Somebody recently told me that I make “it” look easy. They were referring to me having it all – an amazing, active family, a successful career, a healthy marriage. I fully own that I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have what I do. I appreciate everything that I have, I really do.
But there’s nothing ‘easy’ about it.
I’m constantly a ball of nerves. I’m always worrying about the baby. I seem to have inherited my grandpa’s ‘worry gene’, although it has gotten worse since the stillbirth. Paradoxically, I’ve been simultaneously more relaxed and more anxious about Bumblebee and Goblin as babies than I was with Hollywood and The Boy. I can’t explain it, but the bottom line is that I know what it feels like to suffer a loss so bad that you almost forget to breathe. I live in fear of it happening again, and that fear consumes me sometimes.
When I’m not freaking out about my baby dying from SIDS or contracting a flesh eating bacteria, I’m feeling guilty for not giving enough attention to my two middle kids because my ‘bookends’ are at stages in their childhood that naturally demand more attention. The Boy is quite possibly the most easygoing child on this planet. I totally take advantage of that. I ask him to help out more around the house because I know he will without question. Is it fair? Not at all. Will it hurt him in the long run? Likely not, but I’m always worried that I may not tell him often enough how much I appreciate his help. It’s so easy for that ‘makes no waves’ child to be placed off to the side, simply because he will let it happen. I will sit straight up in bed in the middle of the night, consumed with guilt over the fact that I didn’t ask him how his Spanish test went. He’s not an attention seeker, so he doesn’t voluntarily offer these tidbits of his daily life to me. Guilt of the mommy variety is the absolute worst.
And then there’s Bumblebee. My sweet, funny, quirky little gal who is feeling a bit lost at being displaced as the baby of the family. She’s going through an adjustment period that won’t last forever, but it’s tough not to lose my patience when she has a bout of disobedience. The truth is, I get it. I know why she’s acting out. There’s an usurper to the throne, and that really kind of sucks for her! We don’t get to read together every night anymore, I don’t get to snuggle with her as much as I used to, and the family dynamic is just different.
But it’s the way things are now. One of my favorite books is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. In the story, Orleanna is forced, in an instant, to choose which of her two younger daughters to save from imminent harm. One of the daughters (Adah) was crippled. Orleanna chose to pull her youngest daughter (Ruth May) to safety. For years, the Adah (who survived without her mother’s help) believed that her mom made that choice because she valued Ruth May’s life more than Adah’s because of Adah’s disability. Orleanna’s reasons were quite different. She tells Adah that ‘you take care of your children from the bottom up (youngest to oldest.)’
Thankfully I’m not being forced to choose to save Goblin or Bumblebee from a swarm of poisonous ants, but my attention is definitely focused on the baby. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s how things naturally are right now. Of course my older kids aren’t being ignored, but my focus is on Goblin. And as a result, I’m riddled with guilt and am worried that my older kids will be damaged forever at this horrible treatment.
So, yeah. If the ‘it’ my friend was referring to is parenting, it’s most definitely not easy. Far from it.
As for the successful career? Things on the work front have been stressful, to say the least. In a ridiculous move to conquer the world, I applied for a senior level position at Giant Ass Bank. I went through the interview process, talked to my manager about my interest in leaving my current role, and then… I didn’t get the job. The roller coaster of emotions that whole experience brought is not one I care to ride again for a while. In the end, I believe that Fate, God, or The Universe (take your pick there) helped me out by not giving me the job. Because honestly, how could I handle the stress of learning a whole new position right now? Things in my current role may not be perfect, but I do have a solid knowledge base and there’s a lot to be said for that.
And finally, the healthy marriage. Boy, does a marriage suffer when you have a baby or what? Don’t get me wrong, I still love The Husband more than anything. But I worry that I’m not giving our union the attention it needs. I feel guilty that I’ll let a whole evening go without saying much of anything to The Husband. (Worry and Guilt, oy. That is the story of my damn life these days.) It’s not that I don’t love TH or appreciate him or want to spend time with him. It’s just that with a new baby and three other kids and a demanding job, it’s easy to fall asleep exhausted without a thought to how sustain a healthy relationship. And no, I’m not just talking about s-e-x. (Although, good God, where’s the time for that anymore?)
My birthday is coming up this weekend, and Hollywood has agreed to give up her Saturday night to babysit so that TH and I can go out together. I have no idea what we’ll do. What I’d like to do is go to a bar, have a couple of drinks with him, and feel that googly feeling again. The one that always shows up after a glass or two of wine. I’d like to laugh at his dorky jokes and surreptitiously smack his backside when I pass him on my way to the restroom. There might not be fireworks, but for now a sparkler will suffice.
Then again, by the time Saturday night rolls around, I might be so exhausted from another week in this life that watching a movie on the sofa will be all I can handle.
Normally I would add the caveat that ‘even though this is hard, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, yadda yadda…’ I’m fairly certain that anyone who might still read this blog even after I’ve neglected it for so long knows me well enough that I don’t have to throw that out there. You know I love my kids, I appreciate my life, I’m crazy about my husband. So I won’t go there.
But yep. This is how I do it. How I make ‘it’ look easy. Under the surface my mind is going a zillion miles a minute and I feel like I might have an anxiety explosion soon. Brains and blood everywhere – all over the walls, the carpet, the furniture. It won’t be pretty.