Thursday, January 26, 2012

that post i've been meaning to get to

i have always found immense comfort in a good list. i need a plan of action, and clear goals, especially during times of emotional vulnerability. there is something so bracing and reassuring about having a list that i can check things off of - proof that i am moving forward. and i love planning and discussing lists even more than i love making them. it's almost sick how much i love it.

i meant to write this post at the start of the month, but then life got in the way (though i love lists so very much, i realize that living in the moment and rolling with life's punches is antithetical to staying on the list. but i accept the paradox that while i need lists to feel like i'm making progress, that progress happens in ways i rarely thought to put on my list). so here it is almost february and i am only now starting to think about my lists/plan/goals for the year.
last summer while tony was deployed i got into a rhythm that was really working for me. i figured out a schedule that worked for haven and i, and i got the house cleaned and organized. i knew what i needed to do each day, week, and month to keep everything running smoothly. it felt really good, and a clear home somehow led to a clear head, and i wrote glowingly optimistic blogs about it.
since tony came home i have really struggled to keep any sort of housekeeping routine, and the house has suffered and the family has suffered. it starts because i want to spend time with tony rather than cleaning (especially when he works nights and our time together is brief and sleepy). but the more i put off the cleaning the more stressful it is to live in a dirty house and the less quality our time together becomes. when he was deployed, i would clean for an hour or so when haven went to sleep at night, and then the rest of the evening was mine for creative projects. now when haven goes to bed i try to spend some time with tony before he leaves for work, and then rush to get at least a few dishes clean for the next day before it's time for bed. cleaning during the day is pretty much a no-go. i can get the laundry done, and maybe unload the dishwasher, but anything beyond that requires more of my time and focus than haven will stand for. it's also pretty useless to clean when a toddler is awake. i vacuumed this morning, and by lunch the floor looked like it had before vacuuming. demotivating, to say the least.

i feel like as soon as i get a grasp on one area of life, i start losing everything else through the cracks. if i'm being an attentive mom or wife, the house goes to shit. if i'm keeping the house livable i'm losing myself because i have no time for creativity or even a shower without haven attached to me. not to mention that it all feels ten times more chaotic when i'm dealing with emotional blows, like i have been of late. the bottom line is that i am in desperate need of a firm schedule and to-do list.

over the summer when we were a family of two, my to-do list only needed what tasks i had for the day. but i think as a family of three the list needs an actual time schedule for when each task will be accomplished. i know that i waste oodles of time during the day, and working within a time schedule will help me find out where i'm wasting the time and help stay on that maybe, just maybe, by the end of the day i will have 30 or 40 minutes to spend with myself. i think i also need to get back on a long-term schedule for housework. it's not enough to have a daily list of what most desperately has to be cleaned to avoid contracting diseases. i need to have a rotation for all the things that only need to be cleaned once every week or two and get forgotten when i'm just trying to catch up the dishes so we can eat dinner. over the summer i had that schedule figured out but, again, it's different now with three. things get dirty one third quicker, roughly, and i need a new chore rotation.

a friend of tony's stopped by the other day, and it was embarrassing. i've been wanting to invite a neighbor over for a play date but there is no way that could happen right now. i hate that. i want a home that is always ready and welcoming to guests, rather than one that makes them and me uncomfortable. i think that's as close to a new year's resolution as i've got this year. god willing it won't take me the entire year to get there.

deep breaths

and then life picks up where it left off and just goes on. not as if nothing has happened, but as if the pain is not the only thing that has happened. as if other things are happening, and will continue to happen. part of me wants to be angry at the cliche of it, and the insensitive pragmatism of it. but part of me is just relieved. it is simultaneously a blow to the pride and a salve to the heart to know that the world doesn't actually end when i feel like it has.

i will always miss my baby who would never be. but my heart and hands are so full of my laughing, growing, troublemaking, playing, very alive daughter that it is hard to be sad for long. at least, it's hard to wallow. for a few days i felt like all i was was sad, as if sad might eat me up and define me. but my beautiful girl constantly reminds me that each day is something new. and my husband makes me smile even after i thought i might not be able to anymore. i still feel sad, but i also feel hopeful and loved and grateful for the family that i do have, and the people who have been there for us this past week.

