the hardest part

i am having such a hard time with this tonight. i have been sitting at this desk for an hour and half, eating trail mix, and wishing i had just started the new david sedaris book instead of attempting to write this, the post which seems impossible to write.

i am feeling so inadequate these days and if i am to share that then i need to make sure that the words i tell it with are anything but, as though the words will make up for all the shortcomings. they won't, and i suppose i would argue that my shortcomings aren't really that at all, but simply misplaced expectations and a penchants for being the underdog anyway. i know this, just as i know that i shouldn't bite my nails and i should drink more water, yet still it is there. i can half joke about it tonight because today was a good day. more and more my days are falling into this category, which is maybe why i can come here and write about it at all, or try anyway. i have learned that for me there are some things that just can't be put into words, or at least not my own, opting instead to listen to others and nod with understanding.

life with two kids has been tough for me. i thought i would be better at it, the juggling, and reassuring, and nurturing. i don't have enough time for ada, and every time i blink she is bigger and stronger and one step closer to growing up. most day i feel like i am missing it. cohen, who is fiercely independent in his personality, is also a highly social being, and doesn't thrive on independent play, at least not for any length of time. it is hard to find enough undivided time for him during the day, he is alway needing more. i feel anxiety if the house is too messy, i make lists in my head of the things that need doing. the lists are quiet at first, but soon they are shouting at me. i have tried to keep the lists to the bare minimum, to not expect too much, but even just food on the table, clean clothes in the drawers and a watered garden can keep me busy until well past dark. i feel like i am losing a part of myself in this process, becoming someone new, unfamiliar.

this is the surface of the truth, the real truth is of course somewhere deeper. i think about maia, about how in the months after she died all i could think about was how much i needed something to hold. i would wrap galena up in a towel and rock her in my arms while i sang. i knew i was crazy, but it was too much, the yearning, i couldn't bear to face it. i think about all those other mothers out there who are mourning the loss of their babies, or the dreams of someday having one. i have no business being sad, or frustrated or overwhelmed. i owe it to those mothers, to my former self, to be something stronger. i am trying, everyday i am trying. i am not sure it is enough.

when maia died i read the words of others who were walking in my same shoes, they felt alone, as though no one understood. i never felt that way. somehow i managed to find a community of people who shared that grief, i felt surrounded. in this though, the weight of motherhood, i feel alone, as though it is not ok to say it is not ok. i have the photos with smiling faces, and charming summer anecdotes, all of the things that would make it seem like everything is fine, but they don't feel honest, not until i come right out and say that as a mother i am a work in progress, years from perfection, but miles away from giving up. if there are other mothers out there reading, especially those of two (or more), i would love to know how the transition from one to two went? did it get easier over time?


Sara said...

Oh sweet heart. First let me acknowledge Maia. You owe no one nothing. Just because you lost Maia doesn’t mean that motherhood should be a walk in the park. Just because you have Cohen and Ada doesn’t mean that it should suddenly be fine that it is not Maia Cohen and Ada falling asleep in your arms tonight. Life doesn’t work that way. One doesn’t make up for the other.

As for rocking Glenda, I’m sure she enjoyed it, and you were not crazy at all. Tanis (The Redneck Mommy has posted pictures of herself babying her dog, diapering him etc after the death of her young son Shale. Several years ago when I lost a pregnancy very early, for weeks I fell into some insanity in which I’d occasionally “care” for a baby doll, because I couldn’t deal with the desire to nurture and nothing to care for. I’d say that there are even more women out there that have done something similar just not near as brave as you t, to mention it.

As for the motherhood thing, the having two…sometimes it really sucks. My boys are 3 and 6 now and I have recently been all sobby about how quickly it went for Dylan. Alex’s infancy seemed aguishly long at times, Dylan’s…there are entirely weeks, months that I don’t even remember, almost as if I wasnt even there. When Alex was little I had a 35mm, hadn’t gone digital yet and still have 1000’s of pictures. Dylan, I didn’t go digital until he was 8 months old and it’s almost as if he didn’t even exist before then.

I can’t really say it gets better, I hope you wouldn’t want me to lie to you. But I will promise you this, it gets different. I know how overwhelming it can be having a toddler and an infant, awhile ago I posted a picture on my blog my dad took while I was trying to do the morning thing with the boys. The look on my face says it all. Looking back, I don’t remember those bad mornings where I was elbow deep in baby poop and the toddler was throwing a fit over a pair of handcuffs and the dog was licking the baby’s face and making him cry. It seems all flowery looking back. Eventually that was over, there was a time where the boys could play together fairly well and now we’re in this nice stage where they fight like cats and dogs. Constantly. Over everything.

Sweet heart we’ve all been where you are, I think that motherhood is supposed to be hard. It’s what makes it worth it, when your blood sweat and tears have gone into molding these beautiful creatures into beautiful beings. It will be okay though, I promise you that. You are exactly the mother Cohen and Ada need. Try to lower your expectations of yourself. I think that’s the one thing that made my life go from chaos all the time to manageable where the boys are concerned, I allowed myself to be okay with not being perfect all the time. Our children are growing and learning, and we’re learning too, to be their mothers, and sometimes, somedays, it’s just not going to work like a well oiled machine, and that’s okay. Cohen and Ada won’t mind, I promise.

I love you t, and think the world of you. When you write, you never disappoint. I’m proud, honored to “know” you.

Liza's Eyeview said...

