Sunday, January 9, 2011

Balance


I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  Maybe it's my "naturally defiant" streak (as DH calls it), but if I feel too much pressure to do something, I am less likely to do it.  One of my friends said she has never heard me swear more than when I gave it up for Lent years ago.  And besides, if I really need to feel inadequate about something, I have plenty of other benchmarks I could use to measure my shortcomings.  Hello, pre-twin-pregnancy clothes hanging unworn in my closet!  Yes, I do miss having a waist, thanks for asking.

But as this new year begins, I feel something missing in my life that I'd like to reclaim, even though I know it's going to be a long road.  Let's not call it a resolution... let's call it a theme.  Like "Under the Sea" or "'80s Flashback."

I want -- no, desperately need -- more  b a l a n c e.

No, not the balance that would keep me from bumping into walls so often.  I don't really know why it tends to happen, and as long as DH doesn't see me do it and try unsuccessfully to stifle a chuckle, it doesn't really bother me too much.  I'm not a Rockette, the bruises hide easily enough.

But what I seek is the kind of balance that involves reducing some portion of my focus that is spent on my children (currently 99.9%) and move it back to anything else whatsoever (currently .1%).  The year 2010 was entirely devoted to the kids, and mostly the twins at that.  Starting on January 4, I spent three months on complete bedrest, living almost every second on my back to keep them healthy.  I thank God constantly that that was all it took to arrive at two enormous and healthy boys, but still... it wasn't exactly like reclining on a lounge chair by the pool.  And then the next nine months I struggled to care for twinfants plus a toddler.  Again, I feel so entirely blessed and love each of them to my absolute core.  But that doesn't negate the exhaustion that comes from month after month of frequent night wakings and meeting the ceaseless demands of three small people, even with my super-stellar support system.

I just feel spent.  There is little, if anything, left in my personal reserve.  I don't mean to sound like a martyr, but last year I sacrificed a lot of myself to care of other people, and I rarely get to take care of myself.

You know, like a martyr.

I subscribe to the theory that when you are a mother, you need to take care of yourself first, your marriage second, and your kids third.  Just like when you are on an airplane and there's a loss of cabin pressure, you need to put your own oxygen mask first before assisting those around you.  Not to compare motherhood to an aircraft spiraling dangerously out of the sky... but the kidlets did wake me up literally SIX times on Friday night, so yeah, sometimes it does seem that way.  Anyway, I just mean that if you are an emotional wreck, and your marriage is in turmoil, the kids are going to suffer.  It's okay -- actually, it's necessary and good -- to make sure you are taking the time and energy to keep yourself sane and your relationship with your partner solid. Your kids will benefit not only while they are growing up, but hopefully into adulthood as they start their own families.

But it's easy to pay lip service to the idea of having balance.  With two infants and a two year old at home, I'm finding it nearly impossible to actually do it.  It is really, really hard for me to leave home during the day right now, because I am trying to maintain the sanctity of nap time for all three of the kids.  Dragging both twins out when they are tired in order to participate in an activity for Bean is a recipe for a gigantic family meltdown of epic proportions.  When Bean was the twins' age, we would bop all over town in between his snoozes, and I loved connecting with other moms wherever we went.  I was energized and honestly the happiest I've been in my life.  But now, I find myself retreating into my computer to find any sort of link to the outside world, which isn't really the best thing and doesn't add much to my depleted reserves.

I would love to do something for myself, like hot yoga or read a book or spend a Saturday shopping with my mom.  But DH works long hours, and because I'm still nursing the twins frequently, it's difficult to leave them for any significant period of time.  Sadly, my plan for balance in 2011 does include weaning them after their first birthday in April.  I will miss the bonding, but I am really burned out and looking forward to letting some real cows do the hard work from then on.  I'm also hoping that weaning will help them sleep better at night.  I believe that is one of my biggest obstacles to having balance: I am desperate for more sleep.  The extended sleep deprivation has me very worn out.  Even if I had the time and babysitters to go shopping with my mom, my body would rather just blob around on the couch.  Bean didn't sleep through the night until he was 14 months old, but the twins are waking more often than he did at this age.  It's killer.

