Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Or maybe I could sell him to the gypsies.

Today is one of those days that has forced me to pull out the phone book, turn to the yellow pages, and start analyzing area daycare centers. I'm honestly starting to think that, despite what everyone at church says, it would be better if someone else raised my child and I just checked in on weekends and evenings to offer a smothering of mommy kisses and unconditional love.

It's just that every day is the same:
-Wake up to son's increasingly agitated whining sounds.
-Drag sorry butt out of warm, cozy cocoon of bed.
-Waltz into baby's room singing, "Good morning, good morning!"while baby bounces up and down angrily, rubs the back of his head, and does not smile at all to see you.
-Change baby's diaper while he kicks and thrashes. Wonder if you should be doing something different to make this diaper-changing process go more smoothly. Would a nicer voice or a meaner voice do? Would it be better to pin him down with your feet or follow him around with a baby wipe while he plays with his toys? Wonder if you've irreparably damaged his personality by not making/letting him "cry it out" when he was six months old.
-Follow baby around while he plays. Surreptitiously change him out of his jammies and into the day's outfit.
-Sit on couch in oversized floral muumuu while baby wanders around house, looking for something interesting to break or choke on. When baby starts whining to go outside, tell him it's "Bounce and Bounce Time." Hang up baby jumper in bathroom doorway. Insert baby. Remove oversized muumuu. Shower while baby opens every bathroom drawer and removes all items from each drawer. Periodically leave shower to confiscate any particularly dangerous-looking items from baby, who screams in rage and ends up slamming his head against the door frame in the process, increasing the fervor and volume of said screams. Feel resentful because baby has infringed upon your sacred shower time.
-Towel off, dress in one of the three outfits you own, remove baby from bouncer, replace him in a high chair. Bustle around kitchen in an attempt to find some food item that will at least plug up the child's cry hole until you can find something more nutritious for him to eat. Tell him that instead of yelling, he should say, "Please, mommy, I would like some food. Please." Wonder why he's not talking yet. Think of all the other babies his age who can say please. Wonder if it's your fault he doesn't use words. Wonder if you should get his hearing checked. Wonder how much speech therapy will cost. Calculate necessary budgetary adjustments to accommodate said therapy. Remind yourself that people all over the world eat nothing but rice and beans every day.
-Feed baby canned fruit, an egg, and some granola. Watch him devour the egg, play with the granola, and throw fruit pieces onto the floor--plop, plop, plop. Wonder if he's going to die of a fruit and vegetable deficiency or egg overdose. Ask him not to throw food on the floor. Take his tray away. In the nick of time, stop him from diving headfirst onto the floor below. Wash his hands and face while he squirms and fusses. Ask him why he's being such a Mr. Grumpypants.
-Follow baby into front room. Read to him from the three cardboard books he hasn't eaten yet. Play chase and giggle. Build a tent. Play in tent. Sing a song. Note time. All of these activities have consumed all of ten minutes of the day.
-Discouraged, leave child to his own devices. Pick up current read and try to distract self from stifling boredom and guilt. When child begins to whine to go outside, pick him up and say, "Why don't you help mommy do the dishes?" Attempt to clean up kitchen with a 25-pound baby in one arm. Worry that you respond to whining too much. Wonder if you're encouraging him to whine. Fret that he might grow up to be a whiner and that nobody will ever like him.
-When baby starts whining to go outside again, show him his other toys. Build towers out of blocks for him to knock over. Sing another song. Tell him a nursery rhyme. Play with the ring stacker.
-When baby starts throwing a fit about something he doesn't like, heave a great big sigh, say, "OK. You can throw a fit right there." And sit back down with your book. Decide that when he calms down you'll take him outside.
-Outside, baby is only interested in dangerous and forbidden things: climbing the crumbling porch steps, toddling off the sidewalk into the street, playing with the neighbors' toys. After five long, mindless minutes of removing him from said danger/forbidden objects, pick up child (who arches back and kicks legs) and wrestle him into his stroller. Push strollered child, who immediately calms down upon realizing that you weren't trying to force him into a vat of boiling tar after all. Worry that you should be able to exert more control over child using verbal commands, rather than brute force. Wonder if spanking should become a part of disciplinary tactics. Fret that he's growing up to be a spoiled brat.
-Allow child to run freely in the neighborhood park. Think about how handsome he is. Watch him toddle/running across the asphalt and feel a little prickling in your eyes. Build woodchip hills together. Kiss baby's chubby cheeks. Sit on swing with baby on lap until nauseated. Slide down twirly slide with child on lap until exhausted.
-Load arching/kicking baby into stroller. Walk home.
And by now it's maybe 10:00 am.

