Sometimes, being a working mom with two kids is really hard. Not just hard....painful. Like having your wisdom teeth pulled kind of painful. Or having 10 paper cuts on your lip. Or the one time you go to the grocery store looking like a creature from the swamp (who am I kidding, that's every time!), and the guy in line in front of you is incredibly hot and he gives you a look like, "oh, a street urchin" and you want to reply to his unimpressed glances by saying, "no, I swear, I really look good when I try...I promise. Just yesterday a 45 year old man at Red Robin couldn't keep his eyes off me!" Then you realize you will be turning 30 this year and you already regularly shop at the grocery store wearing yoga pants and a baseball hat just like all those OTHER moms you swore you would never be...you know, the kind that simply have given up. Yeah, that kind of painful.
Tonight, I was grilling corn, boiling potatoes, and cooking pork chops all at the same time, when a smell erupted from the living room. Ryan had pooped. Third time since we arrived home an hour earlier. I stepped away from all three cooking items to change his diaper. While I was changing his diaper, I was trying to keep him from wriggling away and I was also handling a temper tantrum from Jacob who was pouting because Ryan was holding the TV remote.
After things were...managed (but not quite settled), I returned to the kitchen to watch as the buttermilk in my gravy was curdling before my very eyes. I dumped it out to start from scratch when I could smell burning coming from the grill, with the gravy pan still in my hand, I rushed out to salvage the corn. As I passed the living room Ryan was kicking Jacob (who had stolen back the remote) and Jacob was screaming in return. Right at that moment, I looked at my life and thought, "How the hell are we going to have a third kid?" (Tonight was my husband's gym night, which is why I was fending for myself).
Between a five year old's stubborn insolence and a two year old's violent tantrums, how are two working parents going to handle a newborn?! Some days, I'm so rushed in the morning, I forget to put on deodorant. Some days, I'm so exhausted at night that I lay on my bed to rest my back and wake up seven hours later. That would be a rare full night of sleep (most nights, I only get 5.5 hours). Some days, I'm so frustrated with my children that I gleefully entertain the thought of creating a child'sized jail cell in our basement. Today, I was so exhausted that as I was standing at the gas pump, I totally forgot my phone number for two whole, long minutes. Then I forgot how to put gas in my car and ended up spraying gasoline all over my shoes and my (better believe it!) yoga pants. At least I had the common sense NOT to blast my seat warmers on the way home. I don't know how I would explain the spontaneous combustion of my gasoline soaked butt to an insurance agent.
Today at my office desk, I was knee deep in a complex motion and just had my ear yelled off by a very angry opposing counsel. Then a miracle happened. My OB's office number appeared across my cell phone. They were answering a voicemail I had left earlier about some weird symptoms I had been having. The lady on the other end offered me a proposition, "Your symptoms are generally harmless. But to put your mind at ease we can have you come in to do a check on your thyroid."
I thought about the long motion in front of me. "Will this involve taking my blood?"
"Yes, we'll have you come down and we'll take a vial or two of blood. It's really simple."
Hmmm. Sit in front of my computer while employment law causes caverns of my brain to implode inside my head as my inbox fills up with threatening emails from opposing counsel or sit in a quiet room at my OB's office while they poke my arm with needles? It was not a hard decision. I told them I would be right there.
I arrived at the office and was taken to the back room. And for the next 10 minutes, I was the center of attention. It was all about me. Wow, when was the last time everything was all about me? I mentioned that I was a fainter (which is true but I've learned that if you say this, you get special treatment) so they nurse took me to a quiet room in the back with a giant, overstuffed leather recliner. I sprawled out on that chair as if I were a queen at a day spa. The nurse brought me crackers and a juice box (for my blood sugar, wink). I sipped that juice box as if it were a fancy umbrella drink and munched those crackers delicately as if they were mini cream cheese sandwiches or asparagus wrapped in a fine prosciutto.
I took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, and enjoyed the peace and quiet as I felt a sharp prick in my arm. The pain of the prink lingered much longer than I had anticipated as the nurse filled not one, but two, vials of my blood. And then, all too suddenly, it was over. "You're good to go," the nurse said.
"That's it?" I asked, trying to mask my disappointment. "That was fast. Are you sure you don't need anything else while I'm here? Can I do a glucose test? Do you need to give me a rubella shot?" Whatever the price of admission for ten more minutes in that chair, I would have gladly paid it. When it was clear that there was no convincing the nurse, I popped up out of the chair and went on my way. Back to reality. I would have gladly been pricked ten more times if it meant resting in that quiet room and reclining in that comfy chair just a little longer.
So yeah, I'm slightly over whelmed at times. Luckily, while no day is 100% good, no day is 100% bad either. Even hard days are interspersed with shining little moments that make you swell with pride, that fill your eyes with happy tears, that make you bust a ligament from laughing too hard.
Like when your two year old eats his corn like this:
Or when your five year old sings you a song that he made up.
Or when your baby eats a sandwich like a big boy.
Moments filled with cuddles.
And, yes, even bath tub popsicle time.
Those little moments are the rich fuel that keeps me going through all the moments of frustration and exhaustion. They are so powerful that suddenly, everything is forgotten. Clenched fists and tight jaws turn into hugs and smiles. The strongest anger is flattened in a second. It's hard to stay mad. The innocence and uninhibited play of children evokes a power that is greater than any grudge or negative emotion. A child can make you smile even through the the most haggard exhaustion. What a power to wield, especially coming from such a unwitting and unaware master.
Still, I'm not naive. I know with a third child, the hard moments are going to get harder, and much harder. But I take comfort knowing that the happy moments will, no doubt, get happier. The love will continue to overflow. And I know that while routines will change, and work loads will shift, and emotions may get crazy, we can handle it. We will take it just the way we handle things now: one day at a time (and with a boatload of ice cream sandwiches and very strong margaritas).
Still, I'll never pass up a moment to give blood at a doctor's office. If it means a brief escape from the craziness of life.