Challenge: failed. Mission abort.
Well hello again, old friends. In case you're worried that I fell off of my challenge wagon, I did; but in the process of attempting (and failing) to do it all, I feel like I learned a lot.
The last few months have been really interesting. I was wrong, in the first place, to put so much pressure on myself. I kind of live in this place where I feel like I move, and I move, and I move- but nothing gets done. There are times I find it confusing, and wonder if that's a normal feeling to have when you have three very young kids, or if it's unique to our family. When I issued "the challenge" to myself 2.5 months ago, I think I was in that postpartum place where you feel like you should have the baby thing down by now, and you're sick of sitting on the couch and telling yourself it's okay because you have a young baby. However, it's true-- I have a young baby who needs me. I am still nursing him whenever he needs (which seems to still be a lot), he likes to be held a lot, and to be honest, our 3 year old is just too rough when I try to put him down. Four months of saying "gentle, be gentle, be GENTLE, BE GENTLEEE!!" have not quite sunk in. Through not only the weeks of my "challenge," but the month following, I continued to apply tons of pressure to myself. December is our daughter's birthday and, of course, Christmas and New Years. I wanted it all to be wonderful for our kids, but with the plethora of activity (and Kenny's chemo weekend being right before Christmas), I found it so overwhelming. I do think our kids had a great holiday season, and I think all of the work was worth it, but when I, personally, look back, I feel like I missed a lot because I was always looking toward the next task.
So far, 2016 has been, in a word, busy. BUT, normal busy (well, as normal as life gets for us). As in we have 3 young kids busy. School, homework, gymnastics, soccer, play dates...the normal life "works," if you will. I genuinely try not to think too much on it, with my anxiety and OCD, but every day that I get to complain about something normal is a "win" in my book. You know, "I just caught my 3 year old cutting the dog's fur," or "My 3 year old just built blocks on the stairs," or "My 3 year old just had a melt down because I told him he didn't need to (fake) shave his pee pee in the tub." Are you sensing a trend here? Yeah...my 3 year old is in the throes of that awful age. Why anyone ever complained about the 2 year mark, I'll never know. 3 is WAY worse! He pretty much thinks any safety warning is merely a suggestion, and I'm faiiiiirly certain that his mission in life is to bring me to the brink of sanity. For instance, I believe this to be a 5 minute span in Ben's mind:
Oh--she's about to lose it--she hasn't yelled just yet, but I can tell she's trying not to...hmm...what can I do next? Oh I KNOW- I'll try to get in the baby's face for the 17,000th time today- that'll do it!! HI NATE! HI NATE! HI NATE! WANT ME TO PICK YOU UP??" hmm...that didn't work. I know, I will follow her into the bathroom when she's trying to pee...I think she might be trying to hide from me. You can't hide Mommy, I'll find yoooou! Hmm, no, that didn't work...OH I KNOW!! I'll follow her to seven different rooms, while the baby is screaming, calling her name!! "MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY!!!" (me: WHATTTT???), "Will you come to my birthday party? In July?" (me: sure Ben). Hmm, no that didn't work. OO an opportunity, Mommy's nursing the baby..."Mommy! Mommy! I'm SO THIRSTY! I need a drink NOW NOW NOW!! (me: wait a minute, Ben, I'm feeding the baby, and you just drank a big cup of milk 8 minutes ago) "BUT I"M SO THIRRRRRSTTTYYYY, I need a drink NOWWW!!"(me:Ben, just hang on 5 minutes) "NO I CAAAAAN'T!! I NEED A DRINK NOOOOOOOW!" Hmm...what can I do to really bring it home here?? I GOT IT-- (inaudible tantrum language +throwing of large toys across the living room)= BINGO- Mommy has lost her damn mind. Well done, me...well done."
I mean, I'm just guessing, but I'm pretty sure that's how the magic happens. In any case, it's no surprise that if that's how 5 minutes of my day goes, that getting a lot of things done in general wasn't going to happen. I tried--I tried hard and failed miserably; but I think that's what needed to happen. I was so focused on all the many, many things not getting done in our world, that I was hardly realizing the many wonderful things that were. Notably that my last baby (sob), was getting to know the world. He was smiling and learning new things and being a delightful little human being, while I was trying to make sure stuff was clean and laundry was put away. Knowing what I know about life, it seemed counterproductive to ignore that kind of thing. So after a couple of weeks of feeling like I was sacrificing the super important stuff to get "things done" I gave up. Not completely, but enough that I no longer felt like I was missing things.
House a mess? I called a cleaning service. It was worth every last dime, and any monetary sacrifice. Not getting the best of cooking done? I bought cut up fruits and veggies to save time, and no longer made issue of throwing mac and cheese and chicken nuggets to the kids on occasion. Sometimes sanity is worth more than the fight of getting one bit of veggie in them. Feeling burnt out? Outsource. I've started, and this is a REALLY novel concept, ASKING FOR HELP. I mean, I know it sounds like common sense, but anyone who knows me, knows that asking for help is SO not my thing. And lastly...and this, I think, is pretty important, I've started to schedule breaks...breaks for me, breaks for Ken, separately, together, dates alone, dates with friends. I'm a way better Mom and wife, when I get some time to be a better Me. Cliche, and overly obvious- sure, but not always easy to do.
In the end, the challenge wasn't a total bust- I discovered some really helpful short cuts when I was trying to do everything; and I also learned to cut myself some slack (that one took some tears on my part). Many a wonderful friend has reached out of the last couple of months to see how things are going for the hubster- so thank you to all those FANTASTIC folks. As far as I see it, he's doing great! His chemo week/weekend after are always a bit of a bust, but my main squeeze handles it with some serious gusto, and I have learned how to manage those weeks with the kids a little better every month. His last scan in early December was good, his doctor happy with the progress being made; and since he's tolerating the chemo pretty well, he ordered another 6 months worth (putting him on it through the summer at the very least). Thanks again to all of our "supporters" for checking in ;)