Before I go to sleep …

You guys, I am committing the ultimate Mommy crime right now. I am not sleeping — or even trying to sleep — while the baby is sleeping.

Just now, I got out of bed and crept to the laptop to write this post. I was writing it in my head, so there was really no sleeping until I got it written down. I couldn’t calm my thoughts down.

I kept thinking that maybe another mother out there in bloggyland is having the same feelings, and could benefit from seeing someone else’s perspective. So I couldn’t stop mental-blogging. It is times like this when some kind of mind-reading tape-recorder/direct-to-blog function really needs to be invented.

I don’t even know where to start. Life, lately, is a blur. I am so very impossibly busy every minute of the day. I know that comes with the territory with having a two-year-old and an eight-week-old — and working from home with zero childcare — but … No, there is no way to finish that sentence.

I am tired of having to censor myself around certain people, and not be able to say that I’m tired or overwhelmed or overworked without hearing cheerful quips about how that’s “what I get” for having two young children so close in age.

These comments make me feel terrible, as if people think I believe my children are some kind of daily struggle that I deign to put up with. These comments make me feel like I can’t ever be honest, and that I have to pretend everything is super-great when it isn’t.

I am tired of people telling me we should get a second vehicle, so I would be able to get out sometimes — more than the once-a-week grocery expedition I get to go on with Darling Husband and both kids. I would love to be able to drive the kids to playdates, to the playground, or to the library. I would love to not feel so stuck all the time.

Believe me, if we could afford a second vehicle?
We’d have one.

I am tired of hearing people go on and on about how hard Darling Husband works, and never hearing anyone say how hard I must work, too. I know exactly how hard he works, and I tell him so — and how much we appreciate what he is doing for our family. It would be nice if I ever got that kind of admiration. But working in the home — on a freelance basis, and a stay-at-home mom basis — is not worth that kind of respect and praise, it seems.

Remember when I said changes were coming? Well, today was Darling Husband’s last day of Job A. It was a mutual decision — they wanted him to work more hours, he couldn’t (because of Job B) — and it is kind of sad that he’s done after eight years. Making up the lost income is going to be a huge struggle for us. He will be trying to get more shifts at Job B, and I am putting extra pressure on myself to freelance ever more than usual.

I’m tired of hearing people exclaim that being done with Job A is so great, because he’ll be home more with us. It isn’t, and he won’t. He’ll hopefully be working extra shifts to make up the difference.

I’ve been back at freelancing for two weeks now, and it’s going well, but it’s hard. I get D down for his nap at 1 p.m., turn my full attention to C, and get her down by 2 p.m. Then it’s worky-work time until 3:30 (or 4 p.m., if I let D play in his room destroy his room for a while after waking up). I also work some mornings, when Darling Husband is around to kid-wrangle.

Although I really, really love what I do — and I wouldn’t want to ever stop entirely — I would choose to work less if I could. It is hard to work every single minute when D and C are napping, plus a few full mornings a week. I get C down for her nap, bolt for the basement stairs, and am working at a frantic pace until it’s time to race up two flights of stairs to get a crying D.

Sometimes it takes a while for my chest to stop pounding, from the stress of trying to make a deadline that I’m terrified I won’t make. I always do, but it doesn’t help me worry less.

I am tired of hearing people tell me I should work fewer hours.
If we did not need the income, I would work less. I promise.

I am also tired of feeling envious of friends on their year-long maternity leave. I started freelancing during naptimes when D was three months old, so it didn’t really feel very maternity leave-ish. This time I didn’t even get a maternity leave, and started back up freelancing again when C was six weeks old. I hated the incredulous comments I got. It’s like people thought I was voluntarily choosing to go back so early.

I know those are the choices I made, and that — in exchange for not having a paid year off — I also get the awesome privilege of staying at home with my children every day, even after my friends are back at work. But it doesn’t mean I don’t get jealous sometimes, when they talk about relaxing or reading or watching TV when their babies nap. Sometimes I wish I could scrapbook or sew or sleep instead of working. I wish it a lot, actually.

