September 16, 2009
Parenthood really tests your limits. So far, our family consists of a mom, a dad, a two-year-old, a neurotic 11-year-old dog and a very active fetus. I know single moms taking care of two children, happily married moms taking care of four children, and others with two to three children who are happily married but whose husbands are seemingly constantly away on business.
I don’t know how they do it.
I have to remind myself from time to time that no one “does it all.” Even if it seems like they do, it’s probably just what it looks like to someone on the outside. And even when you scratch beneath the surface and it still looks like they’re “doing it all,” they’re not.
Anyone “doing it all” is neglecting something, usually themselves.
I have to remind myself of this because it helps keep me from despairing when I feel like I’m failing as a mom, wife, translator or member of society. In fact, I have to remind myself in general of the deceptiveness of the feeling of “the grass is always greener on the other side.” For example, some of my favorite blogs include Soule Mama, Betz White and Angry Chicken. And when I read their thoughts and see their pictures, it’s easy to think my life would be easier and more harmonious if I didn’t live in a big metropolis. So many of the things I value in family life seem so much easier to include in said life when you live somewhere a little quieter. And then I have to remind myself that a) I’m not seeing the whole picture of any of these women’s lives, and b) there are things about living in a big city that I would miss horribly. I see my Ozzie friend Amanda raising her two young children while her husband jets around the globe on business, and I see her do it with such seeming effortlessness, that I wonder if I’m just plain incompetent.
But if I really stop and think about it, I’m not incompetent, and while city living does make certain family rituals much harder to establish and uphold, it’s not the reason I feel like a failure sometimes.
I am, quite simply, overwhelmed right now.
Why, you ask?
- I have a two-year-old;
- I am six months pregnant;
- This pregnancy, while not high-risk, has been very hard;
- I have been laid up with a sinus infection for the last seven days;
- My social network in Berlin has shrunk to miniscule proportions;
- We’re going through a major financial rough spot (oddly enough, totally unrelated to the global financial crisis, but I’ll address this whole can of worms in another post);
- And lastly, alas, after 28+ years of life in this body, I still tend to bite off more than I can chew.
June 11, 2009
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one part of your life starts looking up, another part falls spectacularly to pieces.”
This quotation from Bridget Jones’s Diary (an homage to the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice) has been rattling around my brain the last few days. My pregnancy symptoms have lessened in severity, I have been able to sleep at least half the time and Marie’s sleep has also begun to improve a little. And then, on Monday, I got a phone call from Toffi.
He was supposed to be playing soccer. If the game had been canceled, he would have called earlier. But it was too early for the game to be over already. I instantly knew something was up.
“Yeah, hi. I think I just broke my arm. I’m on my way to the hospital. Can you text me my health insurance info?”
Three hours and change later, Toffi came home with a cast on his arm. But I hadn’t even heard the real news yet. The fracture is very complicated, and it won’t heal properly unless he has surgery and a titanium pin implanted. And for reasons that I still haven’t completely managed to understand, he needs to stay in the hospital for 4-5 days after the surgery so that he can be under close observation in case his body rejects the foreign object. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning. So for the next five days, Marie and I will be making daily trips to the hospital to visit her papa. I hope it doesn’t freak her out too much.
April 16, 2009
I’ve been slowly crawling out of the deep, dark hole of my annual springtime depression. For as long as I’ve been living with depression – indeed, for as long as I can remember – the months of February, March and April have always been the worst. For some reason, the emergence of the sun and warmer days makes me feel worse, not better. Perhaps it’s the notion that I should be enjoying the season but that for some reason, I just can’t, that makes me feel so rotten. This year, the whole dark cloud started a bit earlier than usual, and maybe that’s why I’m starting to feel better earlier than in most years.
That being said, I’ve been feeling worse physically since my mental and emotional recovery. Last week, I had what I suspect was a mild case of food poisoning. I say mild because I didn’t spend entire nights or days on the bathroom floor, much less the hospital. But I did spend entire days in bed, forcing myself to sip water and nibble on pretzels and cursing the fact that you can’t buy Saltines in Germany. The closest thing is zwieback, which is like teething biscuits and just isn’t the same.
But even that is starting to get better, and I hope to be writing a lot more very soon. There are updates on my breastfeeding experience, new book reviews, some potty training insights and a few “how-to” posts coming up in the near future. So stay tuned!
March 23, 2009
There’s lots of information out there on what to do when your breastfeeding baby is sick (and I’ll be adding my own 2 cents soon), but there’s less on the subject of what to do if you are sick an your baby or toddler is perfectly healthy. Believe it or not, this happens pretty easily when you’re breastfeeding, since your breastmilk already gives your nursling an armada of antibodies to fight whatever you have, leaving your child better armed against that specific infection than you yourself are. Since I just spent a weekend with my nearly 22-month-old daughter while fighting a sore throat and a general feeling of flu-like ickiness, I thought I’d share my tips and tricks for this kind of situation.
1. If your spouse/partner is at home, put him in charge. Seriously, don’t accept excuses; put your foot down and get as much rest as possible.
2. If #1 is not an option (and for me, it wasn’t, since my husband works weekends), get help. Ask a neighbor to bring you a couple things the next time he/she is going to the grocery store, ask a neighbor with a dog of their own to take yours for a short walk. Ask a neighbor with kids the same age if your older children can go over there for an emergency playdate. Don’t feel shy – just do it. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. If they say yes, offer to do the same for them if they find themselves in a similar bind.
February 25, 2009
I was really inspired by this post at Simple Mom. Simple Mom has some wonderful ideas for simplifying your life, streamlining your budget, and just generally getting more out of simply being alive on this planet. In today’s guest post by Lisa Byrne, there are great insights into what it means to run your body ragged – what it does to you mentally, physically, spiritually – and how to refuel your tank sustainably. Point 15 particularly resonated with me: Lisa advises us to reconsider draining personal relationships. This was a lesson I learned the hard way, while struggling with a very long and persistent illness. It’s interesting that there can be such a close connection between our physical well-being and the energy our friends and family give us (or take away).