October 2, 2008

I'm trading my shame

Friends of this blog - I have tried rather unsuccessfully to find happy and funny things to share with you these past several weeks. To share all the good times and the cute little anecdotes of being a new mom.

We've only been home from Africa for four months. It feels like a lot longer. Like ages have passed since we were in another country, another culture, immersed in the diversity and taking on the biggest change of our lives.

I'm trading my sorrow

I have to tell you, that I am eating a rather large helping of humble pie lately. I have a big spoon and I'm heaping it in by the gallons. Daily. I used to think "look at that mom over there...control your child for goodness sake" or "If that were me, I'd have that kid towing the line in a flash", or even worse and much more often "why is she whining? She got what she wanted! She's got her baby - now stop complaining". I admit it. I was that person.

I'm trading my shame

I am ashamed to admit to you that parenting has been my biggest struggle. My biggest fear come to life. That I would be no good at it, or that somehow it would not be all I had imagined. It's not what I imagined. It's not what I thought. It's so hard I could weep. Actually, I do. Everyday is a new day, yes - and everyday is a new challenge.

I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

Once I read a comic that stuck with me. A Dilb#ert comic strip where Ratbert, the new office "temp", sets up a desk for himself inside a cardboard box in the hallway because he wants to be permanent in the office so badly. He tells Dilbert that since he knows he'll be there for a long time (cough), he needs something that can be his own. Have you ever been a temp? Then you know how apropos the word "temp" is. Dilbert sagely faces the reader and the caption reads "Warning! Sharp learning curve ahead!". Poor Ratbert.

I'm trading my sickness

That's how I feel. Like I wish someone had hog tied me and wrangled me to the floor back in May and said "WARNING, Christie! SHARP (very, very sharp) learning curve ahead!" But no one did. It was all smiles, well wishes, isn't it great, isn't it wonderful, what a wonderful time, it's the best time of your life, and all that jazz. I wouldn't change the outcome - I would have just mentally tried to prepare myself a little bit better for the reality and the utter levity of the situation.

So, quit reading now if you're already getting irked at me and want to shout "get over yourself - you've got the baby, now shut up already!" It's about to get tangled. And beware lest you find yourself eating humble pie like me. It's nasty, nasty stuff and there is no watering it down or chasing it with some guilt-free sugar coated variety of "sorry, I was wrong".

I'm trading my pain

Quint is a wonderful boy. He's sweet and funny, charming and smart as a tack. He's engaging and snuggly and he has his own mind. He's opinionated, he's cute - he's a delightful baby. Who wouldn't be happy all the time?

It comes as a shock to me at least, that I would struggle so much to live each day to its fullest. To enjoy the moments. When people say to me "enjoy this age - it's the BEST!" I literally want to scream back "then YOU enjoy it! Because I would love to go to the bathroom or read two lines of a book, or finish putting clothes on, or bathe for crying out loud, or makeup - what the heck is that? - or how about finish one freaking meal while it's still even quasi warm, or get one thought out of my head and into the world before I have my pants pulled down and off by a well meaning but screaming child as he is latched on to my leg for 10 of his 12 waking hours, or see a movie (what the frig is even playing?) or comb my hair (don't even ask!) or wear something other than a nightgown all day, or balance our checkbook (God help us) or read my Bible (Lord forgive me!) or have a conversation with my husband that does not begin or end with "so then the baby..." or sleep one night without worrying about crib death at 11 months (does that ever end?) or enjoy one of 30 breakable things in my home that are now crammed unceremoniously into small and unreachable by little hands, places.

I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I need to be honest - this is not called a "full-time job" for nothing. I'm not even kidding you. I worked corporate for years before this stay at home gig - and I can say hands down, that was the easiest job (whatever it was...insert company here) that I ever had compared to this. We could have a quiet day over here at La Casa B and it would still rank as the hardest thing I've ever done. This is not for wimps. It's not for the weak. You can't get away with half hearted parenting for more than about...oh say, 15 minutes. Do you wanna know why? Because they will eat you alive. You have to be engaged constantly. Otherwise, you end up with a child pulling the television over (are they seriously that strong? Give me a freaking break!) or climbing out the dog door (true story). You have to be on your game all the time. Can you imagine? Even nap time is a race to get done as much as humanely possible before you hear the alarm - and by alarm of course, I mean "whhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

I'm pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned

So speaking honestly with the deep hope for no condemnation, I am sad. I am not as good at this as I hoped to be. Maybe I am my own biggest critic - but this is breathtakingly hard. I love Q beyond measure - but that doesn't change the difficulty of the day to day struggles of learning to be someones mother. He's very strong willed, but it's beyond that. It's not even about him. It's about me. People say it will come naturally - and many of the elements do indeed. But friends, new moms to be, know this - it does not ALL come naturally. Some of it is hard earned, sweat induced, tear filled, patience tested, iron will "learn as you go" parenting. It simply is.

