Monday, October 18, 2010

venting venting complaining and venting

I know I do a lot of complaining on this blog. I would like there to be more questioning and celebrating and a little less complaining, but there it is. Perhaps that was part of the blog's initial intent anyway--a place to vent. (That's not true. I hoped it wouldn't be just a place to vent--that's for journals and coffee shop napkins--but a place to examine concepts with some consciousness.) One of the reasons I've been absent here for the past short bit is because I couldn't come up with much to write that wasn't complaining: about the strep Frances and I had (deargod did that hurt) or how although she seemed well within 5 minutes of starting her antibiotics it took me days and days of lying in bed without the energy to lift a spoon of soup to my lips; about the two-kids-and-one-me air travel which wasn't actually so bad and involved only a moderate amount of screaming ("Sit down, Clark. You must sit down on your bottom." "AAAAaaaahhhhhaaaahhhhaa!") and only one spilled drink in someone's-not-mine lap and seat, and I even had a change of clothes handy; about how I mistakenly thought that traveling by myself wasn't going to be the same energy expenditure as regular single parenting because we were going to see fun people and do fun things, but in fact it was rather exhausting; and now--now!--after coming home to my sweet sweet husband who not only greeted us at the airport with a rose for me but also straightened the whole house--our first weekend back and the excitement of being with Mitch because it's fun and because it gives me a hand, and Mitch spent most of the weekend in bed with some unidentifiable illness. Sigh.

I mean, really. My life does not suck. I do not live in war torn Serbia. I do not support these kids by myself with two low paying crappy jobs. I am not alone, abused, hungry. I live in a very nice house with a wonderful and supportive husband and disposable income. I have the freedom to choose whether to work or stay home with these children. My family are all healthy. Yet still I complain.

While we were in North Carolina I talked with one of my oldest friends about this: about the frustration and underlying general dissatisfaction that seems to come with caring for young children. My therapist assures me it is particular to this stage of my life and theirs; that staying home with small children is isolating and frustrating and makes you feel the loss of self, of identity, and that eventually the kids will grow and need me less, and things will all change.

Not that I need to tell this to anyone who has ever had a child, but it's just so emotionally exhausting. The crux of the thing is that you're never off duty. Even when they're finally (finally!) asleep in their beds and you and your glass of wine are settled on the couch for some mindless entertaining 30 Rock, they could resurface at any moment. You still have to listen for their calls, their cries, have to be ready to console or convince or clean up vomit, can't drink too much of that wine lest someone wakes with a fever of 105 and you have to drive to the hospital. You listen in your sleep, always ready and trained to act.

I've mentioned before my friend Sylvia's comparison of parenting to the trenches of war: hunkered down, ready to act, sleeping with one eye open. I really don't want to make light of war experiences, but it is a funny way to think about it.

I'm done. I feel much better.

No, one more thing: when will Clark stop flinging across the room everything he touches? When will he stop shrieking in response to any form of correction or suggestion or coercion or discipline? When will he actually play with toys rather than just dumping tubs of them on the floor and walking away? These things will pass, right?

Okay, now I'm done.

And since I'm done, I will tell you one uncomplaining thing: I set up my painting studio! I bought paints and funky gel texture mediums! I can't wait to get up there! I just have to find the time... and that's just a fact, not a complaint.


andrea said...

I was reading a great blog called Get Your Mess On:

Anyway what I loved about was how she one minute thought her children would turn out "a holes" and the next minute they are teaching you about communicating and how to treat someone with respect.

I can seriously remember that time of is this ever going to end..... and wanting a break the minute I got out of bed.

It does pass, but it will come back, just in a different form.

I say this not to depress you but to prepare you. Thank God they are so cute and loving and just plain amazing (because they are ours)

Man I wish I could come and play with them for a while and give you some clarity space.

One day they will appreciate us. I mean really understand how we gave our souls and energy to them so they could strive.

You are an amazing mama. Don't forget that.

and a fabulous writer.

Joy said...

so great to hear you've set up a painting studio! how inspiring...maybe it will help motivate me to get some work going in my little space I set up in our basement. I would love to see some of your work.
I truly enjoy reading your blog. beside the fact that you write beautifully, it has helped me in not feeling so alone...thank you for that!

Cali said...

Andrea~ I love the comment about wanting a break the moment you get out of bed. Seriously, and it's a terrible thing, but also comical and actual and what is there to do about it but accept it and soldier on? Thank you for reading and for all your wonderful comments. And I also wish you could come and relieve me, or just have coffee and keep me company a while. :)

Cali said...

Joy~ That this blog helps you feel not so alone in this parenting thing makes me SO HAPPY. That was the initial goal. I went to a ppd support group just after Frances (and again, Clark) was born and just hearing other women's struggles helped me SO MUCH, even if they were completely different from mine. Every cultural impression we're given of motherhood tells us we're supposed to be happy and fulfilled doing this thing, and damn it's hard. I believe it helps all of us to share our experiences. I hope to see you in person and hear yours soon!

andrea said...

I wish I could come relieve you and have coffee with you too. Mama's and friends need each other. In a bad way.

You continue to amaze me with your writing.