Friday, March 14, 2014

human



I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
If that's what you want
Be your number one

I can fake a smile
I can force a laugh
I can dance and play the part
If that's what you ask
Give you all I am

I can do it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
I'm only human

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that's what you need
Be your everything

I can do it
I can do it
I'll get through it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
Cause I'm only human

I'm only human
I'm only human
Just a little human

I can take so much
Until I've had enough

Cause I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
Cause I'm only human

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday: a typical day in the life



1:12 am: Wake to baby screaming. Feed baby, burp. Lay him back down. Go to sleep.

2:28 am: Wake to baby screaming. Wonder if I changed his diaper last time. Change his diaper. Feed baby, burp. Lay him back down. Go to sleep.

3:02 am: Realize baby is screaming because he doesn't want to lay flat, because he's so used to sleeping upright in his car seat and I'm a crap mother. Pick him up and try to comfort him. Sit him in his car seat. Listen and watch him fuss for ten minutes until he falls back to sleep. Lay awake wondering how little sleep is needed to actually function.

4:10 am: Wake up coughing. Cough on and off for the next couple hours, mostly just terrified that my coughing is going to wake the baby.

7:28 am: "Shit. Ohmygod why didn't my alarm go off?" Discover my cell phone has moved from the nightstand to under my pillow. "Really, Lindsay? Really?"

7:30 am: Stare at the ceiling, feeling guilty that Fletcher is going to miss his 8:10 speech class. Sigh heavily.

7:31 am: Start running around the house like a crazy person to get the kids ready for school (i.e., trying to breastfeed the baby and put Fletcher's socks on at the same time).

8:08 am: Congratulate myself on getting Fletcher to school.

8:30 am: Try to get some work done while holding a wiggly baby. Feed him. Wheel the pack-n-play into the bathroom. Make Truman's day by introducing him to a toy tambourine. Take a shower. Wonder where all my bruises came from.

9:00 am: Compliment Truman on his excellent tambourine playing. Wonder if he's going to be a musician. Watch him go from super happy to super upset in a matter of seconds. Yep, he's a musician.

9:30 am: Start laundry. Feed the screaming baby. He falls asleep. Eat a pop-tart and do some more work. Try to find something healthy to make for lunch.

10:38 am: Baby wakes up. Check the window to see if Fletcher's bus (van) is here yet. It is. Find out later that the van driver had been early today and left a message on husband's phone stating that if no one came out to get Fletcher soon he would take him back to school. WTF. Move laundry to dryer.

10:54 am: Fletcher begs for pancakes and insists on using the new bottle of syrup, not the one that's already open. Wonder if/how other parents manage to serve healthy food.

11:40 am: Clean up kitchen and Fletcher from syrup tornado. Feed the baby. Try to get everyone ready for daycare. Remember belatedly that there's laundry in the dryer.

12:35 pm: Kids are now at daycare. Drive-thru Taco Bell because Fletcher's soggy pancake leftovers really didn't hit the spot. Go to work.

12:55 pm: Work. Pump milk. Work. Pump milk. Work.

7:45 pm: While still obsessing over work projects, drive to meet the family at McDonald's for yet another super healthy meal.

9:04 pm: Back home, put in Captain America at Fletcher's request. Nothing says preschool education like a World War II movie. Feed the baby rice cereal. Try to prevent massive hungry baby from eating the bowl and spoon as well. {see video above}

11:00 pm: Normally this is when I'd be doing my second job, book editing, while the rest of the house sleeps. Since I'm on a brief sabbatical from that, I'm blogging my life instead.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

More on emotional exhaustion

I'm glad that Fletcher was born first and Truman second. I'm not picking favorites.

Being a first-time mom was incredibly taxing because it was so filled with uncertainty and adjustment. Every day was the first day of being a mother to someone Fletcher's age. Every one of Fletcher's firsts was a first for me.

It was only intrinsically hard, not extrinsically. Fletcher's cries mostly made sense, and I mostly had the time, energy, and attention span to totally baby him.

My entire opinion of motherhood was shaped by my relationship with Fletcher. Our bond was instant and focused and unhurried. At the time, I suspected he was either an easy baby, or my parenting method was really effective (answering every cry to build a kind of inherent comfort and confidence).

Yeah, no. He was an easy baby. *slaps first-time mom version of myself*

Truman came along and is testing all of us. Grandma Patty calls him her prima donna, and it's an apt description: an undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team. Try telling him he's not in charge, though, and your laughter will devolve into pitiful sobs of exhaustion inside an hour.

I might not feel the same about motherhood had this been my first experience of it. This time around, my brilliant parenting method isn't physically possible. I'm close; I feed him as often as my body can, I hold him and carry him as often as my back allows. I give him more attention than I give Fletcher (which is another whole guilt-filled story). I can't help feeling, though, that quantity is hurting quality. I can't focus on getting to know Truman if I'm focused on helping him stop crying. I can't nurture the mother-baby bond if he's screaming at me like a teenage girl in a slasher movie.

(He's been a lot better recently, and I'm still knocking on wood. If he downs three bottles in a row and gets a decent nap in a dark and quiet place, we're good. Well, he is good. I am out of milk.)

Here's one problem: No one else is quite as affected by Truman's screams as I am. They bother me to the core. Because if he's crying, something is wrong, and by god I want to help him, even if it kills me. That's a mother's job, to do everything possible to care for her baby. And if Truman's cries are honest, I'm not doing a good enough job.

Emotional exhaustion from loving the baby: a good feeling.
Emotional exhaustion from being battered by the baby's cries: a terrible feeling.

This time around, parenting is extrinsically hard, not intrinsically. Had Truman been born first, I'm afraid motherhood would've been both.

He doesn't cry all the time, and I'm sorry to make it sound like he does. It only stands out because it's different from Fletcher. I'm so sorry for Truman that he'll always be compared to his big brother.

Now that Truman's personality is beginning to come through, it's becoming easier to focus on him as an individual. Just remembering the sound of his baby laughter fills me with warmth. I may not be rested or energetic or in control, but Truman has brought more joy to my life than I ever expected or could deserve.

I'm so in love with him. I don't want to forget his smell, the way he blows raspberries and squeaks when he's excited, the recognition in his eyes, how happy he is when he succeeds at putting something in his mouth, his giggle when I tickle his armpits, his amazement when he watches his brother.

What makes a mother's love special is that it depends on nothing and is affected by nothing. I will never stop wanting more time with my sons, never love them less, never stop living for them, and never stop wishing for more time with them.