act up:

1. tiredness
2. hunger
3. pending illness (they are starting to feel poorly)
4. they need to poop

Now that I have a 6-year-old daughter, I am starting to consider a new reason:

5. they are insane and hell-bent on pissing off their momma.

N came home from school today in seemingly fine spirits.  She and G had a snack together, and then I told her she could watch the Netflix movie that came for her--High School Musical III.  She started watching it.  No problems.

G decided to empty all the toys from the bottom cabinet so he could hide within behind the double doors.  I was on the couch nursing M.  N proceeded to leave her post on the couch to go sit on one of the cabinet doors.  I asked her to get off of it so it wouldn't break.  I didn't yell.  I didn't say anything nasty.  I just said, 'N, get off of that so it doesn't break."

And that is when N turned into a psycho bitch.

She wouldn't get off of the cabinet door.  So I asked again.  She replied, 'I'm not going to break it," to which I responded, "You might, now please get off."  I think I asked at least 1 more time before she got off the door and said, "Whatever" in a really snotty tone.

And that is when my boxing gloves came off.

I turned off the tv.  I figured if she was going to sit on the door and argue with me then she wasn't watching HSM3 anyway.  And her rudeness required the loss of a privilege as well.

She began reaching for the remote, escalating her disrespectful tone.  So I took the DVD out of the player and set it over on my desk in the kitchen.  Disrespect continued to escalate.  At this point, I told her I was sending the DVD back.  She started screaming at me, that I was mean, unfair, etc.  (Note:  a very similar episode happened a couple weeks back when another DVD was returned early due to her failure to comply and be respectful.)

She kept jumping up, trying to grab the DVD where I'd placed it on my desk shelf.  Pulling out my chair, as if she was going to step up and grab the DVD.  It is like she is picking a fight, egging me on.  I don't know why but she excels at this behavior (I blame being related to D's sister, who also seems to relish starting fights with people and cannot handle her emotions even though she is almost 39).

Finally, I told her I was canceling Netflix, and she would not be receiving anymore DVDs by mail.  (Daddy and I will still receive ours, but she no longer has her own queue.)  I don't know what the logical consequence for being a little shit is, but in the real world, you generally lose out on things you enjoy, like friends, being asked out, etc, when you are a nasty SOB.

Her head nearly popped off at this point.  M was fussing and had been the entire time I was contending with N, so I finally physically helped march her butt up to her room where she was put in time out (yes, I lock her in her room so she can't get out), so that I wouldn't do bodily harm to her (because I was sorely tempted) and I could tend to the other little people in the house who call me mom (because she forgets that the universe doesn't revolve around her.)

When I went in to talk to her, I told her that she could have avoided all of this nonsense and losing her DVD and having Netflix canceled if she would have just gotten off the cabinet door the first time I asked without all the disrespect, argument and egging on a fight.

I read things about disciplining one's child, about the need to stay calm, to not let the child see you aggravated, but when a 6-year-old is deliberating doing things with the intent to make a parent mad, I say all bets are off.

Of course, ever since putting her to bed she has been hacking her head off.  I just went up and had to change her sheet because she spit up from coughing so much.  So maybe #3 from way up above in my initial list was correct.

I still feel like punching her, though.

Mother's Day, 2010

N is spending the afternoon with her Mamaw and both boys are napping.  So I have a quiet moment to think about what it means to be a mom, which is going to be a ramble because, hell that's what mothering is.

I still, 6 years into this gig, cannot believe that I am responsible for the well-being of 3 little people.  I mean, shouldn't I have had to take a test or something?

My entire life I have had uber-high expectations for myself.  If I was going to do something, I had to do it right.  (Painting walls does not fall into this category, however).

And so having my children, especially my first, was a swift kick in the ass because a mom can do everything "right," but her kids are their own unique individuals.  They have their own needs, desires, strengths, weaknesses and quirks.  Children are going to do things their own way, in their own time, and this is sometimes in direct opposition to what a mother would consider the "right" way.

Time, therapy, medication, seeing my children develop into relatively happy little people (and not psycho  imps---although that may come in time) have helped me understand that I can only do so much as a mom.  The only thing that is even remotely near perfect in my mothering is my love for my kids.

Although I act like my husband is the most obtuse man on the planet, he knows me well, having gotten me a card that says the following:

Behind every great kid is a mom who's pretty sure she's screwing it up.

Success then!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Slightly sad

It has been one week since D's vasectomy, and I have lingering feelings of sadness about it.  But it is a small sadness.  A twinge that comes and goes.  Probably similar to the discomfort D feels in his nether-region.  Twinges.

In a parallel universe, if D were a different type of guy, I could totally see myself saying in a couple of years, "Let's have a 4th baby."  But it is this universe and under no circumstances does D want any more children.

And three children is really and truly quite enough for me.  M is only just now, at 7 months old, starting to take regular naps for longer stretches, allowing me some quiet time during the week and one-on-one time with N on the weekends.  I have missed my quiet time and my N time.