Struck down but not destroyed

I have to compare this to getting married. I love AB more than words. There aren't enough ways to express my love and genuine admiration for him. Having said that, I remember being young and very in love and thinking that the world was our oyster. That we would NEVER become one of those tired old married couples and that we would never take each other for granted. (heh...snicker...) Anton reminded me of an embarrassing gift we gave our relatives for Christmas one year - "Love" cards - oh gawd, we're still cringing. 100 ways to tell the person you love that you "love" them. Or something like that. After we got married, I distinctly remember sitting in the honeymoon cabin of the cruise ship we were on and thinking "so this is it, huh? All that planning...all that waiting...all that work...for three hours of wedding and it's over. And now it's life as usual - everything returns to the mundane and now it's more complicated because I'm responsible emotionally to another person." Yikes! Where did those thought creep in? I can tell you where. Because NOBODY tells the bride "listen, marriage is infinitely hard and full of craziness and moments where you think you'll keel over - but you should still do it". No one says that! No one ever will. I was surrounded by little well wishers who said "ooh" and "aaah" and "isn't this wonderful" and "it's so romantic" and "ooh the gown is gorgeous and the invitations are lovely...ooh ahhh ooggle". Heaven help us all if people start spitting the truth.

I'm blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure

Likewise, becoming a parent in whatever form, is surrounded by oohs and aaahs and well wishers and those who regale tales of delightful parenting moments and relish passing along their tricks of the trade while you stand numb and dazed holding your bundle of joy. Let's face it, if they showed up, grabbed you by the arm and said "just you hang on sister because this life ride is about to get cracked out...and you think you're busy now? HA! Don't make me laugh. You don't know tired, busy, hungry, deprived, annoyed, tested, or mentally worn down to your noggin nub until now! And honey, pass the chaos, hold the sanity! You're about to get dealt the biggest blow to your ego in YEARS. You are no longer...well, anything. Except diaper doter, bottle feeder, nose wiper, vomit catcher, toy cleaner, slobber saver, tear dryer, crib sheet changer, and "I can name that cartoon tune in 3 notes" all around hand holder. So suck it up! Because you can wipe that happy little crappy smile off your face and start dancing to the music of "this is your life" everyday, all over again. Now you have a nice one.

And His joy's gonna be my strength

No one is gonna say that people. Because if they did, we'd RUN, not walk in the direction of "free spirit forever" bumper stickers, movie hopping on Saturday nights, and midnight sushi bars. We'd never sign the contract. We'd need to see proof that this gig was more than...well...the above. So no one is out there saying "this crap is HARD".

It's frowned on. Even shushed. I might be losing offended readers even now. But isn't that sad? Let me tell you - in my distraught frame of mind, I have opened up to several close friends and you know what? I'm comforted to find that once you begin sliding your hand up in the air and saying "hi, my name is Christie...and this new mom gig is freaking hard", you find that you are not alone. That MANY women are struggling with motherhood. That so many are facing the same uphill battle every day that you face. That even right down to the scenarios - we are a sisterhood even in our weakest moments. We have the same stories, the same struggles, the same fears, the same weaknesses. What a comfort to me in my hour of need. (I love you and you know who you are friends...)

Though the sorrow may last for the night

So, I have been broken like a wild horse these past months - and I haven't known what to say to all of you. Haven't known how to tell you that I'm having a hard time. I've tried a couple times and then I feel so guilty for not being able to whistle a happy tune for you. All the love in the world for my little man cannot change the fact that sometimes I just need to breathe. Sometimes, I just need to use the restroom. I'm not joking. Do you know I'm actually crying when I type that? That's not frailty - that's reality. That's me being vulnerable to you. Sometimes I just need to have five minutes to think about myself. And learning how to do that, and when to do that, and what hat to wear at what time of day has been my sharp learning curve.

Considering so many women have told me of the exact same struggles, I can't imagine that most of us have not faced or thought these same things. All things considered, if you are facing new motherhood - I in no way wish to discourage you - but I hope you will take from this the benefit of having been "hog-tied" to this post and forced to hear "sharp learning curve ahead". It's not about loving the child - that's not even in the equation. It's about you. You think after all these years, you can deal with it - whatever it is. You'll cross that bridge when you get there. Friends, take a note from my utter open wound here...now is the time to begin to understand that your entire life will get flipped upside down. Think of everything you do now - and flip it over. You can't come away from that untouched. It's just natural that you would "feel" something.

