In the last few months, Andy and I have begun to reinvent our marriage. I've fallen in love with him all over again, and in that regard, I've learned to love MYSELF again as well. As I've watched the baby weight come off, I've also regained the feeling in my right leg and foot (my knee is still tight, but I can move.) The year is coming to a close, and I wonder to myself if I will remember anything that happened in the past 12 months, or if it will be one of those things my brain will shut out.
No matter who preps you, what kind of advice you are given, or how many books and magazines you read- nothing can prepare you for parenthood. It's like going to college, taking a class with no set curriculum, and then being tested daily. All the professor does is scream and throw food at you and make the sign for "more" while pointing at inanimate objects.
The other week Liam started to break out all over his belly and back. I thought it was dry skin. Babies get dry skin, right? I figured it was from a lotion I was using, and immediately went out and bought the dye-free, alcohol-free, everything-free lotion and started rubbing him daily. The was to no avail. The bumps and spots were still there. He wasn't eating. He was still active as ever, but he wasn't "himself."
I need to stop for a second and talk about an intricacy in my relationship with my husband; he feeds off of my emotion. If I seem uptight, he gets uptight. If I'm in pain, he gets uptight. If I'm angry, he gets uptight. If I'm depressed, he gets uptight. So in order to run our lives in a smooth, orderly manner, I know I need to keep calm and carry on. OR, in the very least, give my husband warning when I'm going to lose control.
This is also true of your child. Children and babies can smell fear. So even when your world is crashing down around you, your eyebrows need to stay up and your voice needs to stay perky. I agree that you need to teach your children that it's okay to have emotions and how to deal with life's issues. But children are also on a "need to know" basis. Sometimes? They just don't need to know.
Andy encouraged me to take him to the doctor, which I refused. "He's fine!" I assured him. "I know my child!" But after two weeks, his rash wasn't going away and he still wasn't eating. So into the doctor we went.
Did you know strep sometimes presents itself in rash form? Evidently I was the only one on the planet (besides my mom, who also did not know) that in small children, strep will present itself in little red bumps all over the belly and back. How was I supposed to know? She prescribed a Z-pak in liquid form and $50 later, my son was on the mend. (Yeah, $50. That's WITH insurance.)
As of last night, Liam hasn't eaten for a few days. For supper we convinced him to eat five grape tomatoes. Last night, Liam started wheezing. And then he started barking like a seal. I brought him into bed with us and listened to his chest. "Mommy is nervous about that cough, Little Bug!" I said in a cheerful voice. Right away Andy got uptight. "Call the doctor. What should we do? Call her right now. Give him something. What should we do? Will you call the doctor?"
I sighed. "No, I'm not going to call the doctor. I'm going to set up the humidifier and hold him while he sleeps."
"You know I get uptight when I feel helpless."
And there it was. The proof that the woman is really the heart of the household. Why is that? Is it that inborn sense? That "motherly intuition" with which we supposedly leave the hospital? Why do children run to daddy when they want to play, but sulk to mommy when they're sick or hurt? What is it that even as an adult, I will call my mom and talk for hours, but when it comes to my dad (whom I love desperately) my regular phone conversation with him is, "Can I talk to mom?"
More often than not, I feel I'm not giving my husband the attention he needs. I need to do better on that. We have this phrase we use when we feel out of control: I need centered. That's usually a clue that we need a hug, or some quiet, or some time to sit and be a veggie for a while. In the same respect, my husband needs a wife- not a mom. So here I am with all this "motherly instinct" and for a moment I have to turn it off and be a wife again.
Confession: I called my husband "Liam" during an intimate moment the other night. I had hoped he didn't notice, but he probably did. But how many times during a day do I say my son's name? How tired was I at that very moment? It happens. This is why, if you have siblings, your parents probably went through a slew of names before they got to yours. I just now realized this. It's because they were drained- and now, so are you.
A friend of mine is the daughter of a colonial in the US Army. For most of her formative years, her mother was in Afghanistan. She and her father are very, very close because he was Mr. Mom for a good portion of her adolescence. My friend recently got married. During this time she sent a text to her mom: There are no colonials invited to this wedding, only moms.
It's hard to turn off ALL those other things you're used to doing and focus on one job. Women are so used to multi-tasking. Why? Because we have no other choice. My husband took our son to the mall to do some Christmas shopping and repeatedly text me through the trip: I don't know how single parents do it. Single Parents?! I do it every day! But I don't say that- I only say: you are an AMAZING dad. Because he is. How many dads do you see at the mall with a 14 month old child?
Next time you're pressed from every angle, remember that you are the heart. You can live without many of your organs. Even your brain can fail, but if your heart is still beating, you're still technically living. Feeling like you're having cardiac arrest? Check yourself first. What's going on with you? Fix it, and then start to beat again.