Monday, June 20, 2011

Lovebugs and Sweet Peas

The most exciting part about the year ahead for me is that I get to be a full-time mama.  I had decided to do so at the age of 5 when at my kindergarten graduation I announced that when I grow up I wanted to be a teacher-that is until I became a mommy and then I would be just that.  Mrs. Marshburn, my teacher, was wonderful and so was my stay at home mother, so choosing both seemed perfect.
That was part of what drew me to teaching in the first place.  Aside from my love of children and an excitement for learning and sharing knowledge, I loved the working hours, holiday breaks, and of course the ultimate perk-summer vacation.  Teaching is the perfect job for a mother.

But what I hadn’t planned on was the condition of our economy and our family finances when I finally did have my children.  Recession and debt consolidation caused my dream of being a stay at home mom to be put on hold.  I was heartbroken when I had to leave my eldest, then 6 weeks old, to return to the classroom. I cried for days just thinking about it and was a basket case on my first day back. My husband and I found a private sitter who was a parent of students at my school and lived just a few minutes from my work.  She looked after another teacher’s little girl so the situation seemed the better of the choices between home care and a facility filled with drippy-nosed infants.  Besides, Jenna loved her right away and gradually I adjusted to the new reality. For the past couple years we have been slowly hacking away at our debt and I am proud to say, aside from our mortgage and some medical bills, will be debt free come November of this year.
We were very surprised when we found out we were pregnant with our second daughter.  Jenna was approaching her 2nd birthday and was high spirited, brilliant, and full of endless energy.  But for the first time, I realized that we had a bigger challenge ahead than just managing two kids close in age: childcare for two.  The cost was already $600 a month for one, there was no way we could double that and still survive.  That’s when we started crunching numbers and came to the conclusion that it would be worth it more, in the long run, both emotionally and financially if I just stayed home with our girls for the year. I am officially three weeks in from staying home but I am used to having summers off.  My guess is that the summer will act as a practice run of sorts for August when I would normally be returning to work. Mike is off and helping a huge amount.  I figure it won’t really be a stay at home situation until school starts in the fall and Mike goes back to work.  How is my practice run going? Notice this blog hasn’t been updated in a quite some time?

Delusions are interesting things. We create worlds and ideas in our minds of how our life is going to work. There’s an expression, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!” I had these dreams that I would be this June Clever type (dress and high heels deleted), placing a lovely roast on the table, with sparkling floors gleaming all around, and everything in its proper place in time for my hubby to come home.  The dream bubble popped about a week after our newest arrival came home.  Naomi, now three weeks old, is a chronic colicky bundle of cuteness.  She was so tiny when she arrived a week late, 6 pounds 7 ounces, that we called her sweet pea.  She would just sit contentedly in our arms staring into our eyes and smile.  Now her sweet smile has turned into 14+ all hours of the day-horrific screaming.  The poor little thing is so gassy and in so much pain she pulls her tiny fists into clenched balls and stretches her legs as far as they could go and just belts the most terrible noise.  We’ve tried just about everything on the market. Gripe water helps a little, but let me tell you that the $20 Colic Calm only made her poop and puke black which by the way stains anything it touches. I am breastfeeding so I’ve eliminated dairy, soy, garlic, onions, and tomato from my diet to try and make things better.  I already have irritable bowel syndrome and don’t do well-eating meat.  Next time you are in the grocery store try and look for stuff that doesn’t contain meat, dairy or soy and see how happy you are at your next meal.   Nothing seems to be making a difference and I’m just crankier from it.

Jenna is not impressed with her new sister and has done everything from scream right along with Naomi to trying to hit her in the head with her beach ball.  This new sibling rivalry was expected but I didn’t plan on the total attitude turnaround of Jenna.  She used to be mischievous at times but this is a whole new person.  Our little love bug (so nicknamed because she wanted to be held and cuddled at all times as a toddler) now punches, kicks, and hits just about everyone.  Mike took the garbage out while I was nursing the baby and Jenna “colored” the kitchen wall with poop.  Another time she looked at me and smiling said, “Mommy, watch!” as she dumped her apple juice all over her table filled with books and the dog standing under it. Some days the only thing we can do to comfort Naomi is to load everyone in the car and drive.  Despite my normal health-conscious diet we decided to get hot dogs from Checkers drive through.  Jenna ate one and then asked for another.  After a while she got quiet and I turned around to find she crushed the hot dog and rubbed grease all over her hair, legs, and feet. Lovely! That will teach me the next time I want to feed my kids junk!

Needless to say, I am utterly exhausted and at my wit's end.  I’ve been trying so hard to live up the expectations of my grandmother’s generation who managed 5 kids under the age of 10 and still got a magnificent dinner on the table each night with homemade dessert.  I asked my grandmother how she did it.  She said, “All I can tell you, darling, is this will pass eventually!”
 I went home and reflected on this some more.  My life is far from complication free. There will be some time from now, most likely decades, where I will miss this time.  I decided I’d cut myself and my expectations a break for a while.  Sure we are eating Publix subs and microwaveable frozen food-a dinner that would have ladies from the 50s and 60s sighing and shaking their heads at my failed domestic performance. To these imaginary women, I responded, at least my family is fed, has a roof over their head, and clean clothes on their back.  My floors aren’t sparkling, and there is dust on just about every surface I can find. Instead of cleaning I take a nap when the girls do (and Mike does too if you can imagine it).  We are in survival mode but only for a time.  I still plan to get those hot meals on the table someday but for now, my goals are simple: survive Naomi colic and keep Jenna from destroying the house.  They say that the colic only lasts for 4 months.  I sure hope they are right.  Until then I pray for strength and above patience! All other things else will fall into to place eventually and if they don’t, I can live with that too!  

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