7/26/09

Postcard from Vermont: Almost fixing it

I am gazing out at the lake after a morning spent playing with Zoe in the water when it hits me that no matter how much fun I've been having, I still feel a bit caged. Without CG here, it feels like every moment of my day is filled with wiping and explaining and cajoling and encouraging patience and working on my patience and cleaning up and dressing and undressing little squirmy bodies and OH JUST mothering.

And so with Eliza possibly asleep up in the house and the monitor possibly reaching this far to the dock and Zoe possibly safe for a moment on the dock with her uncle and aunt, I beg for a swim by myself.

I push off the dock and lunge for the raft, 20 yards out. I pause at the far side, family out of view, legs egg-beating, and close my eyes. The cool water, the momentary release from vigilance, being alone- all feel like heaven and it almost fixes it. Almost.

But then I am coming back to shore and everyone thinks it's great that I "had a swim" and I feel a tiny, sour lump of panic rise in my throat because that was it. That was my break.

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I have been nursing one-armed a lot and tense with frustration a lot and carrying bags and children and carseats and children IN carseats a lot and I have a big knot in my shoulders.

So during a precious concurrent naptime, I take a tennis ball from one of the dogs and I press it between my back and the wall, squeezing the muscles, willing them to relax. I do some stretches and breathe deeply and it almost fixes it. Almost.

But then Eliza starts fussing, just barely. At two months, her naps are still not distinct and I never know how long she'll "be down". So I go to her and prepare to nurse one-armed as I contort myself into a position that allows me to read at the same time because I'm dying to read and there is no other time to do it and I feel the knot rise again.

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Zoe is whining and I say "Zoe, I can't understand the whining" and this time I actually mean it, I have no idea what she's saying.

So she makes it clearer and I wish I still didn't understand so I wouldn't have to find a gentle way to say no, to weather the inevitable tantrum, to assess the best time and way to move her past the necessary explosion of feeling.

And as Zoe's stomping her feet and crying and raging at the injustice of no cookies for breakfast, I glance down at the eager face in my lap. Eliza alights at my glance, her smile taking over her face and her body and her limbs until it is so contagious that it spreads to me and I am helpless to do anything but grin back at her.

And it almost fixes it. Almost.

7 comments:

Marie Green said...

Oh, my, this was beautiful. For what it's worth I think you are handling all of this upheavel with astounding grace.

Also, I'm a bit in love with Eliza.

Maria Blois, MD said...

beautiful post.

tried a boppy nursing pillow? allows you to nurse with both hands free and not so hunched over.

also, in my book, cookies for breakfast are fine. anything goes the first 3 months :) give in, give in, give in. choose your battles wisely and save it for when it really matters (safety, sanity, etc)

you are doing a beautiful job and you are a fantastic writer.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Marie Green- I'm totally in love with Eliza, too, as I'm sure you can tell! (and Zoe, I feel compelled to add. Just in a different, more complex way.)

Maria Blois- I have a "my breast friend" pillow up here (great pillow! horrible name!) which is sort of working for me but I invariably find myself wanting to nurse and not knowing what room I last left it in. I'm not so good on the preparation front these days.

Oh and cookies for breakfast? It's totally going to happen soon, I'm sure.

Kathleen said...

Despite his occasional diaper-on-backwards incident, P and I are GREAT caregivers and we are on our way! Whaddaya want, sister? An afternoon off? An evening off? A whole day? You name it, it is yours.

Hillary said...

This post left me scared and yet excited for Baby2's arrival.

Whimsy said...

Lovely lovely post. And ditto with the others - sounds like you're handling all of this so beautifully. I'm sure we all understand that crestfallen slump of feeling that a second's break is break enough - and you know it's not, though maybe it never is meant to be.

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

Parenting 2 with a partner is tough. Parenting 2 without him for a month is so very tough, even with help. The lack of true breaks has been one of the biggest adjustments for me (and Kevin isn't 3000 miles away). For what it is worth you are doing great. Hang in there. And thank god for those smiles!

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