Monday, April 14, 2008

Hey, Jealousy

So I was reading this post of Beth's the other day and I got so, so jealous. It has taken me a few days to process it. When I read the beginning of it, like this part:

Sometimes, I think this really sucks. That all I do is change diapers and wipe up puke and do laundry and then more laundry since the hampers are full again as soon as I empty them. And sometimes I want to say, no, you keep two children fed, clean, happy and entertained while stemming the endless tide of toys taking over ever inch of the floor and cooking dinner that at least half of the intended audience will refuse to eat while I go get my nails done or out for drinks or whatever it is I've decided to do with no thought to the impact on your life. Sometimes I get so fed up with being the default parent, so tired of being unable to even go to the bathroom, much less leave the house without making some level of arrangements for their care or well-being. Sometimes when the one kid spends the entire morning puking on my shirt and pants and the floor and the other kid spends the entire morning whining and telling me I may no longer use the pet name I have called her since birth, I can't help but see this as far more punishment than reward. Sometimes I want to quit, to let all the annoying and boring little bits of this life be someone else's problem, to not be the one who is somehow supposed to have all the answers when I don't even understand the questions.

I was like, hell, yeah, sister, sing it!. I feel this way a lot - I try not to be, but I am deeply resentful that Todd just goes out to work every day. He says he doesn't, but I picture him skipping down the sidewalk, happy to finally be gone from our insane asylum. *I* want to quit too, I was thinking, when I read this. I felt so not alone in the moment that I read that post.

Well. The first part of the post. Because the second part went like this:

And then sometimes, when I am rocking a warm, sleeping baby who I know will, with a minimum of prodding, soon be taking a totally reliable two-hour nap while listening to my daughter singing in her room; or when she says she wants to tell me a secret and whispers in my ear that she loves me very much or that I am pretty; or when I can't get the baby to nurse because all he wants to do is smile at me with rivulets of milk pouring out of his mouth and spilling over his chin; well sometimes I feel like this, right here, this is the best part. Sometimes I think these long, slow, hard days with these children are the happiest of my life.

So then I thought, oh. Uh-oh, I thought. My warm baby needs more than prodding, sometimes she needs to scream, loudly, in my ear for a while before she takes a nap and I don't think it's been two hours since she was like a week old. She nurses so, so badly during the day, she is fussy the whole time and I can barely get her to nurse for 10 minutes. On both sides! I can't get help though, since she is gaining weight just fine and is in fact large and healthy.

Not only does my son not tell me that I'm pretty, he never sings in his room, never speaks to me at all, and I am afraid sometimes that he never will. "I love you", I say to him. "Can you say, 'I love you, Mommy?'" I start to cry, a little. "Can you say, 'I love you?'", I say, signing it too. He never answers.

So I think, well, okay, clearly these are not the happiest parts of my life. Maybe the happiest parts are coming? And maybe my happiness doesn't matter so much. Maybe this is, like a friend of mine told me, really God's work, because it's completely selfless and sacrificial love. Maybe. But in the meantime, I am pea green with envy over here.

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