My blog is a mirror

standard June 10, 2014 3 responses

Twice now, in the last few weeks, I have written a blog post about something going on in my life, something I thought I’d share because I know, for a fact, that many people could and would relate to what I had to say. Then, as I am sometimes wont to do, I left the posts in draft and went about my business for a day or two to see if I still wanted to push them live.

Neither post has seen the light of day. Instead, they’ve pushed me to take a long hard look at how I was behaving. Instead of hitting publish, I’ve chosen to change my ways.

The first post was actually written just over a month ago and was about yelling. Because we all yell, right? I know we do, I talk about it with my friends. Parenting is stressful and often frustrating, and there are times when we yell. It’s a fact of parenthood.

The post was an almost tongue in cheek look at the way a morning had gone from fine to not fine at all in the short span of time between me getting up and all of us getting out the door. I didn’t share it right away because even writing it made me feel uncomfortable.

Why exactly did I feel the need to yell that morning? Because Little L took 30 minutes to eat breakfast and another 20 to put on a dress, two socks, and two shoes? Because she needed to be reminded, again, to brush her teeth? Because we were maybe going to be five minutes late for school?

That night I reread that post and realized just how damaging our near-regular morning routine must be on my shy kid with low self-esteem. The next morning I didn’t yell.

The morning after that I didn’t yell.

I haven’t yelled in the morning since that day.

We still haven’t been late for school. And a couple days ago, my shy retiring kid struck up a conversation with a cashier at the grocery store. Her sister and I looked at each other in utter shock.

Last week I wrote another post about another one of my failings. This time about my near obsessive addiction to television series and the way I seem to be unable to stop chain watching episode after episode until I have blessedly reached the end of the series and can finally get on with my day to day life.

That night, as I went to bed, having once again left the post in draft because I truly didn’t like my conclusions, I asked myself what, of the things I do day in and day out, the things that take up all of my time, with the kids, when I’m alone, when I’m working, and when I’m not, what makes me happy, what makes me feel fulfilled.

Watching TV wasn’t on the list.

I enjoy a well written show. I like knitting in front of the TV. I like a good story probably more than the average person. But, at the end of the day, if I’ve spent my time writing, reading, playing with the kids, spending time with friends, walking the dog, laughing with my husband, I feel fulfilled. If I’ve spent my time watching episode after episode of a TV show, no matter how great a show it might be, I feel antsy and a bit empty.

That post was never published.

I haven’t watched a TV show during the day since I wrote it.

I’ve been tempted. I’ve rationalized that I could stream something while answering emails, while doing research, while editing photos. But I’ve turned on Pandora instead and let the music fill the silence in my office.

I’ve been blogging for a very, very long time now and I’ve never quite realized just how much of a mirror this blog has been for me. It’s helped me see how I parent. It’s helped me discern patterns in my life, which in turn has helped me better recognize and manage any ups and downs that I might face.

I am grateful to this space and to those that visit it for not only helping me become a better writer over the years, but a better person along the way.

Do more of what makes you happy. Carmel McConnell

The dirty truths no one likes to share with new moms

standard December 19, 2008 30 responses

“I am so tired.” She said, “why don’t they tell you about this?”
“Bu-uh-ut,” I stammered. “I did tell you.” And I had, over and over again, for at least the last four months of her her pregnancy.
“Oh, I know,” she answered. “I just didn’t realize that no sleep, meant really no sleep.”
I thought back to all the times I’d tried to warn her and I knew I was partially to blame. It’s true. We don’t tell our pregnant friends everything, not because we don’t think they can take it, not because we don’t think they’ll believe us, but because it hurts to relive it and it’s easier to joke about sleepless nights than to go into details about how hard it really is.

So, my dears, here it is, the dirty dirty truth. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

No one tells you that you will stand in the shower day after day and sob because you can’t stand the thought of getting out and facing your baby again. No one tells you that some days you stand in that shower and it takes all your willpower not to curl up into a ball on the ground under the pelting shower stream. You don’t let yourself because you know that you’d never get up again.

No one tells you that with every lost hour of sleep you go slowly a bit more crazy and that the middle of the night is the darkest, scariest, and loneliest time. That you will dread the dusk because it’s the signal that night is coming and you just don’t know if you can survive another night.

No one tells you that you will grow to hate being touched and that some days it will again take all your willpower not to scream when someone places a hand on you, even as a gesture of love and support. By the same token, no one tells you that you will grow to hate sex or even the promise of sex and resent the person requiring it from you. Sex becomes just another chore at the end of a long and tedious day of tending to people’s needs. A chore that requires a lot of touching.

No one tells you that spending all day with a baby is boring. Mindnumbingly boring.

No one tells you that you will feel like half your brain has up and left you. You will forget everything. You will lose the ability to multi-task. You will lose the ability to form a coherent sentence.

No one tells you that you will resent, and even sometimes hate your kids, for many, many things like destroying your body and stealing your brain.

No one tells you that you’re going to lose your hair by the fistful and pee your pants when you sneeze.

No one tells you that you will hate breastfeeding. That it’s going to be the hardest thing you will ever have done. That your nipples will crack and bleed and that you will have to bite down on something, a blanket, your t-shirt, a burp cloth, every time the baby latches on. That you might not produce any milk or that you might produce too much and that you’re going to feel betrayed by your boobs over and over again. And yet you will persevere long beyond what a rational person would endure and yet you won’t be able to articulate why you can’t just quit and admit defeat already.

No one tells you how relieved you will be if you do finally throw in the towel and just focus on enjoying your baby or when miraculously your nursing woes vanish and you suddenly realize that you haven’t needed to bite down on something during the latch in a while.

No one tells you that you will feel like every other mother is doing a much better job and that you know they think you’re a terrible mom.

No one tells you that you will constantly second guess every little parenting decision you make.

No one tells you that you will be sure that your baby secretly hates you.

No one tells you that you’re terrified that your child will love her daycare providers more than you. And they might tell you that it’s not true, but you won’t believe them until you see it for yourself.

No one tells you that you will eventually grow to want sex again. That you’ll want to be hugged and touched again. That you’ll have time to spend with your partner and that you’ll want it that way.

No one tells you that you will fall in love with your baby, maybe not on day one or even on day 30, but on one day, when you will wake up and look into those eyes and understand why people kill to protect their children.

No one tells you just how much your life will change, how much you will change, how much your relationship with others will change. Or how OK you will eventually be with all that, once you make peace with your body’s shortcomings and finally, finally, get some sleep.