Super Mom is an Illusion

Photo: Ursa Major blowing out the candle for his third birthday. He really is such a big boy now… I can’t believe it. He is quiet reliant, too… more so than I could even give him credit for. Still though, I wish we could have done more for him this year. Next year, we’ll have friends over and do a big shabangbang… he deserves it. Learning, growing, and being part of a family is a lot of work.

I was “that mom” at the doctor’s office today. Ursa Major had his three-year check-up with the pediatrician and I thought that I could do it without the double stroller. What was I thinking, seriously?

The problem is that Ursa Major is too big for that thing now, and to just put Ursa Minor into it is kinda silly. We really ought to invest in a little umbrella stroller for times like this, but I’m worried that if I had a stroller and put one toddler in it, the other toddler would just scream and yell about it. So here I was, diaper bag slung across my chest (don’t have much use for that anymore, either, frankly), Ursa Minor on my left hip, dragging Ursa Major by the hand to the right. Of course, people give us smiles like “oh, aren’t ya’ll cute,” which is nice…but don’t smile! Get out of the way! or hold the door!

My little trooper got a clean bill of health, though my fantastic pediatrician wanted to talk about him doing more things independently, and she wanted to talk about his diet and exercise. Oh, and we really need to make that first dental appointment. He was able to get through the entire appointment without a tear… indeed, he wanted to play with all of the doctor’s tools and he was absolutely fascinated by the entire thing. She asked him to count for her, and he did. She asked him questions and he answered. She sang the Elmo song and he sang along. He was such a super star today. Even Ursa Minor was a good little boy–playing with a few toys I brought, interacting with the doctor and the nurses.

In all sincerity, my doctor turned to me and said, “you’re doing a great job.”

I said “thank you” with equal sincerity, but I must tell you, unlike other times when I needed to hear it and honestly felt better, I really feel like it wasn’t true this time.

Hear me out:

The Husband was talking with his parents last night, and he was lamenting about the boys and their crying fits of late. Neither of the boys napped yesterday afternoon, and so, as my husband put it, it was “an afternoon to be endured and not enjoyed.” Every little thing set them off and sent them in to crying fits that could last upwards of 20 minutes. Screams upon screams, toys thrown in every direction, food slammed to the ground… and Ursa Minor, especially, has become so out of sorts during some of these crying fits that he has made himself throw up or he just sorta throws himself to the ground hyperventilating. He said to them something that I knew but hadn’t heard until he said:

“Nothing has been normal for the boys for months. Probably almost six months. I can’t blame them for being overwhelmed when we’ve ripped up their lives so many times of late.”

Six months of transition and very little of it smooth despite the extraordinary efforts that The Husband and I thought we were doing to make it that way. I have to wonder now if we were fooling ourselves, if we knew that this was a disaster and actively chose to ignore it, or if we’re just idiots?

The boys and I should have stayed at mom’s for one extra week. We should have made the nursery a playroom as well as the place for them to sleep while the men were working so that they had all of their toys to play with during that first week we were here. I should have figured out better ways to get them consistently healthy meals, and above all, I should have checked my patience more often than I did. I was overwhelmed, The Husband was overwhelmed, the boys have been overwhelmed, and we’ve brought a lot of anxious energy into this house. The thing is, my husband can escape and go to work. I can sit at this laptop and write my cares away (or, rather, write words and then erase them thousands and a time). But the boys? They have no outlets… especially Ursa Minor, because he doesn’t have the benefit of school.

I’m not saying that I’m a failure of a mom. I won the war, afterall: I’m sitting in our house that we own. We’re not moving again for the foreseeable future. But there have been many, many battles that I should have fought differently. And where I thought I could simply push them through the hard parts, ignore their misgivings and anxieties at some points, and simply chalk up the crying to “just being toddlers” I failed to recognize their suffering and soothe it. And it’s catching up with me now, as things are starting to settle.

But have I really been doing a good job these last few weeks? I think that I’m a person who is reflective enough to say no. If there was a motherhood report card, I’m pretty sure I’d be looking at a pretty hard “D+” or  a C if someone was being especially generous.

