Friday, June 20, 2008

Make Your Own Burrito

Sometimes I wonder if I'm really cut out to be a mom. I mean, I'm realizing that I'm not so good with the endless, eternal meeting of everyone else's needs--and isn't that the very definition of a mom? Take the question of dinner. I am considering, for dinner tonight, having Make-Your-Own-Burritos. Which really just means, Mama's-Sick-to-Death-of-Fixing-Everyone's-Every-Damn-Thing-All-Day-Long-Get-Your-Own-Food-For-A-Change. But, you know, when you're not yet two, you can't really do it for yourself. Surely, Genevieve would love to try, but I'm afraid we might end up with an Unfortunate Salsa Incident.

And then there's yesterday. Christopher and I talked on the phone to each other three separate times yesterday, and each time, Genevieve was screaming in the background, throwing yet another temper tantrum about, oh, being alive. The ONLY thing that kept me from crawling into a closet with earplugs and a bottle of wine was a two-hour playdate with a neighbor and her toddler, who helped stem the tide of Genevieve's cranky demeanor and feed my desperate hunger for sympathetic adult companionship as we all hung out on the driveway drawing with chalk, dumping out pails of water, and eating "picnic snacks." I tried my hardest to convince my friend to stay later--just ten minutes! are you sure you can't play for ten more minutes?--but she had to go to work. I begged a little, and she did feel sorry for me, but there was that whole problem of having to go to work.

After the girls' naps, I had great plans to run the sprinkler, put out bins of water and plastic dinosaurs and cars on the lawn, and fill the interminable hours until Christopher got home from work with some wet summer fun. But the sprinkler--the one we've used once this year and perhaps a total of three or four times in years past--promptly snapped in two when I pushed its little stand-up base into the ground. Then Genevieve stepped on a sharp rock with her barefeet. I couldn't fix the sprinkler, so I dragged the new six-foot molded-plastic splash pool from the garage into the backyard, recalling that a friend had said her girls had great fun wading and splashing in just two inches of water when she'd forgotten to fill it early enough in the day for the water to become swimmably warm. When I ran the hose into the pool for a minute or two, Julia came over, tested it, and promptly snarled, "I'm not gonna go in this, it's freezing cold!" Then Genevieve slipped and fell. Twice.

Have I mentioned that, for six months or so, Genevieve has actively refused to give (or receive from) me a hug or kiss? And when I say "actively refuse," I mean violently turns her head in the other direction, scowls, runs away, and/or yells in her rudest voice, "NAHHHHH!"

There is a distinct lack of positive reinforcement or pleasure in my life at present. Employee morale is low. And yet I can't stand the thought of how every single demoralizing day is just one more collection of moments I'll look back on one day and wish I could remember with more clarity: those chubby legs, that baby bottom naked from the bath, those squeals from two tiny sisters being silly together. I don't even want to think about that. I'm tired of being reminded that I should feel guilty for wishing the tedious, tantrummy, snarly hours away. I already do, but it doesn't change the fact that day upon day of nine hours alone with Difficult Baby and Bored and Restless Preschooler is just about as reinforcing as--say it with me now--poking your own eye out with a stick.

One day I'll be a mom to children older than almost-two and newly-four, and each activity we think of to do will last more than five minutes, so I will not need to think of 108 different activites for every damn day, and summers will be less physical work and more up-and-go fun. I do realize this in my tired mama heart.

I am also grateful to not be a flood-stricken family in Iowa. For the record, I am absolutely grateful for that. I can be both grateful and 100% depleted by my life, all at the same time.

And you? How are you?


Rob Hardy said...

Me? I've been grumpy for the past two days. Too hot! Too many expensive car repairs on our 12-year old car! Too many 14-year old boys sitting around playing Nintendo and making noise and eating everything in sight! But I'm grateful that in ten days I'll be able to jump into Lake Huron.

Shan said...

Argh!--you mean a person still feels this way when the kids are 14? Oh my God, it's probably WORSE when they're 14. I'm doomed.

squab said...

What's all this talk of feelig guilty about? For lord's sake, you'd have to be clinically insane NOT to wish that you weren't dealing with chronically grumpy and demanding toddlers. Like you said, motherhood is an exercise in radical opposites, and there shouldn't be any guilt in BOTH hating the relentless (and often rude, if they're anything like the Hatchling) demands, AND knowing that there will be moments from now that you'll miss later. I mean, cut yourself some slack, hon!

On the practical side of things, doesn't Northfield have any cheap park and rec programs for wee ones? We're signed up for an hour long weekly class that was incredibly inexpensive (really: $20) and is one hour in the week that I don't have to come up with activities. Longer, actually, because after the program is over we play in the park outside for another hour. Personally, my plan for summer sanity is cramming in as many playdates and other scheduled activities as possible, because the less I have to come up with things on my own, the better for everyone. Maybe J and G are just taking a while to settle into their summer rhythm. Hope it gets easier soon!

Shan said...

Squab, you are right--having lots of things scheduled does help, and gives me a break from the relentless "what should we do?????" whining. Northfield has a wealth of summer preschool-ish activities---that cost a lot of money. My beloved new hometown is a bit, um....overprivileged. However. We are doing some structured activities (for Julia, not Genevieve): a session of preschool summer-school, swimming lessons (not till August), dance class (sadly, it meets in the EVENING).

The rest of the time I concentrate on the freebies: parks, playdates, and library storytime (including the Bookmobile). All well and good, but as my friend Connie says, "There are only so many days in a row you can go to the park!"

It is telling that, during the week that spawned this burned-out post, the girls and I had our weekly playgroup, two full-a.m. playdates, and a trip to a new playground. And I STILL just about resigned from my position.

My biggest challenge is that my youngest has a Very Disagreeable Temperament. She is not pleasant to be around. She tests me every hour of every day. She screams a LOT. There's not a whole lot I can do about that. Other than beg various friends to come and play and keep me company. Which is why I was so, so happy to have you and the Hatchling here this week.

Shan said...

P.S. Thanks for the support, Squabby. Love you!

Mnmom said...

Been there!! Very hard to love little people who make you miserable. Look into the park programs for J. Can't remember what they are called, but they are 3 hours of activities in a local park. At least that's one child off your back for awhile.

Cut yourself some slack!! Being a SAHM is the toughest job on earth and anyone who disagrees hasn't done it or was a SAHM to a child in a coma!

Shan said...

Yeah, I always think, when I hear someone imply that it's not THAT hard, is that she obviously has never actually been a FULL-TIME stay-at-home mom for any length of time. Meaning, ZERO help from anyone else during the weekdays. Or else her kids are so old now that she's forgotten what it's really like.