I am tired of feeling like every day is Buy Nothing Day. It helps that I am almost never in stores anymore (being a one-vehicle family has its twisted perks, I suppose), because that means I don’t get to see a lot of things in person, and be tempted by them. But it really does suck when you feel so broke, everything is unattainable. It is hard to remember a time when nearly all of our income did not go towards bills, payments, and groceries. It is hard to imagine we never wasted money on the stupid crap that we used to buy.

I have gotten used to not buying anything except the essentials, but it doesn’t mean it’s not sucky sometimes. Silly things like watching my eyeliner dwindle down to almost nothing every day, and using the tiny remaining triangle of blush in the corner of the empty compact, make me feel kind of sad. I used to be the girl who had lots of makeup, way more than any one girl could use.

When Darling Husband notices and tells me to buy another, I shake my head and change the subject. To him, it is just buying makeup to make me happy. To me, it is spending money on overpriced blush from a fancy store. When it runs out entirely, I’ll buy a cheaper one, and it will be fine. I will be fine.

D needs new T-shirts — he seems to have grown overnight and now everything is getting too small. I got a coupon in my email this morning, printed it off, and hoped to borrow a car and run to the mall tonight to buy a few for him. It was for 50% off summer items, plus another 20% or something, and I was excited about getting a good deal.

Then I checked my bank account, and the balance made me cry.
I ripped up the coupon.
I did not go to buy him the T-shirts.

I am tired of not spending enough time with Darling Husband. He works 65-70 hours a week (plus about 12 hours a week in commuting), and during most of the mornings that he is home, I am down in the basement working. It’s like tag-team parenting, and I hate that. I am tired of one of us always working. It makes me want to cry and scream, but then I remind myself we are doing this for our family, and I sigh and keep moving. Keep working.

People talk about hiring babysitters, and I see dollar signs. People talk about going out for dinner, and I see dollar signs. Yet when we’re here with the kids, it’s almost impossible to talk. You would think we could spend some quality time together after D was in bed, but C is colicky and screams all evening until 11 p.m. or so (at which point I collapse into bed). Short of driving around for six hours until they both fall asleep in the van, and we have some peace, I am not sure what to do.

I can’t type anymore. I should go to sleep. I feel better for having gotten all this down, and I hope I don’t get really awful reactions to the brutal honesty of this post. I don’t mean for this to be a fail-y validation-seeking thing. I know I’m a good parent. I know I’m a good wife. I know that I’m doing what I have to do, doing the best I can do, etc.

However, I also know that I feel like I’m constantly juggling all these different balls, and keeping everything smoothly in motion. I am under too much pressure, and I’m not ever putting myself first. I don’t feel like I’m going to drop them, because — honestly — I won’t let myself. But I do feel like they are getting really, really heavy, and my arms are tired.

I’m keeping all of the balls in the air, and I know I’ll continue to do so.
It’s what I do.

But I think I have to figure out a way to take better care of the juggler …

3 Comments on “Before I go to sleep …

  1. There is, of course, nothing wrong at all with honesty! Good for you for saying what a lot of people don't have the courage to admit. It's tough! No one can deny that! I know that I, personally, look at you with awe every day … how much you do and juggle with two kids, a successful freelance career, a busy husband and a lovely home. I know that doesn't change the fact that some days are understandably rough. Just know that when you're feeling this way, there are always people out there you can talk to (me!) and also many people (including me!) who will continue to admire you for all that you do. xo

  2. You are amazing and don't let anyone tell you differently. I have been reading your blog since D was born and you do a fantastic job everyday. It IS hard. My kids are 15,13,and so I can tell you it does get easier at least the juggling part : )You are a great mom and a wonderful wife and a fantastic writer and I know this and I don't even know you. Take your good days and stand up and rail at the bad ones and know that there are people out here in the world that admire you for all you do. I remember these days that you are having now with a light heart knowing I did the right things for my family and I know that you are too. And I hope that I have lightened your heart a little.

So what do you think?

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