Anyway, I suppose this turned into a big poor-me rant.  But that's not what I intended.  I just hoped to honestly share how much this past year has kicked my butt.  I wouldn't give up my family for anything, but it has not been easy to get where we are.  I am hoping that the hardest is behind us, and maybe I can rejoin the world again soon.

I'd love to hear your thoughts... did you ever find your life sliding so hard in one direction that you had to put on the brakes and realign?  How did you do it?

Photobucket

20 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Wait, is that actually a picture of YOU!?!?

Aisha said...

Wait. A picture of you!!! EEEK! Hi pretty lady :) It's like the Wizard of Oz pulled back the curtain! (but in a good way!)

And incase misery loves company- I hear you (to a smaller level since I'm with just one kid not three babes)on the constant feedings and not sleeping through the night- in the same boat as you- every 2-3 hours all night long- I think maybe I should do CIO- but keep coming up w/ excuses not to at this point.

Anyways I hope you find the balance you seek- I do miss your regular blogging!

kmina said...

Whenever I feel beyond tired and worn out, I think of you. Really. And I tell myself that compared to you, I am having a walk in the park and should just quit complaining. Except I can exactly quit complaining, it's a lifetime long hard-to-break habit.
My head is empty, so no advice.
But I do love your picture. ;-)

'Murgdan' said...

You are absolutely 100% right. If I didn't have my work, which I go to 5 days a week, I'd pull my hair out. Which is ironic, since I hate going to work and being away from my gorgeous baaaaaaby...but it's time away to 'define' myself in another way. Though between work and mommy-ing...I've definitely let 'taking care of me' and my 'marriage' fall through the cracks. WE are planning on working on those this year.

'Murgdan' said...

Also, since you are my baby-wearing guru...can you recommend a carrier that can be easily used for a back carry...much as I've tried, I cannot get the hang of the Moby backwards..... (or at least my husband eventually makes me stop for fear of the baby's safety once he gets annoyed that I'm still trying).

Mary said...

No words of wisdom b/c I've btdt (minus the toddler too) and as much as we love our kids sometimes parenting sucks. I know I keep saying this (and someday you'll believe me) it DOES get easier, each 6 months for us has been easier than the previous and there will come a time when you enjoy more moments without stressing as much. The nap thing was huge and on your horizon the twinnies will be down to one nap which will open up your schedule to get out considerably! Also have you investigated any Mothers Day (or Morning) out programs, they must exist in your area and may give you a few hours of sanity a few days a week.

Hang in there mama and I miss you too!!

Dean said...

All the twin moms I know with 3 kids have a live in nanny or the oldest in daycare, so doing it all on your own, bravo!

I only have twins, and its busy, but, I weened at 6months, my supply was low, so all that nursing, pumping,formula making bottle feeding, was wearing me out. So I stopped, if I had only one baby I would have continued, but with 2, I just needed to survive!

Speaking of survival, we have our own routine, we did go to a twin mom grow but everyone insisted on doing things in the morning, and that just doesn't work around here! We play and nap in the morning, then the afternoon we either go for a run, or walk, or errands.

My DH is fantastic at taking care of me, I go swimming twice a week in the night, and walking one night with my neighbors, and he is on baby patrol, but he only works around 50 hours a week, so he has a lighter load(and has a short 10 minute commute).

So, hang in there, I'm pro bottle and formula so you can have a life!

strongblonde said...

i know where you're coming from. you do need balance. in my opinion, i think the first year with twins is really just spent figuring stuff out and redefining your life a little bit. after that, and after you wean them, you have a new found freedom!

...but i'm really not one to talk. i've been out three times since the kids were born and they're almost 16 months.

maybe i need some better balance, too? can't wait to see what people respond! lol

E said...

I couldn't tell if that was you or your mom!! It's a younger mini-me of your mother.

All I have to say is I am tired with ONE baby let alone 3. Viktor has totally changed his routine of sleeping through the night about a month and a half ago (I know you are probably thinking about time ;)) getting up multiple times a night will wear anyone down.


I hope you find some balance soon. Sounds like you need some time off.

Coffeegrljp said...

I have zero ideas for achieving balance. We keep trying what is know as the "crapshoot" approach. ;) I'm totally with you!

Jamie said...

