Work Life Balance

Mamas on Bedrest: I really blew it and you will too!

January 18th, 2011

It happened yesterday, MLK Day, when the kids were off from school. They had been bickering all day, all weekend in fact, and I had had my fill of, “Mom, he touched me”, “Mom, she called me a beanhead”, “I’m first! No me”! All the bickering combined with a day of multiple minor irritations and getting little to nothing  done on my “to do” list combined to create the perfect storm. Coming out of my daughter’s dance class, I erupted in an explosion the likes neither one of them had ever seen.

Get in the car and BE QUIET! I don’t want to hear another sound out of either of you!”

For the entire ride home I went on a rant. I don’t think that I’ve ever been so angry with my children in their entire lives (all 8 and 5 years of them) and I am pretty sure that they had never seen me so angry. They both sat speechless for the 15  or so minute ride home and went directly to their rooms when we got there. (Mind you, I had not sent anyone to his or her room. I think it was a retreat to safety!) I literally slapped some dinner together (complete with cabinets slamming) and when my husband got home welcomed him with, “Take your children!” before retreating to a quiet place to cool my jets.

I thought back to a little over 8 years ago, sitting in the NICU holding my tiny (preemie) infant daughter telling her,

“How precious you are. I love you so much!”

I was so overjoyed to have finally had a successful pregnancy that my heart was “overfilled“.  And when I had my son 3 1/2 years later I remember lying in the hospital bed holding him with him looking up at me and thinking, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”

Yet here I am, years later, screaming like a stark raving lunatic!

Mamas on Bedrest, I share this story with you to tell you that I really blew it-and you will too!. We all love our children and those of us who had difficulty conceiving or achieving a successful pregnancy know all too well how blessed we are to have our children. That doesn’t mean that everyday will be rosy. That doesn’t mean that parenting will be any more “anointed” for us than any other mom. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when we will wonder, “Was this trip really necessary??”

But mostly I share this story with you to absolve you of the guilt you will one day feel. Believe me, you’ll feel it. You’ll say to yourself,

“I wish you’d just shut up” or “I wish someone would come and take this kid!” Or some other equally “ungrateful” statement (fill in your own words here!). Then you’ll shrink at your own harshness and self flagellate for days at the mere remembrance of your thoughts. “How could I say such a thing?” you’ll ask your self. Easily. You were stressed, most likely tired, and your subconscious (your truest self) brought forth your immediate desire-without the filtering of your conscious (your outer persona you present to the world). You don’t want your child gone or wish you had never had them. It’s just that at that moment, you are beyond your ability to cope. If you can, ask for help-from a friend, a neighbor or family member. You need a break.

I remember so well the first time I had such a thought. It was during my daughter’s infancy.  She was an itty bitty thing, about 2-3 months old. For a period of about 6 weeks she had this habit of screaming every evening. These were no ordinary cries, but shrill, blood curdling wails that lasted about 2 hours each evening. My husband and I would pass her back and forth, rock her, pat her on the back, sit her up, lay her down, put her in the swing, the bouncy seat….nothing worked. After a couple of hours, she’d just tucker out. After about 6 weeks it all just stopped.

One evening when I was especially exhausted and frustrated I thought to myself, “Dear God I just want to get away from this kid!” I didn’t even voice the thought, but immediately felt guilty. How could I say such a thing, especially after all I had gone through to have a baby at all?! At the time, my husband and I believed that she would be our only child. Having been so blessed, how could I now be asking God to relieve me of her?

Once again I want to reiterate the point that this is normal. There will be days when your children, even those precious little infants, will tax every ounce of human strength that you have-both physical and emotional. They will throw and/or spit their food at you. They will squirm, kick and bite as you try to suction their noses or clip their fingernails. They’ll cry, throw a tantrum in the middle of the mall or as was my situation yesterday, relentlessly pick at one another until you cry out for someone-ANYONE-to take them. We mamas, no we parents all know that you don’t mean it. But you are stressed and irritated and just as with all noxious stimui, you want it to stop-IMMEDIATELY!

My children are now at the age when one or both of us can take a time out and regroup. Again, for those parents of infants, get help. Take a break. After an hour or so, you’ll be able to come back and face your child as the strong, competent, loving parent that you are. You’ll both be the better for it.

Remember, you’re not awful you’re a parent. Let me be one of the first to welcome you to our crazy, wacky world! If you are a mama on bed rest and you are carrying your first child, print this post, tuck it away and in a few months or even a few years, when you feel ready to rip your hair out by the roots over something your child has done, pull this out and know then as now, we’re right there with ya, mama!