Oh, hello, postpartum depression. Is that you? I sure was hoping you had lost my address this time.
Warning to all my loyal readers: you are about to enter what may appear as a pity-party. Don't be fooled by first impressions. Rather than pity myself, I am opening up to all vulnerability in the wishful belief that I am not the only one who has ever felt or will ever feel this way. Let's call this a blogging attempt at commiserating with each other.
So I am really struggling with Mommy Guilt right now, and the more I fight it, the deeper I seem to dig myself into this dark hole. Anytime you alter the family dynamic, you are going to create feelings of uncertainty. I knew when I was pregnant that these days would come, but can you ever truly prepare?
I had heard horror stories of having two kids in diapers. I had heard tales of freshly potty-trained siblings reverting to diapers and bed wetting once a baby came home. I don't believe I forced Caroline to potty train. She actually caught on to the concept pretty easily. Nevertheless, now we are having terrible times in the bathroom. Logically, I think that is her sense of "control". If she holds her tee-tee or poo, then she has control over something...anything. Naturally her lack of confidence and need for control reflects on me, right? It's all my fault. She has gone from Mommy's baby girl to the middle child lost between the kindergartner and the new baby. Caroline must believe she has lost her footing in this family.
Rob used to have the best manners. Maybe saying "ma'am" and "sir" to everyone is becoming more of a regional-dialect thing, but here in the deep south of Alabama, it is still seen as respectful. Rob used to nail it. Now I know that once I sent him to the "melting pot of negative personality attributes" more commonly known as public school, Rob would start bringing home some bad habits which would need addressing. However, I guess I thought I would be able to simply reinstate Rob's good behavior and move on. Instead, I find myself tense all the time and speaking tersely to everyone around me -- including Rob. I am not leading by example at all. Who am I to correct Rob's manners when I can't seem to show any respect to anyone around me?
Also, Rob spent the night with my in-laws last night. We texted them just asking, "Hey, how's he doing?" This is the response we received: "He has been fine. I think all the adjustments are just getting to him, too." Whoa! That was probably supposed to be a simple, innocent, he-is-having-a-blast-at-grandma's-house response, but this is what my Mommy Guilt heard: You know that hell-hold you created by over-populating the Earth? Well it has gotten the best of Rob and he is so thankful to be over here and have a reprieve from the chaos at your house. Great job, mother-of-the-year! Ouch...
Our dinnertime routines have gone out the window. We haven't sat around the table and had a family conversation in I can't tell you how long. We set a school night bedtime of 8:00 PM but that rarely happens. In the mornings when Rob is exhausted and I am bemoaning that he needs to go to bed earlier, I remember that I am usually bathing the kids while nursing a baby in the bathroom and rushing them to bed shortly after swaddling the newborn praying he will sleep for the next three hours.
Then there's William; bless his heart. He has been nursed in my car twice -- once at Target because I just had to get out of the house and sure enough he got hungry, and once at the bus stop because he always seems to be hungry around 3:30 PM when I have to get Rob. I mean, he truly is a helpless, innocent infant. It's not his fault that I force him to fit into "my" schedule" rather than vice-versa. I try to spend time with Rob and Caroline, and sometimes that means Will has to cry for a bit. Sure, it's making his lungs strong, but I worry that I am conditioning him to either be overly self-sacrificing or overly loud to make sure he gets listened to from time to time.
So, what do I do right around here? My kids are healthy; they have a roof over their head; they never go to bed hungry; they wear clothes and shoes that are neat, clean, and stylish; we go to church on a regular basis; we do not watch violence or smut on TV in front of the kids; we live in one of the top 100 places to live; and we send them to a well-respected award-winning school system. Why isn't that enough?
To those of you who reading this who have had kids and perhaps they are well-adjusted older children, how did you get through it? To those of you with only one child and and you are thinking of adding to your family, please don't let me scare you. It can't really be as bad as it feels, can it? I believe in my heart that this guilt will pass, which is why I wake up everyday thanking God for another day of being Rob, Caroline, and Will's mommy. But then there are moments that engulf me when I just feel so sorry for my children, and I worry that they will someday take me on some D-list psychologist's talk show to berate me for the zoo-like childhood they were forced to endure.
Thank you for reading, and please continue to pray for the solid family dynamic -- pray I can provide it to my children and pray that families everywhere get to experience love and trust.