Every day, I wake up and see a house that is just a little bit better. The electricians came through on Sunday and did a huge bulk of work on the house. My general contractor sent an email today claiming that they are doing one final big push on Wednesday and that we should be rid of them that afternoon. I never believe a thing he says anymore, so I’ll believe it when I see it. The only thing missing from my kitchen is the hood above the range, which I’m really excited about. I’ll post pictures with my Wednesday post. My fridge and freezer are filled to the brim thanks to a costco run, and we had duck last night for dinner. The Husband and I are feeling like we’re at home… I guess now the only thing we can do is continue to be patient while the boys begin to feel the same way. After these men are done and gone, I’ll be going through this house to scrub it from top to bottom. I’m sick of walking around on my floors and feeling little crunches of plaster under my feet. Seems like no matter how much I sweep/vacuum, there is that powdery gross feeling under my feet!

And, of course, I need to clean sooner rather than later because my in-laws are coming up during President’s Day weekend (Which also happens to be Valentine’s Day weekend. Oh joy of joys… I can’t think of anything more romantic.) And when speaking with The Husband last night, I overheard this lovely line “you might want to invite [Brother-in-law. (Bill)] too.”

Husband, hesitating: “What? Oh… I mean, we haven’t.”

Mother-in-Law (Mill): “Oh, I thought we were going to have a belated party to celebrate Ursa Major’s birthday. Don’t you want Bill to be there?”

Husband, still hesitating: “Our plan was really just to have this been a visit from you guys…” (I love my husband so much right now)

Mill, not backing down: “Oh, well, we thought that this was going to be a big gathering. We told him we were coming up to see you, so we assumed he’d be there… we told him about it.”

So, basically, you invited people over to my house. That’s what happened. We invited you out of kindness, and then you decided to take that extra step of invited another 4 people to join you. Thanks.

Husband, now wanting to get away from this: “Well, I guess we’ll discuss it.”

I already celebrated my son’s birthday. I feel like I’m going to magically find myself in Nantucket or Portland or the mall or a bar or a cardboard box downtown during their visit. All of those places would be significantly more pleasant, I think.

Alright, I admit to some hyperbole there.

It is so cold here in Massachusetts. And gray and desolate. This is the part of winter when it starts to get depressing. While some of you lovely readers will start to see the beginning of the end around this time next month, I’m still looking at another 2ish full months of winter weather. So depressing! I need to brighten up my prospects by either learning to knit or making this quilt I’d like to make. First and foremost, I must finish this story for Lightspeed. I fear that my perfectionist nature is getting the best of me. I can’t manage to finish it. I have, in all seriousness, written four endings to this story in 1500 word chunks only to erase them with prejudice and fury. It’s due February 14th and I haven’t even given it to anyone for feedback and editing… I’m screwed, I fear.

I didn’t say that pursuing the passion and being brave would be easy.

Take care. Stay warm. Thanks for reading. See you Wednesday.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. We all have days where we feel like we are doing a D+ job. I have them at least once a week. What I do is sit down and play with my kids or read them books, and I usually feel better!

    1. And, remember to give yourself a break too! Not only have the boys’ lives been in upheaval for 6 months, so has yours. 🙂

      1. K.C. Wise says:

        Thanks for the reminder! You are right, of course. I know that there have been moments that I’ve stolen to cope with my stress. It’s hard for the boys to communicate what they are feeling, let alone letting off steam from time to time. And I took your advice and joined in with Daddy for the bedtime routine. It was a very nice way to end the evening. I have a lot more D+ moments than I’d like to have… but I know that we all have them. 🙂

        1. For sure. I think I have more than my fair share.

  2. einemuellerin says:

    My children are just a little bit farther apart than yours: 2 years and 3 months. When the secon was born, we decided that we wouldn’t buy a two-seater buggy thing. Instead we are using the convertable buggy/ stroller for the baby and bought a “kiddy board” to attatch to the stroller. My son can stand on it and drive along, when he is tired of walking. (There was some protest in the beginning as he had to give up his stroller to his sister, but it is working fine now.) I don’t know if this kind of thing is availabe in the states and if you understand, what I mean. Anyway, we found that this was the right choice to make for us and maybe this might be an option for you.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      You know, we looked at a system similar to that, but Ursa Major was only 15ish months at the time, and we didn’t think that he was capable of handling the standing on the little platform thing while Ursa Minor got to sit. We figured between balance and maturity and simply being too tired, we’d end up carrying him more often than not. The stroller you are describing is really hot here in the States, with a lot of parents picking them up. We actually had a hard time finding a tandem double stroller because of this. We ended up finding one, and it has served us really well for these last 2 years, but now I gotta pay the piper… and now I’m screwed because NEITHER of them are going to be able to sit in this thing now… should have thought of that! Doh!!

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