Sunday, October 4, 2009

levels of exhaustion

This morning I saw a super early post on Facebook from one of my favorite people (yes Sar, I'm talking about you) wishing people were up to chat with. I knew she wasn't up before 6 just for fun, it's because she has a new baby and had no choice. She mentioned she was grateful that at least Three's Company was on and I had a flashback to the countless episodes of The Nanny I watched when Iz was a baby and we were both awake but I was too tired to do anything else besides blindly stare at the screen. I was always exhausted when she was little. Waking up to feed her every 2 to 3 hours during the night and then trying to maintain any semblance of normalcy during the day was a joke. I remember a friend coming over one day, during those early months, too tired to change out of her pee soaked t-shirt. She knew as soon as she put on something clean, she'd get hit again. Sometimes I'd have food and my hair for hours and not notice until I got home at night. 6pm was my witching hour. Iz and I would curl up in a chair until Jon came home, watching The Nanny over and over until that grating theme song played in my head through my dreams.

It was the most tired I had ever been. I didn't realize having the luxury of lounging around for an hour was something that was unique to a mother of just one. After my water broke, for Jack's birth, and I was doubled over with contractions, I was making peanut butter sandwiches in cute shapes before leaving for the hospital. Suddenly, mid-morning naps for 2 were a thing of the past. Sitting still for an hour? Impossible. I had thought being a new mother of one was the most tired I could ever be. But having a newborn and a toddler? Looking back into that haze, I vaguely remember walking home from preschool, Iz collapsing, Jack napping in the stroller, me having to carry her in one arm while pushing the stroller with the other. Her school was straight across town, a bit over a mile and my arm would be burning by the time we'd get to our building. Jack would wake up as we'd walk through the front door and, desperate as I was to collapse in a heap on the floor, I'd have to make lunch for everyone and continue the day. I then knew that was the most tired I could ever be.

Now that they're older, the exhaustion's shifted. It's more an emotional depletion, after hours/days of begging, pleading, complaining, whining, listening, negotiating, organizing. Worrying about their relationships, or lack of friendships. Advocating to make sure things are working out at school. Figuring out what 2 picky eaters who won't eat the same thing will eat. Dealing with the extreme ups and downs of 2 kids who apparently have inherited my anxiety. And, at this point, knowing my ability to make things better is slipping away. I can't fix the hurt of mean girls or make pimples disappear, or explain why someone's not invited as many birthday parties as other kids. The emotional drain is far more brutal than the physical.

When Iz was a baby a mother of older kids said to me, just wait, it only gets harder. I couldn't imagine how life could possibly get harder.

She was right.

(day 7 and still going)

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