Just want to warp my cyber hands around you, give you a cyber hug - from one mom to another - I want o say "it's ok to say it's not ok" ... we do struggle. I love it when you said:

as a mother i am a work in progress, years from perfection, but miles away from giving up

I have 2 kids - 15 months apart. They are now 9 and 10 years old. YES, it does get easier! When at look back at those young years of diaper changing (2 in diapers), or running after them when they ran in opposite direction (toddler years) - I honestly don't know how I made it - but I did.

I used to fall asleep on teh couch while sitting down simply to catch my breath :).

My house used to look like a "dump site" and it's always embarrassing when people stop by for a visit unannounced.

Hang in there. Enjoy the little things. Time flies fast (oh I used to not believe that, but it's true).


P.S. - I don't know exactly how I landed on your blog. I just did. I guess I'm here to encourage you.

m said...

Oh, Tara. I've been pretty absent on the internets lately (except the easy stuff like flickr and facebook (and even there it's to escape three minutes to play a stupid game)) precisely because I have two. I was talking to Denise today and she asked me if I had read this post yet. Nope, but here I am now.

As you know, I'm only a couple of months ahead of you as the ages of kids go. Today I will say, yes it gets better. Yesterday? I would have said the opposite. I think we're both too deep in the daily grind of sh*t and spit and toddlerhood to have any idea of what's better or not. In a few years we'll know. We will have survived it and so will have our beautiful babes and that's what counts.

I know the pain of knowing that you are missing one child's growth (Avner just turned 5 months old and it really is a blur, I feel like I barely know him) while ignoring the needs of the other (Atticus will follow me around the house with books for me to read, saying 'book? book?' and it's almost always answered with 'just after I do X...'). I try not to think I'm failing them. They are clothed and fed and loved. I would love to give them more, but it is physically impossible for me to do so.

As you may remember, I have a much higher tolerance for a messy home than you do, but I still feel like an assh*le when Kevin comes home and does all the dishes because I couldn't manage to do any that day. Or when he cleans the bathroom. Or the kitchen. Or...it goes on. If we didn't have an organics box delivered to our home every week, I don't think I'd be able to get food on the table for most meals.

It's f*cking hard work, this mothering two thing we're doing. I have fantasies that involve me running Forrest Gump-style back to my old life, even just for a day. I love my boys more than I ever could imagine, but I think I'm allowed to long for easiness of my childless life.

As for Maia, I think Sara said it best. Nowhere does it say that if you've lost a child and then are lucky enough to get two, that you must enjoy every moment of motherhood. That it should be easy. It just doesn't work that way.

I wish I could come over, sit on your back deck, plop the infants on a blanket under the shade, let the boys play with some water, eat some chips and pizza and sip some lovely G&Ts. Sure, it wouldn't help get the gazillion things that need to be done, but misery loves company, and nothing's fits company better than gin.

laish said...

I can't comment on having two because I'm not there (yet?) but I can comment on observing from the outside. when we first moved here, my good friend j (you know who I mean!) had 2 kids under 4, 22-mos-apart. that first summer, she still seemed a bit battle-weary, had a look in her eye every once in a while like she could hear choppers overhead! she was in the thick of baby/toddlerhood & while it seemed joyful & funny & full of wonder & worthwhile moments, man, it also seemed exhausting. I remember how different the next year was for her & how much had changed, seemingly so quickly. it was like she'd come up for air & could stick around a while, breathe. when I told her all this a while later, she thanked me for noticing & being aware from the outside because for her it was already a blur. sometimes it's validating to say, this is freakin' tough, sometimes it's validating to say, man, that does not look easy.

I too love this: "as a mother i am a work in progress, years from perfection, but miles away from giving up." if I ever take up cross-stiching (cue the laugh track!) I am totally using that! even though I'm not there, I know whatever you're doing, it may not be perfect but it's more than enough.

Klay said...

T- I can't relate to the situation but I can relate to the feeling.
I'm so glad that you have amazing support and can share your feelings openly in order to allow that support to come through.

To me you seem so far from inadequate in anyway and I hope that over time you'll feel the same.

Trish said...

I'm to new at this mum of two job to really sort out how I feel about it. We're surving on ready-meals (thank goodness there's healthy ones) and sometimes I realize I haven't changed either of the boys for hours, but I'm so overwhelmingly glad to be home with Duncan and Fraser instead of sitting at a desk.

But really what I want to say is that I wish we could have a play-date! I'm sure D and Cohen would have a blast playing together...

cheesefairy said...

I don't know how I found your blog either but I did...I have two boys aged 3 months and 2 years and I too am finding it almost excruciating some days. For example, it has taken me three days to post this comment.

Nobody at our house gets the attention he deserves - certainly not me, but not my kids or my partner either. I'm heartened to read all these comments to know that I am not the only one going insane and I do take a lot of hope from laish, above, because I am just like her friend, that woman, battle-weary, glazed eyes, and to know that next summer might be better, well, that really helps.

I have not lost a child, but I do feel guilty for feeling sorry for myself for having two healthy, happy kids. After all, I made the decision to have them. The least I can do is make their lives pleasant. But I still have never in my life thought, "I hate my life" as much as I have in the past three months.

I try to keep things light on my blog but oftentimes I just don't write at all because like you say, you want to do the topic justice.

I hope you have found some solace amidst the commiseration. Thank you for addressing this so eloquently, you really nailed it.

Randi said...
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