Add two part time jobs and this is exactly how I felt 6 months ago. The biggest help to achieving more balance (which I feel that I have more, but I am definitely not totally there) was sending the kids to child care 3 mornings a week from 9 to 1. They go to a neighbor who lives 3 blocks away and even though I work during that time, just having that time away from them to focus on something else helped my perspective immensely. Bean is in preschool correct? Is there anywhere that you could take the twinks one or two mornings a week to give you some time? I pumped at night for the feeding they missed while they were at child care.

You also have to make time for a date night with your hubby at least once every 2 weeks. We pay a babysitter to come to our house but maybe your parents could come 2 nights a month if you don't want to hire a sitter? At first, when the girls were still nursing before bed we didn't go out until after they were all in bed (7:30 or 8ish) but now that they don't nurse before bed any more we can go out earlier. Just getting out - even if it is just for pizza and a decaf Starbucks can be heavenly, even when you are exhausted.

It gets better as they grow and it will be a little easier when they stop nursing too, but the challenges just become different. As a mom of three very young children we have to fight to keep some semblance of ourselves in the midst of parenting and it is probably the most difficult thing we will ever do. Truly, we need to be three people - our self, a mom, and a wife. That isn't really possible.

I am not sure any of that rambling was actually helpful, but just know that you're not alone. If you read my archives from when my girls were your boys age, you'll find very similiar posts.

*hugs*

Pufferfish said...

Is it YOU? Or is it your mom?? I seriously can't tell, you two look like sisters if that's a photo of you!
I don't know how you are surviving with the sleep deprivation combined with having a toddler as well.
For us, we are just now feeling like we are swimming with our heads above water and the twins are just short of a year old. I do feel like we turned a major corner around 9 months and things just kept getting better and better. BUT, they were STTN earlier than yours and the only time they did the middle of the night nursings was because of teething or sickness. That will really wear you out on a daily basis.
We are working on getting our relationship back and creating some more "ME" time.
It's true what they say, the first year of twins--especially if you are committed to breast feeding--it's one mostly of survival. There's not much of a 'life' to speak of.
Good Luck honey. It does get better.

Alisa said...

Ok, remember the theme of my blog as you read this....
Wean 'em now toots! They're FINE and you've bonded well (maybe too well if you're feeling unbalanced) and maybe it's time to let others take some of that weight. Gavin was only home from the NICU for a month and I had to give it up and he is smart, healthy and happy today - and I was happier and less stressed trying to keep up with what I thought he needed. Wean 'em and use that time to do what you WANT, no NEED to do to make yourself whole again. It's a new year - make it your "theme" to return to "Sunny". I'll be there cheering you on!

Sarah said...

Love the balance with the babies picture! I wouldn't worry about seeming like a martyr or having a big "poor-me rant" because sometimes it's just worth getting out and so many of us can relate in our own little way! I don't know what it is like with twins, but I can relate with a husband who works too many hours and has a horrible commute (horrible for me anyway). It gets lonely and exhausting. I kept telling myself I needed to go back to work because when I was back at work after Halle I felt like I got a resemblance of myself back. That being said, returning to work this time didn't work out and much of that was because of my own choice (they'd be too often in daycare and it would all fall on me - no thanks). You sacrifice a lot being a mom and my faith is in what many people tell me when I personally am spent - "it gets MUCH easier in a few years and we'll look back and miss this stage." (Yeah, right... ha!).

Nursing does tie your hands, I agree, but I liked doing it too and made it until both my kiddos were over a year old. By the time they were six months old they weren't nursing so much anyway. Can you cut back a bit on how many feedings they get during the day? Do they do full on feedings each time or just snacks? If you can cut back perhaps you can get a bigger window to give yourself an outing. That said, Len and I never went on a date night before 7pm because we put both kids to bed due to nursing. It's crazy, but you do what you can do.

Here's a story for you: today we had crazy snow that shut down the entire city. While our neighbors were out all day having a blast sledding, building forts and snowmen, and hanging out around a fire pit drinking cocoa, my family was stuck inside with the stomach flu. Whenever one of my babies got sick and I had to clean it up, it made me sick again. Yeah, story of our lives! Moms cannot ever get sick, but thankfully for the snow, Len was home to help! Yeah! Short lived victory though because I'm sure I'll be taking care of him tomorrow! Ha!

