Dear Andrew & Abby,
It's confession time. Mommy is struggling. We've been having a rough time lately, and I am running out of ideas. The Mother of the Year Award is a long abandoned dream now (see trying to kill you with applesauce) and now I am concentrating on just trying to stay out of Mommy Hell and/or avoid having someone take you away from me and Daddy and give you to someone who actually knows what to do with little child people.
Before we had kids, we talked some about what it would be like. I thought about it a lot. I was ready. Ha ha ha ha ha. If you EVER hear anyone tell you they were ready when they had kids, they are LYING! No one is ever ready. No matter how many books you read or people you talk to, you just can't know what it's like until it's your turn. I didn't know it then, but there is a secret parent society. The first rule of Parent Club is - you don't talk about Parent Club. Oh, sure, you let other people THINK you are talking about it, but you're not. You're saving all the really gory details for the members-only discussions. And even then, there are some things you just don't share with anyone. For example - and I'm about to let out a big Parent Club secret here, so I'm taking a big risk to tell you this - your dad and I have only discussed a particular incident with Baby Andrew a couple of times since it happened. The incident when Baby Andrew was so constipated that he had a poop of clay that got stuck. Yes, stuck. Half-way. Apparently, based on the wailing and the very red and angry face that Baby Andrew made, there was a good deal of pain and discomfort associated with a poop of clay sticking half in and half out of your pooper. Mommy freaked out and called the nurse, but before I could bring myself to explain the situation, Daddy was busy solving the problem (you are so lucky to have him as your dad). We - no, HE - had tried to pull the clay poop out and that didn't work. So he PUSHED IT BACK IN. And then Baby Andrew was able to get some momentum behind the effort and get things worked out within a few minutes. Now, I tell you this at risk, not only of my Parent Club membership, but that I have successfully given you all the reasons for birth control you'll ever need and I will never have grandchildren. It's a risk I'm willing to take because I need you to understand just how far I am feeling in over my head with you both right now.
Another thing Parent Clubbers don't tell outsiders about is what happens when you add more kids. In the case of raising children, 1 + 1 does not equal 2. Sometimes it feels closer to 20. At 3 and 8, you have figured out how to work together, and your tag team efforts to resist sleep and rules and routines and in general anything your dad and I want you to do have created an exponential, synergistic (in the evil kind of way) force that just might kill me.
Bed time has become Hell on Earth. Worse than dealing with clay poop every hour of every day. At least clay poop doesn't get out of bed 500 million times a night after it's supposed to be asleep. Or scream and cry. Or jump on the bed. Or sneak out of its room to pilfer drinks of water which lead to bed-wetting to the point where Mommy's newest addition to the bedtime ritual is to remove any kind of water-holding vessel from the bathroom. No, clay poop just sits there. Half in, half out, being its clay little self. There are times - usually about 9:30pm when we have been in the "going to bed" mode for two hours and you are both still getting up out of your beds to laugh and play in the hallway or Abby is screaming and Andrew is whining for more book time - I long for the return of the clay poop days. I've come to realize that - another Parents Club secret - babies are easy. Yes, there is the whole lack-of-sleep thing, and the eating all the time, and the fragile you-might-break-them issues. But for the most part, a baby's life is a simple one. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Repeat. Babies stay where you put them. They don't talk back. They don't get out of their beds. They don't play in the bathroom when they are supposed to be brushing their teeth and make a big mess with the water. They don't scream and kick when you're trying to put their pajamas on. Okay, I'll give you the last one. But baby kicks don't have the same impact that three-year-old kicks do. Or the same anger. Woo! Do they have anger management classes for toddlers? Because "use your words" doesn't seem to be working too well in our house.
Now, I know that there are all kinds of people out there who have a lot of advice they could offer your Mommy. And they'd all be happy to, if only I would ask. Or publish this post on a parenting support site. The trouble is that I already know what I'm supposed to do. I know you both need a routine. And we have one. Of course, we (and by that I mean Mommy and Daddy) haven't been very good at enforcing it or even reminding you of it on a very consistent basis. We're tired. Work wears us out. Truthfully, life wears us out. The rush to get home, get you from daycare, make dinner, eat dinner, make sure Andrew does his homework, run off to any functions we might have...it's a lot. And since we don’t get you two picked up and home until almost 6pm and bedtime is at 8pm, we only have a couple of hours to get it all done each night during the week. So by the time we need to put you to bed, we’re tired. Our last ounces of energy have been sucked from our bodies like a cowboy sucks barbecue sauce from a slab of ribs. And we had gotten to a certain comfort level with Andrew before Abby was born - and even for a while after - that we could let him have some independence from us during the bedtime routine and he could and would do some things on his own. But now that we are dealing with the Power of Two, we can't do that anymore, and neither of us has adjusted well to that new truth. In fact, I'm not sure your daddy has even acknowledged that it IS truth yet.
I'd like to think that it would be better if I was a SAHM (that's Stay-At-Home-Mom), but I don't think I can believe that, either. I'm afraid that if I was at home all day, I would still be this worn out and frustrated and unorganized and not as good of a mom as I want to be. I'd just have a little more time at home to think about it all.
So, my little ones, loves of my life, Mommy needs a little help. I'm on my way to San Diego for a work conference right now and I won't be back until late Wednesday night. But when I get back, I want to start a new day in the House That Chaos Built. It will only work if you help. It's become quite apparent that I can not cope under the current environment. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to convince Daddy that the point of no return is upon us. So for a while, until he faces reality, it might just be us. You help Mommy keep her sanity, and Mommy will try not to look and sound like a crazy scary banshee mom. It's a good trade-off, right?
Love you still, but even more once you give it up and GO TO SLEEP already,