Saturday, January 24, 2009

follow me, if you can

The Captain is asleep (did I mention how well he sleeps? Oh yes, I did) and the rest of the crew is out and about today. I find myself with time to think, and find I've rather forgotten how to do it coherently.
Perhaps part of it is seasonal. It's easy to be lazy and reflective on a Summer afternoon, but in January the stir-craziness has started to hit and my brain becomes rather jumpy.
None of this is helped by hormones or my sleep-deprivation, I'm sure.

Sir O has begun to calm down from the manic high of having his world altered. For a while there I was genuinely worried that he'd become permanently naughty and that violent tantrums were the new norm. (Even more worried that they'd always been the norm and somehow I'd failed to notice it before). But he's growing more calm and rational each day and I'm feeling terribly tender toward him. I want so badly for him to know he is loved and to feel safe and secure. Tricky stuff, this parenting gig.

I seem to remember never wanting to lay Sir O down when he was a newborn, but now I find myself almost rushing to lay the Captain down as soon as he's drowsy. I feel like I have a million things to do to stay afloat. Although honestly I don't have a million things to do. Life is pretty simple, and I'm oddly uncomfortable in it. I'm too conditioned to a project/deadline oriented existence I suppose. Time to reinvent myself again, though it's hard to change things that are so much a part of you they're practically hard-wired in.

I want my home to be calm and comfortable, but I want to be a visitor to my calm and comfortable home, not the permanent resident/calm-comfort-maker. Well, those are my intuitive desires anyway. My purposeful desire is to want to be the quietly busy calm-comfort-maker. I just flounder a lot.

Part of my struggle is never feeling I have arrived. This is naturally aggravated by the toddler-ness at home. The home never arrives at the state of perfect order. The dishes are never finished. (Have I told you how I feel about dishes? Oh yes, I have.) The toys don't stay neatly tucked away. Fingerprints appear on every shiny surface, and Sir O is nearly always wanting me to play with him. I have not got a great gift for playing with/like a boy. I do try. Most of the time I'm trying like crazy to figure out "what should I be doing right now?" and finding no obvious answer. No matter what I choose to do, I have some guilt for what I chose not to do. If I play trains, I feel bad about Mr Renn coming home to a dirty kitchen and no meal prepared. If I stay on top of the kitchen I feel badly about Sir O being bored out of his mind and feeling neglected. Now that we've thrown the Captain in the mix it's all the more complicated.

The Captain is a champion eater. I think he could eat all day long if I let him. At his 2 week checkup the Dr said his weight gain was astounding. He was almost a pound over his birth weight. This is a good thing, at least so far, but it means I spend a lot of time feeding him. I've been doing sudoku and knitting while I nurse, pretty mindless stuff, just enough to make me feel like I'm doing something besides being milked. But when all I have to show for myself at the end of the day is 24 new completed sudoku puzzles, an ornery toddler and a messy house, I sometimes forget that what I did do (feed the Captain) was important. Despite how critical it is, it doesn't feel like much of an important accomplishment while it is happening.

But I'll keep on keeping on. I'll keep trying to hammer into my emotive soul the things I know in my logical, thoughtful brain. I'll try to not be so hard on myself (how does one actually go about doing that anyway?)

Mostly I'll just remember that I'm terribly grateful to have been entrusted with all of this. And remember that I've been promised that when I'm on the Lord's errand I'm entitled to His help.

Think He's interested in helping with the dishes?


Angela said...

I think "He" would love to send me to do your dishes...but alas, I'm nearly a continent away. Does desire to do the Lord's bidding count?

I think you are handling the topsy-turviness of life with a new baby beautifully. Honestly, I don't have talent for playing with boys, or any young children for that matter. So many times I've also though, "What should I be doing?" This motherhood/housewife thing is certainly a delicate dance. Best wishes to you!

Katie May said...

Ya know, for be as "incoherent" as you claim to be, these are some pretty insightful thoughts.

Glad to hear Oliver is adjusting and that Graham is chunking out. Both signs of a WONDERFUL mother!

Carolanne said...

Thank you for the well-put insight. I'm always amazed by your gift with words. I think your situation requires a little bit of that 'eternal perspective' stuff everybody talks about, but that is lots easier to have in hindsight. Kind of ironic. Anyway,if I were closer I'd come do the dishes for you. As long as you have a dishwasher and some rubber gloves, it's one chore I don't mind.

Em said...

hmmm.... no dishwasher, sorry.

Brittany said...

Ah, a classic "Em" post. I know that you do KNOW it, but remember that what you're doing is the most important thing. As to how to not be so hard on yourself? I don't know. Practice maybe? You are an amazing woman and mother. You astound me by your insight and daily life, really. Lots of prayers and happy dishes thoughts coming your way!

Anonymous said...

To my pregnant brain this is much more coherent than you might think. I'm glad to read Sir O is figuring out his new place as a big brother. That's encouraging. And I hear you on the whole balance thing. Why is that always the issue??

Anonymous said...

I have nothing sage to add, only to tell you I'm here, reading in the dark and being your friend from 3000 miles away.

You're doing a wonderful job.

Martha said...

you know... now that I'm done with my Master's, I've been having similar issues. It's hard to know what you should be doing right now when you don't have a deadline hanging over your head. Besides, dishes, laundry, cleaning, and cooking doesn't seem to change much after weeks of doing them. It's sometimes hard to feel motivated to do it, especially when you're tired and dealing with little ones. For me... I've had to work toward finding joy in what I'm doing. I try to think of why I'm a housewife in the first place and try to remember my dear hubby who's working so hard in school so we can have an income later in life! It's still hard, though... some days are surely better than others!

I am glad that Sir O is doing better and that you have a good eater/sleeper. That is wonderful! I want to drop by sometime, but James is sick, so I'll wait 'til that has past before I grace you with my presence! :) Take care, my dear friend... btw, I LOVE sudoku puzzles! They're great fun.

Leith said...

Em, you need to read a book called I am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson. It made me feel 200% better about myself, cause I have been feeling the same way you do. Read it, I promise it'll help. Love ya!

Kori said...

We share so many of the same thoughts, feelings, concerns...
I've just had to tell myself that some nights mac 'n' cheese fills our tummies just as well as a gourmet meal (I think my kids like it better, too!)
I remember all too well how nursing a newborn is a full time job, without lunch breaks or sick days and lots of mandatory overtime.
Nearly every day someone (usually a much older and wiser woman!) tells me how quickly this way of life will all be over and all that will be left are the memories.
Let's just try to sit back and enjoy, shall we?! Hang in there!

P.S. I've had to coin your phase from a comment you left on my blog about how grabbing the camera is the secret to good parenting. Thank you for putting into words a thought that I have had for so long.

Lauren and Tyson Fiala said...

The thing I loved about nursing is that it forced me to sit down and relax and I couldn’t feel guilty about it. Feeding a baby is pretty darn important. So just enjoy those sudoku puzzles! You are doing great!

Chell said...

hang in there my friend, it will all start to fall into place and remember to recognize what you do get done, and spend less energy worrying about what doesn't get accomplished.

The Skinners said...

Ive always thought that the house and dishes will always be waiting for you... but the little moments spent playing with the kids wont. Ive never regretted leaving the house dirty in order to spend time with kids. So just forget the dishes... Renn can do them ha ha.

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