Friday, January 29, 2010

Keepin' it Real

I just wrote a note to friend who asked me about how I was doing with all these chitlins. She was struggling with a new baby herself and wanted to know what I had done when my hubby was out of town and how I kept it together since I was so good with organizing and schedules. Ha! Not so right now! I think that since I don't actually write in a journal that I should share the things I wrote with her.

I keep my posts as a record of what is happening with my family and this is a topic that has consumed my thoughts and emotions for almost 2 years. I haven't touched on it until recently on the blog, but I want to place these things down here so that I can see how far I've come (hopefully that's how I'll feel in a year or so!) and have them to share with my girls when they become moms.

I want to be honest and help my girls to not have unreal expectations in their heads that they measure themselves against. So here we go... (names have been changed - since not everyone wants to be in my blog!)

I am usually very organized, but not since Lauren. I struggle with almost everything - cooking, cleaning, spending time with each kid. This is just not the time in my life for being on top of things. And Megan is having the same weight issues Lauren had so I'm strapped to a baby or a double breast pump much of the day. It's pretty impossible to go out and go shopping, or leave the house at all for much time.

I have had baby blues after each kiddo, but with Megan I had full-on depression - which makes it harder to "see the light" and have a good attitude. I went to see a counselor once and would like to start going again in the coming months. The lady I saw was wacky and I won't see her again but I did leave with two ideas that helped me.

1. This is how it is right now.
2. My kids don't know any differently.

One thing that she told me was that I have never seen a big family work so my expectations are all wrong. I have one sister - and we are almost 4 years apart so I never saw all that goes on in a house full of young kids. We had so much time with our mom, she threw birthday parties each year, we had fun outings, we had our own rooms and not many responsibilities and lots of toys and room to play. And since there was so much time between us I NEVER had to help much with my little sister. But that isn't how it goes when you have a house full of little ones.

So I don't stress that I can't go out with the girls, accept dinner invites, exercise much, clean and have yummy meals as much as I would like. I try not to worry when I voice these frustrations and people just say "Oh sure you can! You just need to 'blah, blah, blah' (insert some helpful suggestion to fix my life) ". This is just the season for "getting by" at our home. And I'm OK with that. Everyone is different and has different struggles, and babies are just something that I can't juggle with a lot of other things.

Rick has 3 weeks vacation each year and he used almost every minute of it to stay home when we had the baby and to stay and help me in the mornings for a couple of hours. He has even made up time after the kids are in bed, working on our slow home internet connection or driving BACK to work for a few more hours. He saw that I was drowning and helped as much as he could.

And my kids don't know that they're missing out on things that I want for them - they don't think it's too terrible to be all 3 in the same room, they don't know that I want them to be able to go to the park, and have people over, and do sports and go on family hikes and whatever. They don't know that I hate that they have nowhere to play. It's just not possible right now, but they don't know what I have in my head that they aren't getting. This is normal life for them right now.

I know that things will get better as the babies get bigger. I can't wait for it! But until then I just try not to compare myself with others, or what I think life "should" be right now. Because there is only what it "is". And I am trying to make the best of that.

I feel like I am doing well. I think the biggest issue is me worrying about what other people think. That I'm lazy or not able to take care of my family like I should - that I'm slacking in my calling or not doing my best. But *I* am happy and content with how things are. I've agreed with myself to be this way just for right now. It's not how I would prefer things to be, but we're functioning and pretty happy. :) I know that as things ease up at home that I'll be able to be more clean, to do more fun things with my kids (and without them), to cook more, etc. But for me this just isn't the time and season for that. I think that what keeps me sane - knowing that my life will be back the way that I would like soon. That I will get to be the person I want to be.

You should call Sarah when your hubby is out of town. There are a lot of people who will help. And it's not bad or weak to want to have some help. I used to dread June calling me to tell me that Sarah wanted to set up dinners or some help for my family. I thought she was judging me inadequate and selfish for asking for any help. But I found out that she OFTEN has people over to watch her kids so she can go to the temple, or shopping, and she has people even watch them overnight so she can be with her husband. Many people have family who could do that, but I don't and I was amazed at all the help she was getting. It kind of made it OK for me to ask for help too.

When Rick was in Alabama and I was sick with the flu I just about lost it. Both babies were up all night - tag-teaming it seemed - and at one point I thought how I wished that I could just drop my kids off at the fire station so that someone could take care of them better than I was - and for that one second I was dead serious. I called Rick the next day and had him call Sarah because I knew I couldn't do another night like that.

