“Oh, I had so much trouble even getting out of the house when my babies were little. You seem like you have it all together,” said the physical therapist as she massaged the tendons in my arm to alleviate the inflammation (thanks, tennis elbow as a result of playing … baby tennis?)
I would have laughed really hard if she hadn’t been pressing on the ouchiest bits right then.
“Smoke and mirrors. Also, you haven’t seen my house or my inbox, so hold your praise,” I replied, wincing as her fingertips worked their way between my tendons.
Nothing is “all together” these days. Everything feels held together by minty floss, so it smells sort of nice but is flimsy and ready to split. On the surface, there are appear to be people moving around in my house that are reasonably clean and fed, but scratch that surface and you’ll find so much mess.
I’m struggling to find some peace in this mess. Laundry is a constant battle (one six year old who loves messy craft projects plus a little baby with reflux and spitty-uppiness plus a guy who works out a lot plus a woman who tries to work out and who also is a target of aforementioned spit-up) and there’s at least two laundry baskets with contents that require folding and putting away at any given moment. Also, if you open the dryer, there’s probably a load of laundry in there, too, waiting to be discovered and cursed at.
And then there’s the medical stuff. Coordinating care for Birdy and Chris is one thing, but now we have the little Guy and he sees the pediatrician once a month (he’s little, so we check on his weight regularly and also there’s that reflux thing that’s being monitored/treated), so there’s that added mess. Also, I’m back in physical therapy for de Quervain’s tendonitis (this happened with Birdy, as well – more on that later this week) and also seeing a dermatologist regularly in efforts to beat back the Dexcom rash (more on that ASAP). I’ve met with a local endo and a new primary care doctor, as well, debating which to keep and where to keep trying. Lots of EOBs and calls to my medical insurer and let’s not forget the ebb and flow of diabetes supplies like insulin, test strips, Dexcom sensors, pump supplies, blood pressure medication, and all the other shit. The phone feels permanently stuck to my ear and I’m on hold a lot.
Not to mention my lovely email inbox, which is brimming with interesting stuff that I can’t wait to dive into but sometimes comes to a boil in there because it can take me a full hour to answer one email. (I’ve been doing a little bit of writing, though, and that’s felt good. Sometimes it’s through the Notes feature on my phone, or in a long text message to myself, but it is happening. Funny how creative juices flow alongside breastmilk at 4 am.)
Sleep is still at a minimum lately, with my son reverting back to his waking up every three hours for the last few nights, making us both a drooling mess at times during the day. The lack of sleep is causing brain stalls, and I’ll stand in the middle of the kitchen wondering where the hell my keys are only to find them the hell in my hand.
I’m feeling very mired in motherhood details these days, and while I’m entirely grateful for the chance to parent these two littles, sometimes I’m a little burnt out on the daily tasks. The list of items I want to tackle every day grows and I find myself only ticking off one or two items at a time instead of charging through the list with a face full of iced coffee and a pitchfork of productivity. I’m itching to travel again, to get out and be working in full, proving to myself that I’m able to love and raise my children while also loving and raising my career.
“How is it going?” is a question many people ask, and sometimes my response is to show them my silly daughter and my smiling son and beam with pride. Or my response is an exasperated sigh and a mention of house crap that’s gone undone.
Unfortunately sometimes it feels like the right thing to reply with is the “smoke and mirrors” claim, like I’m not able to say, “Some stuff is a disaster but I am doing really well with lots of other stuff.” I have to force myself to step back from what I perceive as “the mess” and realize that I am doing a lot, and loving a lot of it, and allowing things like un-emptied driers and missed phone calls to be forgiven.
Is it all together here? Oh hell no. Have I taken some very long and unintentional breaks from blogging and answering emails and putting on matching socks? Oh hell yes. But my focus is different these days. It’s been more about talking with my daughter about her day at school and working on a craft project with her. Or holding my son close after he’s done eating and tracing the side of his chubby cheek with my fingertip. Or taking a morning to go work and leaving all housework and kids in the care of trusted family and friends.
It’s not all together, but it’s not all smoke and mirrors, either. It’s all hard work. And love. And the constant ding of the dryer.