As much as I don't like to think about my children growing older, I know I don't want to stay in Babyland forever.  I don't want to have baby paraphernalia all over my house or have to carry diapers until the end of days.  I will not miss being spit-up on multiple times a day.

I want to be involved in my children's growing up, their school days, their extracurricular activities.  And having an infant in tow makes that immensely more difficult.

Plus the practicalities of saving for college or paying for orthodontia.  Everything is times 3, and that feels like an awful, awful lot.

So maybe my small sadness is over the end of an era, the end of a time of my life.  M is still a baby, but these 7 months have passed faster than I ever could have expected them to.  With each child, the first year has gone by ever more quickly.

I will, eventually, have to get my head around mothering older children and find the joy in that.

But I just so adore my littles.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Things we're into

Each of the kids has been getting into new and exciting things of late.  Here's a recap starting with the youngest:

He's sitting up pretty well now, which opens up an exciting new world of play......

Specifically with his penis.  YEAH PENIS!!!

Then there's the eldest child.  At 6, she is becoming exceptionally well versed in drama, attitude and unspoken language, as seen above.

Oh yes, and then there is the "Taking Over All Stuff Belonging to Mom," such as the ipod and my socks.

Finally, there is Mr. 2-Years-Old who is at the wonderful stage of getting into everything (and getting stuck) and developing his own unique personality.  

Ah, not stuck, just entirely too big for this.  He walks around the room in the jumper.  

And there's his newest fashion accessory that he wants to wear EVERYWHERE--his crocodile boots.  

Scaring the bejesus out of his baby brother.  

His new best friend and sleeping partner, Susan, also known as Ginormica.

And his increasing awareness of his bodily functions, requiring me to check for poops 18 times a day.  

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Not very sympathetic

It is true, I am not a sympathetic person, especially when it comes to my husband and his health issues, which boil down to having sinus/allergy issues and having had a vasectomy on Friday.  He is, in general, a pretty healthy guy.

A friend jokingly remarked on my apparent lack of sympathy, which has had me thinking (in a good way, K) about why I am this way.

I think a couple of things play into this---

First, my husband's mother, whom I really have a good relationship with and is a wonderful person, is a bend-over-backwards-for-her-kids kind of lady, which is very different from how my mother was.  My mother was of the "you get your own stuff because I'm not your maid" school.

In some respects, to keep peace in my marriage, I have behaved somewhat similarly to my MIL, doing perhaps more than I would prefer.  Some of this is because I am a stay-at-home mom and so feel I "should" shoulder more home-related work.  Some of this is because my husband got used to his mom doing a lot for him and has a passive-aggressive streak which drives me bonkers (and he knows this--I'm not spilling any deep, dark secrets here). Part of it is that I am of the "do-it-myself" variety--if I want something done, I usually want it done immediately and so I just do it.  (I am often my own worst enemy.)

Secondly, as someone who has had health-related anxiety as long as I can remember, there is a "Calling Wolf" element that comes into play when people give you too much sympathy.  If you whine and moan about every little sniffle or, in my case imagined tumor, people eventually stop listening to you at all.  They don't take you seriously.  I know my mother and D never took me seriously when I'd ask, "Do you think I have cancer?"  or "Does this look like cancer?"

And thirdly, and this is not something of which I am proud, I compare the other person's experience to what I have experienced.

As someone who had numerous ENT (3 sets of tubes, adenoids removed and eardrum repair) surgeries before age 10 as well as had allergy tests and took allergy shots my entire childhood and now continue shots as an adult, I cannot muster up sympathy for sinus problems.

Plus, it has only been in the past 3 years that D sought an allergist's help for his issues, which means I listened to sinus-related complaints for nearly 10 years before he did anything about it.  Now that he regularly gets shots, takes allergy medicine and religiously uses his nose-spray, he feels better.
So part of my theory on whether to give someone sympathy is whether or not the person has done something to try to remedy the problem themselves.  If they have a problem yet do absolutely nothing about it, I am not sympathetic.

In 2003, when I was about 11 weeks pregnant with N, D had what we believe was an anxiety-attack, though at the time we thought it might be his heart.  I was terrified, and I think I was very sympathic.  This was, of course, before I became a mother and understood not only the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth, but also the truth that mothers are mothers even when we're sick.  I haven't had a sick-day in over 6 years, although I have been sick numerous times.

I think if D developed a serious health condition--diabetes, MS or cancer--I would be sympathetic to him.  But allergies?  A vasectomy?  In the grand scheme of things, these are minor.  And especially in light of the fact that I tended to children by myself 10 days after having major abdominal surgery.  (Not that D didn't help; he did, but I was solo for most of the day about 10 days postpartum).

I think and hope that when D has most needed me I have been sympathetic and supportive.  Like when his dad died in 2004.