i don't know how long i will feel a twinge of guilt when i catch myself laughing, or how long i will feel jealous and lost when i see a pregnant woman. but i think i will be ok. i think i am ready for life to go on. i think i am ready to go on.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

the sanctity of things that wil never be

sometimes the bitter irony of life is almost enough to choke on completely. today is "sanctity of life sunday" (a day of action for those who are "pro-life"). today i am miscarrying my baby.

i have never been strongly in either the "pro life" or "pro choice" camp. they both seem poorly named, to me. neither side seems to even see, let alone grasp, the complexities of the issues. i've always believed something along the lines of life beginning when the pregnancy stops being called an "embryo" and starts being called a "fetus". and i don't believe that terminating a pregnancy is always wrong, but i think it sometimes is. beyond that, i'm not sure.

what i am sure of is that even though my pregnancy was only in the embryo stage, even though there was no heartbeat yet (technically it wasn't even an embryo because the cells were faulty...just a tiny clump of tissue that couldn't become anything more), even though i can only refer to it as an it, it was still my baby. i only knew it existed for a week, and i was so immensely in love with it for that week. i know that it was something precious and beautiful, perhaps sacred. i know that i miss it. i miss the possibility of it, and the hope, and the excitement, and the plans. i miss what we could have been as a family of four.

knowing the depths of the ache that is in my heart today makes me feel for women who are in the position to make an impossible choice. it is so very hard to lose a baby randomly to miscarriage. i think it would be harder still to have to choose to lose it.

losing the dream that was my baby today doesn't really change my views about abortion. if anything, it further complicates things. i try to console myself with the science of it, and the fact that it was only a few hundred cells - which my head truly does believe. but my heart yells "but it was a few hundred cells that i loved, and that i would have jumped in front of a train for". so maybe the "choice" camp is medically right, and it's not a baby at all, but maybe god's heart still hurts like this every time. and maybe the "life" camp would get further in talking about the sanctity of life if they mourned with the mothers who choose to end pregnancies, rather than calling them monsters and denying their grief.

because maybe a tiny clump of tissue is sacred whether it will become a baby or not, is alive or not, simply because it is part of the beautiful and complicated world that we are all a part of and connected to. maybe we all should be more concerned with the sanctity of life on the grand scale, not just with its tiny complexities. maybe instead of sermons and rallies about the sanctity of one facet of life, we should spend a lot more time thinking and talking about, and acting in accord with, the sanctity of god...which might mean loving mothers who make hard choices as much as we love bundles of cells or fetuses or babies.

a lot of the "sanctity of life" posts i've seen today have only made the loss of my baby feel cheap. like the dream of life that i lost is being coopted by a cause. no one else gets to say if my baby was alive or not, real or not, sacred or not, because no one else carried it and loved it. and if i feel that way, having lost my baby in an "acceptable" way, i know that it must be much worse for those mothers who have lost their babies in "unacceptable" ways. it seems counterintuitive that i would feel more solidarity with them than with those who believe that life starts at conception. i think i simply feel close now to anyone who has lost a baby, no matter how or why. do the how's and why's really matter to grief? i think anyone who truly valued the sanctity of life would grieve with all of us equally.

it feels good to write. i have gone back and forth over whether to post this...because not a lot of people even knew i was pregnant, and because it is a level of intimacy that i usually reserve for my real/non-blog life, and because my heart is so raw that it is hard to breathe. but i'm going to post this because i believe so strongly in the sanctity of life on the whole, and that grief must be spoken and honored. and mostly because i do not want anyone else or any cause or side to speak for my baby and my loss. i'm the only voice it will ever have, and it deserved to be known and talked about, even though - and because - it was only a few hundred cells that will never be.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

the buddha got nothing on me

after i wrote that last post, i had a really good day yesterday. no toddler meltdowns and no mommy meltdowns. i had an unexpected burst of energy and got some cleaning done that i'd been putting off, and even cooked a real dinner. as the evening came on, i was feeling unblocked and optimistic, and looking forward to a night of peaceful blogging and hubby time. i thought "how wonderful that just writing about my frustration made it go away!".

and then haven wouldn't go to bed, or stay asleep if i got her to bed. i would nurse her and rock her like usual, and she would fall asleep in my arms like usual, and then every time i tried to lay her down in the crib her little eyes would pop right open. it felt personal. obviously, she heard my thoughts about wanting a quiet night of mom time, and she was trying to screw things up (i should note that a certain impending time of the month might possibly be influencing my attitude). all of the frustration came rushing back.
and then she started to spike a fever, and the frustration morphed into guilt. of course she couldn't sleep when she felt bad. what kind of mother resents a sick baby?