I'm with you sister! You are doing an amazing job and no one could do it better! To April and some more freedom! It got better much better for us after G turned a year (we scheduled regular date nights - were really bad about that before), but now are back in a rut again as you can foresee.

Lisa said...

GASP! It's your head in the photos!! :) LOVE it!
Ok so I can only kinda relate since I am 1 less child than you, but our boys are about the same ages. I often felt like even with my friends, they didnt get the added challenge of 2 small ones compared to 1. We couldnt be as flexible as we used to be. DH and I both work so I would often turn events down b/c I know its a challenge to deal on your own.....BUT I digress. We hit a year....the boys are able to actually "play" together now and be together w/o my constant watch and GASP....we have been going out to eat for the first time in what feels like years again...even if it is just to a dive burger joint after church! :)

ANYWAY, you are doing an awesome job, momma...and things will get easier. And one day soon, the 5 of you will be out and about doing something fun and you will think, when did this happen? :) Hang in there, GOOD & BALANCED times are soon to come!!

Jen said...

I totally didn't even notice the whole picture of you thing until I read the comments. Since I already see you I guess I totally forgot that you don't post pics on your blog :)

As for the balance thing, let me just say I have it about 10 times easier than you. Only one infant and a daily outing to a job, makes a big difference I think. Just remember you are almost to the one-year mark...2011 is bound to be much better!

Kristin H. said...

I can only imagine how crazy it is having twin babies and a toddler. I think I have no balance just with two kids. From my experience, definitely take advantage of your parents being there and do date night. I didn't have a babysitter watch our kids until Tatum was 3 and Kendall was 5! That left dates to the few times a year when our parents were visiting. I regret that now that I ‘ve met some really trustworthy babysitters. The only thing that has allowed hubby and I time together, is that we stick to a 7:30 bedtime. Eventually, it will have to get a little later, but I know a lot of moms who put even older elementary school kids to bed about that time and then let them read and play quietly until they are ready to sleep. That gives us at least some time to snuggle on the couch and talk at the end of the day. My elliptical was a major splurge because I went with a club quality one that I knew I liked and could really use--but it saves my life during the winter. If I get a sweat up, my whole outlook improves. When I go through a phase where I let it get squeezed out of the schedule, my energy goes down and my mood, too. I know those suggestions are probably not at all helpful right now, but soon enough they will actually be sleeping through the night, and things will get easier! I wish I was there to help! I would love to give you a break and play with those cuties! One more thought, do churches around you, do Mother’s day out? Here it is just one morning a week for a couple of hours and pretty cheap. It might be worth it for your sanity.
Kristin H.

Sarah said...

One more suggestion... ;) Even though I know you're a wrap mom, you know I'm a stroller crazy mom, so perhaps if the snow isn't covering your entire street, a 15 - 20 minute walk could do some good pushing the kiddos in a stroller (when Bean is at preschool perhaps). It makes me feel pretty good if I can manage it, but I do get a bit tired when my preschooler asks me questions every two seconds while on a "me" time walk. Ha! Can you walk to get yourself a coffee or something nearby? I've been super lazy with the colder weather so it's a lot of lip service here! :)

Stef said...

I like what your top commenter said - Is that actually a picture of YOU??!! :)

This post made me realize how easy I have it. And I don't mean that in a "fine, your life is harder than mine" way at all. your life IS harder than mine. End of story.

I have one child {Kara} who has never been a good sleeper. ONE child. And we think that's hard. She still doesn't always sleep through the night and I can't figure out why. I think she likes to sleep with us, but then when she does that, I don't get any sleep :(

You know how they say "it always gets worse, just before it gets better" ?? I'm going to pray that is very true for you. That 2011 will hold some more peace, balance and alone time for MOMMY in it :)

Michele said...

Last fall, I decided to take the me time and leave the twins, then over a year old, home with Daddy a few times a week so I could go to the gym. Then, once we moved, the kids now go to their grandparents on Wednesdays for a few hours so that I can clean house (and pee alone!) without interruption. I miss them like crazy, but it is good time for them and for me too.