Once Upon a Weekend
Let me tell you a little story. It goes like this: all three of my kids are still asleep at 8:17 am and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Drunk on freedom and possibilities.
So I figured I’d blog.
This past weekend Dave took Joey to my parent’s cabin in southern Colorado for a little manly man’s weekend. So male bonding time plus mommy was down one highly-energetic 3.5 year old … it was kind of a dream.
Don’t get me wrong, I missed them, and it was not that fun to be the only parent in town come bedtime, but…it was oddly relaxing to have so much, how do I put this…? Emotional currency available for the other two bebes in my care. I was like, present. For pretty much the entire 2 day period. And it was fine.
I hadn’t really realized until this weekend that we were still very much in postpartum survival mode until one of the small fry was removed from my mom-scape for a couple days and then BAM, seemingly endless amounts of patience for Peter Rabbit and an odd willingness to take long nature walks and sit in the grass with dump trucks, herding roly-polies and splashing in the wading pool.
This makes me sound like a pretty crappy mom, but I’ll go out on a limb here and admit that most days? I don’t even come close to the kind of attentiveness and generosity of spirit I was able to muster up for the past 2 days. Most days I be like, ‘oh, 5 pm? Strap some flip flops on my feet so I can pitter patter out the door when daddy rolls up.’
But I have to remind myself that it was not always so. And that it will not always be so. One day long, long ago, in a condominium complex not so far away, I was drowning in a sea of reusable cloth diapers and trying desperately to keep my head above water as I transitioned from an office dweller to the CEO of Uebbing family, inc. My solitary charge was a 3 month old bundle of sleeplessness who kept me busy from dawn till, well, dawn. And although we did take walks and go on frequent Starbucks outings, it was always such a production. I never felt like I was really caught up (wherever up is) and it was just frankly shocking to my system to be somebody’s everything, every day.
If you could have shown 28 year old me a crystal ball glimpse of life 3 years later where I would willingly (yes, willingly) accept mission impossible of a solo weekend with a 5 month old and 2 year old and that I would take them out to eat, to Mass, and to my sister’s hood rat apartment complex swimming pool by.my.self. I would have been like LOL SHUT THE FRONT DOOR YOU FOOL because no friggin way.
Except guess what? Perspective. It’s so effective.
I wonder if this is what parents who stop at 1 or 2 kids never get to experience? The ‘leveling up’ of one’s parenting abilities/patience/reserves of strength. I’m guessing this factors somewhat into the decision to quit while one’s ahead, so to speak. Except I don’t think you ever actually know you’re ahead until you get a million dollar snatch of hindsight to tell you as much. I guess if you never know it’s going to get easier, that you’re going to get better at this whole mothering gig, then you can proceed with a little less fear and trembling into the unknown territory of 2 or 3 or 4 … and yes, it will still feel terrifying and overwhelming and, at times, utterly stupid…but you’ll have the reassurance that you always feel this way, at least at first.
That’s what this past weekend was: a little pat on the back, a little ‘atta girl’ for this tired mom who feels perpetually behind the 8 ball and like she’s never quite doing these little people justice on a daily basis. I am, though, as best as I’m able, keeping my head above the tepid, questionable pool water. The difference is, now I can see that I’m doing it.
PREACH! If you had told my 26-year-old self back when we had one that I would take 6 kids to Mass by myself I would’ve laughed myself to oblivion. And yet, here I am. Perspective indeed. Way to go, mom!
Truth!! It is amazing how removing one kid from the mix can change the whole dynamic. Also, if I had known 10 years ago, while preggers with my first, that I’d have 5, home school, and be a semi-crunchy cloth-diapering, body-butter making mama, I’d have laughed and run away scared.
But I wouldn’t change it for the world. 😉
Amen!! My husband deployed to the Middle East two weeks after our 4th was born. If that had been our 1st or 2nd, I would have freaked the heck out!! But I was confident by then that I could handle it – of course, with the help of some very good friends! I remember refusing to drive anywhere long distance with our first couple because there was no WAY I could do that by myself. By the time 4 and 5 came along, it was “bring it, people”!
Ahh thank you for sharing this. My husband left for TDY 2 weeks after we had our first. Not even a deployment, but I indeed freaked the heck out. Baby’s 4 months old now and still hates sleeping at night, but I digress. I think ahead to deployments with more than one kid and, I dunno, could I even keep us alive? So glad to see I’ll get better at this parenting thing, or at least, I just get used to the sleeplessness and the general feeling that I’m not on top of things like I should be. Very encouraging for this mom of uno.
True story. It’s funny to look back on the days when Evie was a newborn and think of how hard everything was (when we were living with my parents and I NEVER had to cook!), even when there were 2 parents and one kid! Not that things don’t get crazy now at times or won’t be insane in 4 months, but perspective definitely helps. 🙂 Way to go solo with two kiddos!
I think about this all the time. Especially now that my youngest is 8 months. It’s been the longest I have not been pregnant since marriage, and I gotta say my perspective is RADICALLY different now than it was 6 months ago.
This is heartening for those of us who have the little littles! Now on the odd day when it’s just me and the super-little, it feels like a vacay. Logically I know it’s possible to have many children and still function (I’ve seen the Sound of Music and Cheaper by the Dozen, after all), but I have also figured those people were made of sterner stuff than me. But maybe they’re just further along on the journey than I am. (and okay, also probably way more organized at this point.)
Oh I’m so glad to have read this. I can totally relate to your “emotional currency” comment. And I think all the time about how I wish I could go back to when I first found out we were pregnant with #1 and tell myself it was all going to be ok. It was a huge shock to my sense of self having to take care of someone else all the time. Now I don’t give a second thought to the fact that my 7 month old wants to be on my hip 75% of the day. I guess it’s good we’re learning something from this crazy adventure known as motherhood! ha!
Ohhhh my goodness! Home run again, Jenny!!!!
Kate @ Daffodils
I found myself bawling crying at 3:34am this morning because I didn’t get all 3 in bed til 9, didn’t go to bed myself until 11:30, C was up at 2 with a bad dream and Wells was up at 3:15 and refusing to go back down and I knew the light of day was coming in two hours to wake them all up for good. I cried because I felt like I just.couldnt.do.it. I miss Kev so much on days like these, but at the ripe time of 5:46, I came down with the baby, drank a huge pot of coffee and look! he’s back asleep and the big boys are fed and now watching TV and Im commenting on a blog- Ive got this! I do often wonder what first time mom Kate who’s husband was around all the time was thinking when she got stressed out…
Anyways, point is- you go girl! We definitely gain more confidence as we handle more babies and can certainly relish in the comfort of leaving one with a loved one for a little while to have a little break 😉