so my peaceful evening of blogging and hanging out one-on-one with my husband turned into a long night of administering motrin (let me just tell you how much my girl hates taking medicine), cool baths, and rectal temperature taking (which makes medicine taking look like a party). somehow we had managed to skate by for 18 whole months without taking a rectal temperature, but the oral thermometer was broken and it had to be done. we debated the emergency room. we called the mother-in-law who is a nurse, at 1:30am. and all the while i wallowed in mommy-guilt and swallowed my frustration.

and then something magic happened, as it sometimes does.
that zen thing kicked in.

somewhere between the rectal temperature taking and the next attempt at sleep, i just accepted it. i just accepted that it was a shitty night for all involved, and that there was nothing i could actually do about it so might as well give in. i accepted that i was frustrated and tired and disappointed. i accepted that i felt helpless to make haven feel better. i accepted that she might stay sick for days and we might spend more nights like this, and that's just the way it is. i let go of what i thought i deserved, and how i wanted things to work, and decided to take life how it comes rather than being angry that it doesn't come the way i planned.

baby girl is still sick, which means tonight's long-needed dinner out with friends is probably off. she is watching mind-numbing children's shows on netflix while i blog (there goes any hope left of a world's greatest mom award). there are no clean dishes, but i will likely only wash enough to eat lunch on and leave the rest. i still haven't had mom time or hubby time in days. the floor is covered in balls that have been dropped - in fact, i don't think i have any in the air at all.

and it's ok. because that's just how it is.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

stalled at the start

writing the first blog post of the new year has been on my to-do list since it became the new year. it's a bit daunting, actually. there are a lot of things i want to write about - intentions for the new year, the terror of raising a daughter in a deeply sexist culture, political musings - all sorts of things. but i've been stuck. not writers block, per se, more like life block? is that a real thing?

haven is now 18 months old and i realized that i've been physically attached to another person 18 hours a day for a year and a half. that is a lot just in itself. and life has been more than usually hectic of late, and hubby is working nights again which puts a strain on everything, and i'm always restless in the winter, and it all leaves me feeling weird and blocked. makes it hard to write those pithy blogs (i hate when real life gets in the way of blogging!).

i know in my rational mind, and in my core, that being a full-time homemaker and mom is what i really want. i know that it is what is truly important to me. i know that if i went back to school right now or found a job i would deeply regret it and feel like i was missing out on what is truly meaningful in my life. i know that i chose this life, and chose it for good reasons which i still absolutely believe. but.... but i am still restless.
knowing that this job of mothering is the best one i could have does not make it easier. knowing that i will have time when haven is older to make art and learn to can and finally read books again and go on dates with my husband does not make it easier right now to not do all those things. and there is so much useless, irrational guilt wrapped up in feeling so blocked and dissatisfied right now. as if admitting how hard it is to devote everything to being a mom makes me a bad mom. it's ridiculous, but that doesn't mean i don't feel it. i have chosen the hardest job i could possibly choose, and it is just hard sometimes.

i want to be a great mom, and have a spotless house, and challenge myself creatively, and be an attentive and supportive spouse, and write fabulous and thought provoking blogs. and i can't do all of those things at once. it is a constant juggling act, where more than one ball is always being dropped and i have to choose on a sometimes hourly basis which one to let hit the ground first. and that gets frustrating, and tiring. it leaves me feeling blocked.

i wanted to start 2012 with a post about my resolutions for the coming year, but right now it takes all of my resolve to just keep doing everything that needs to be done. today, i resolve to change diapers, and load the dishwasher, and make dinner. i'm starting to realize the very grown-up truth that just because i am doing what is important, and even what i love, does not mean i will always be happy doing it. isn't that just a bitch?

maybe this does touch on my intentions for the year, because i want to be more honest, and more understanding with myself. i want to cut myself some slack this year, and let myself feel whatever i feel for as long as i feel it. there are moments when i do that, when i reach a weird kind of zen in the midst of the chaos and just accept life as it comes to me. right now i feel like giving up, but i know that there is a fine line between giving up and zen-like acceptance. admitting that i want to give up is actually the first step in getting to the acceptance. it feels good to acknowledge it, but that doesn't mean i'm there yet.

there is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under heaven. and some seasons are just crap.
so i'm going to work on accepting that i am not, and will not be, perfect. fuck. i really hate not being perfect.

happy new year.