She had a hard time finding people to come over b/c I had what I am pretty sure was the swine flu and no one wanted to get sick. So she had my Home Teachers come by and give me a blessing and she herself came over to help me get the kids into bed while Betty cleaned my bathroom and Alice made them dinner. Connie came over one morning and Ruth the next. It was amazing. An extra pair of hands is such a God-send sometimes. So I strongly encourage you to have people come by. Have dinners brought in, have someone come by in the evening/morning whenever you feel like you need an extra adult to wrangle the kids. It really isn't a big deal to them - not an inconvenience. They enjoy spending time with you and your kids and it's like a huge weight is lifted off of you. Really, it's not a burden and the difference can be life-changing for you.

I think in the past that's how women got things done - no one lived far from family and everyone helped each other. We are more isolated now and I think so many suffer because of it. I was talking with Wanda and she said she's seen women of our grandparents' generation talk of how hard it was and feel very bitter about their lives. So many were depressed. We really do need each other. It is so hard to be a good mom - especially when you have high expectations for yourself.

This may be WAY more than you wanted or expected - sorry if you didn't need all that! :) You have been through so much lately, and it is soooo hard to be a good mom. You could do it by yourself, but you shouldn't. It will be ok! Tell me how I can help! :)

And... that was it. It's such a journey to be OK with my "sub-par" life currently. Really, if I didn't know that this was not how my life would be forever I think I would lose it. It's just for a short time - I can do it. It's exactly what I tell myself in labor. And truly it's not like this for everyone. That's why so many people just tell me to "Just Do It". "Sure you can exercise." "Just start a schedule." But they aren't me and they don't have my limitations or my skill set, physically or emotionally. They have no idea what it is to be Erika in this part of my life right now. I hope my girls never have to go through this, but if they do I hope that I can show them that THEY CAN. Megan, Lauren, Nathan, Ashlyn - I love you!


Anonymous said...

Hello My Best First Born :-) I do so love what you wrote and that you are asking for help, that is one of the most important things we are here for, to help each other. And, yes, it is great to be allowed to help. I love you very much, and am always amazed at how much you achieve and what a fantastic mother you are. La Mama

Lori said...

You're simply amazing-- whether your kids go to the park or not... and whether they watch more tv than they should sometimes (oh, wait-- that's ME!)... and whether it's organic greens or mac n' cheese for dinner. Thanks for sharing this. I only have two kids, and only have one home with me all day, but some days are SUCH an incredibly struggle. And, I need to be okay with that. For now. :) {{hugs}} to you!!!

Anne said...

It must be nice to be June! I'd love to go to the grocery store without the kids distracting me and throwing extra stuff in the cart. It would be fabulous to have a husband in the same state to spend time with, with or without kids! Hang in there, Erika! I'm sure you're doing a great job. HF won't give you anything that you can't handle and He knows you better than you!

Caden and Mommy said...

What a great post! Even though our lives are different, (I only have one child and I have to work outside of the home) I think EVERY mother experiences these same feelings! I've told myself that same line, "he doesn't know any different" because I often feel bad that I cant stay home with him and I have to take him to daycare! It's hard not to feel overwhelmed and you did a great job of expressing that emotion in this post :0)

Ashley said...

I second everything Caden's mommy said. I have one child and I have to work long hours out of the home. I go to work from about 5am-6am and leave at 4pm. Jared stays home with Josie until 12:30pm and takes her to daycare in the afternoon. He works from I hardly ever see him. It's like we're both single parents. I am constantly overwhelmed. I pray several times a day that HF will somehow let me stay home from work...but there's this silly little law called Choice and Accountability. Sadly, I've made my bed and now I must lay in it and it makes me depressed. I never thought in a million years I would have post-partum depression. The biggest contributor was the pumping!! I really don't understand why nursing/pumping has to be so darn hard...and why it causes such anxiety/guilt. And then you have those people telling you it such a beautiful experience to bond with your baby...well, I feel guilty saying it but it was never that way for me.
Like you, we don't have any family here to help. People in my ward have offered to come over and help, but I can't bring myself to help. It almost seems like it would be more I have to entertain people when they come over and put on a happy face. To be honest I think it takes a lot to be able to let people help you. I should do better at that!
Well, I just wrote a whole lot more than I meant to...but I just wanted you to know that I know how you feel and I appreciate your has really helped me.
Take care and I'll say a prayer for you if you say one for me!

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