The day will continue similarly, dragging on in a long, slow, painful series of mindless games and lots of worrying, interrupted only by a blessed hour or two of nap time, in which I usually read, sleep, clean with both arms, or talk to my sweetheart. Every day Soren and I read the same stories, sing the same songs, play the same games, eat the same foods (mostly cereal, pancakes, eggs, and fruit cocktail, truth be told), clean up the same messes, and move the same toys around from room to room.

I worry that Soren is bored and understimulated. I wonder if he would be happier in a daycare center where he could interact with other people, be given planned/nutritious snacks and meals, play with new toys, hear new stories, learn new games. I wonder if he would be happier with a mommy who didn't resent being at home all day long, bored out of her freaking mind and wishing that he would just take a goshdang nap. On the other hand, I fret that he would suffer undoable psychological damage if he were to spend even a single day of his life in a daycare center. I think about the horror stories I've read in newspapers about babies molested in daycare centers. I think about the words I've heard resonating from the church pulpit, warning that young children need to be with their mothers during the day, not in a daycare or a preschool.

I wonder if I'm miserable because I'm just an unhappy person or if I'm miserable because I, like Soren, am bored and understimulated. I wonder if a change in circumstances would help, or if I would be just as unhappy working full time as I am staying at home full time.

And these are the uplifting thoughts about motherhood that I have found to share with you today.


Scott said...

Amanda and I saw a quotation posted at church today that immediately reminded us of this post:

"No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself." - Rabbi Soter

Rachel said...

Hi, Snoo. You're my hero. I have definitely been there, done that--I miss the cute stuff, don't miss the rest. Wonder how frontier women did it without committing hari-kari (sp?).

I would just like to say that your son exhibits all the signs of being a happy, healthy, very well-cared-for child, which tells me you're doing a great job. You could walk around patting yourself on the back for everything you do instead of feeling guilty.

I think your current balance of work/fulltime motherhood is very good. You've painted a fairly accurate picture of mothering a toddler as a thankless, mind-numbing, yet exhilarating occupation. My hindsight advise to myself during that stage of life would be "Worry less. Enjoy more." The kid will get big really soon, and then you can enjoy the fruits of your labors and have more time to develop yourself.

Keep up the good work!

Rachel said...

Just so ya'll know, the above comment was left by my sister, who was currently logged onto my account. I haven't resorted to leaving encouraging notes for myself. Yet.

Jamie and Michael said...

Rach, I totally sympathize. It's super hard being a mom, and not an hour goes by that you don't wonder if what you're doing is totally the wrong thing and you're ruining your child.

Another funny think I've noticed is that as a mom it's hard to be very content. When I'm with my kids I want a break. When I'm away from them, I miss their little guts.

But, girlfried, it does go by fast. Andrew is FOUR YEARS OLD! It makes me cry occasionally as I think of him running into kindergarten in a year, so excited he won't even look back.

Mark said...

I agree with your sister Rachel. Though I don't and have never had children I can say that from what I hear most moms have felt the exact same way you do. So the best way to look at it is you are normal and so is Soren. I am sure you are doing a great job. Just try to look at the positive (easy for me to say isn't it?)

becca said...

You are not alone, my friend. And I must say that I appreciate finding out that neither am I.

And good glory, you are a great writer.

Rachel said...

That is why I share personal things on my blog: So that everyone can feel a little less alone.

And also so that my fragile writing ego can be gently stroked.

Holly Keddington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

I loved this post. It's nice to read something so honest. You definitely captured the good, the bad and the ugly! If it makes you feel any better my mom always told us she was going to take us down to the corner and sell us for two cents!

Natalya said...

Dear Rachel,
I haven't been to your blog to a while because I got discouraged about trying to remember the addresses of all the blogs I want to go to. I loved this entry. I did this once too. (Wrote down all the stuff I did during the day--well, morning, like you.) This was so funny it must have been theraputic to write. I would have died laughing while I was writing it!
For those who don't know me, I have three young children, so I can laugh too.
By the way, I think I used to worry about the kids being too bored too, and that I was wasting their wonderful little minds with an appallingly empty life. But I realized reading this that I haven't worried that lately. So maybe it's a phase.

Dane & Jess said...

Hey Rachel! I followed Holly's link to your Blog on a whim, and I'm glad to read your entry :) Hilarious! Specific and yet "everyone of us!" I hope you don't mind if I mention it on my blog...(or just let me know). You are doing great. No one else can worry about egg overdose like a mommy... :) Jess

Kristine said...

I saw this post linked from Jessica's blog and I loved it! I also love reading all of your comments to this post. It is so nice to know we're not alone in the monotonous day to day happenings of a stay at home mom. I also had to laugh because one of my first thoughts was, just wait til she has two! Good luck, hang in there, have you read "I Am A Mother" by Jane Clayson? It will encourage you for at least a week and you can read it over and over again ;)


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