“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
My friend Peyton let slip a little secret: there’s an orchid exhibit in the greenhouse at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens through the end of March. Early last week, Mary and I sloshed through melting snow to step into Singapore. Glorious!
Cloudy, cold skies and slushy snow; hot pink orchids. This dichotomy is so our life right now. When Eloise only wakes up once during the night, I feel like I can do anything! Adventures with the kids! Submitting articles and blogging! Hosting tea parties for the neighbors!
But then she wakes up seven times and screams for two hours in the middle of the night for no reason while Chris is gone. Isaac has nightmares and wakes up shouting, so the whole house is awake in addition to baby wake ups. Isaac barfs all over his bed and wakes up Eloise again. And that’s just the past few days. Life is a hassle. Everyone is exhausted and our erratic nap schedule further isolates us. Despair.
On one hand, Isaac’s ernest antics, silly dances, funny jokes; Eloise’s giggles, huge smile, funny expressions; their evident delight in each other AND THEIR PARENTS—life could not get better!! Jackpot, baby! Our kids are the best!
But the sleepless months—our old, creaky house’s layout that has us practically sleeping side-by-side so everyone is always waking everyone up, even with sound machines—maddening.
I feel like I live near more close, supportive friends and are better connectioned than ever. At the same time, I feel more isolated than I’ve ever been when Chris is gone, the baby has screamed for 90 minutes, dawn is hours away, and I’m crying as I lose my mind.
I am the best, most loving, giving, sacrificing, joyful version of myself. I am the grouchiest, angriest, most unpredictable, yelling-est, awful, worst version of myself. (To that end, our pastor said a couple weeks ago that Christ doesn’t promise us a formula to reduce sin by 10% annually. On the contrary, year by year we see more and more of our need for God’s grace. I am needing a lot of grace these days. Sigh).
We have endless opportunities go find fun and engaging things to do, but getting tiny, needy kids bundled up with 54 items of clothing (each) to brave freezing temperatures when we’re exhausted before we even step out if the house is prohibitive. I pack minimally, but diapers, the necessary change of clothes per kid, snacks and water for Isaac and me (I’m nursing a five-month-old—constantly so hungry I’m dizzy), a heavy awkward car seat, jackets, mittens, keys in hand—ugh, I never want to leave the house again just thinking about it. Someone is always crying. Someone is always pooping. WHY IS EVERYTHING SO DAMN DIFFICULT ALL THE TIME?
I attempted to kind of pull it together…you know, in life…and streamlined our entryway. Cleared living room clutter. Made an attempt to be more organized with dinner planning and shopping so we don’t arrive home from the store with everyone weeping. This is the first time in our marriage that Chris’ schedule has been regular enough to plan meals at all. But inevitably, if dinner is ready on time, Chris has a work crisis, Isaac has a hangry meltdown, and Eloise needs to go to bed right when we sit down. Cold food always.
This is the best! Nothing is worth it. Look how fun! We’re succeeding! I will never sleep again. I want to jump off a cliff. Look! Just a tiny crossbody purse, happy tot, and a baby koala in this fine weather! We’re finally ready to go and Isaac has to use the bathroom and Eloise needs another nap. I can’t even see the door through the pile of outerwear. I want all the babies! I could never survive another baby. Warm weather is coming! NONE of my warm weather clothes fit.
“You will look back on these months as some of the hardest months of your life,” my mom encouraged me. I think I wept with relief. I can’t remember exactly—I’m not getting enough sleep to store memories properly.
I hate being stuck inside all the time. I love how Eloise tucks her foot into my elbow when she’s nursing just like Isaac used to. I actually hate nursing—OUCH, still. But I love the snuggles, and when she falls asleep in my arms. I feel sloppy a lot of the time, but who cares? I hardly have time to think about myself, which is probably healthy. And it’s not sloppy, it’s ‘disheveled chic’. Right? Right??
“It doesn’t get easier. It just gets hard in different ways.” …why would you say that to me? Excuse me while I find a bridge to jump off.
“Just wait until you have four!” …seriously, not helpful.
“Just love every moment!” I do! Sort of. I simultaneously want my kiddos to stay tiny and adorably ernest and precious and MINE forever and ever…and want them to GROW UP AND SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT LIKE NOW. Although really, that time will be NEVER, because I’m pretty sure the last time I got scared and crawled in bed with my parents I was home from college, and I know I’ve woken my mom up with late texts unfortunately recently…ha ha…aaaaaaahhhhhhh, sorry Mom. 🙁
Today, even though Chris is gone again, we had a lovely day: Isaac felt better after barfing, a bird visited our bird feeder, gorgeous clear weather, tasty dinner, and of course our favorite movie, BEARS. And both kids are finally in bed. But the damn cat is yowling.
Truly, truly—the best of times, the worst of times.