His joy comes in the morning

Motherhood Saints out there - whoever you are - that have never felt this way, that have never really struggled as I have, or felt completely lost in parenting, or struggled to get up and do it again each day - bless you. You are so fortunate.

Struggling mothers - and I mean this from my deepest place - bless your heart. Love that baby, but take care of yourself as best you can. Find ways to keep your sanity and do your best not to pummel the lady who stops to tell you to "enjoy this age...it's the best!!" with that Pollyanna smile and high pitched voice. She means well. But let's face it - it's not the best age (insert age here)...they've forgotten. God has blessed mothers with the ability to slowly forget the bad and latch on to the precious. That's ok - it's for you too and it'll happen with time. But while you're in it...Lord, it seems overwhelming.

I'm trading my shame. I'm laying it down. I'm gonna take the Joy of my Lord. I can't think of anything else to do. I've arrived at that little place we all hate to go to..."Witts End".

If you're still here...and still reading this, then thank you for that - truly. I'm not sure what else I've got to say for a bit. I'm sure I'll find something, but it just might be tidbits here and there until I can find a way to trade my sorrow over. I guess I'm nothing if not relentlessly honest over here at Bushel and a Peck.


I'm trading my sorrow

I'm trading my shame

I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

(* it's a song...and a great one at that...)

18 comments :

PrincessandPirates.com said...

Christie, I am so glad you posted this, because I know that reading and writing is an outlet for you. I hope this post has helped you with your feelings.... I love you girl, and I am so glad I had lunch with you today. I am here for you, and understand your sadness (remember the dark house senerio). Please call me anytime and say Des get your ass over here and HELP ME!!!! I am going to stay in touch with you and push you as promised, ok. I love you and hope to talk to you some more about this. The one thing you do need is YOU TIME, that is one thing all moms need after becoming a mother and I don't think you have had enough. Some moms need less, or more then others, so with that said, I am here to help, ok. I will do anything, take you out, come over, babysitt, and much more... Call me your "FREE personal assistant", ok. I LOVE YOU GIRL....

Mya said...

Christie,
Thanks for sharing! Please know your not alone! Becoming a mother was very overwhelming for me and took a good 6 months to adjust to my new life. I still have days I just want to pull my hair out. Just last month I told the hubs I wanted to run away! How horrible is that! Do I feel guilty for these feeling, yes. But I needed a break and the hubs made arrangements for me to take a day to myself!

Dawn and Dale said...

I really love how you write and I'm sure posts like this one really do help you to get it all out and to understand your feelings so much clearer. Many are unable to figure most of what you have figured out!!

You are gifted above words on your writing and many are blessed by it! So many blogs I "skim" over when reading but I always read every single word of your posts! Thank you for your thoughts!

I just wanted to say that not all people are "baby" people!! My sister in law wanted kids soooooo badly and had 3 of them really close together. She really didn't enjoy the baby years AT ALL and was starting to wonder why she ever wanted kids in the first place! Now her kids are 13, 11 and 9 and she is LOVING the parenting now!! I also know some who really enjoy and do well with the baby stage and then not enjoy the other stages!

Prayers for you!! Hope things get a bit brighter for you soon! :)

Briana's Mom said...

I completely understand how you are feeling. It took me about 6 months to start getting used to the "new normal" my life had become.

I brought Bri home at age 1. Quint is almost there. I think age one is the absolute toughest age there is. One year olds can't walk that well, can't talk that well, can't focus on much, can't eat by themselves, need your attention 24/7. There is no break - especially when you are home with them all day.

Our babies are special. They are survivors. Their lives were turned upside down. This may be why they are so strong willed and also ultra clingy at times.

I can hopefully promise you that it gets easier. Bri is two now. She can feed herself. She walks and talks and plays by herself. She has friends she plays with. She can watch a TV show and really enjoy it. She colors and plays stickers. She helps me (sort of) sort the laundry. While she does those things, I can get some things done. I am still "on" all the time and pretty tired, but I do get a little break once in a while.

Don't be hard on yourself. Parenthood is HARD. Try to hang in there!

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Christie.. you can write like no other.. you are amazing at putting your thoughts into words...
This does pass.. As a mother of 3.. believe me it is overwhelming to me sometimes.. but you are an amazing mother and things are never perfect..
Thanks for sharing your thougths.. becuase they are just like everyone of us mommy's out there..
Hugs.
Have a Great Weekend..
LOVE the picture..
Give Quint kisses for me..

Kayce said...

You are amazing Christie. You are not alone in your fears, shame or your sorrow. There are days and even moments when I struggle to wonder if I'm doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Being a parent is a challenge to say the least, but if you look at the moments that are hard and learn from them you will be successful the next go round. You are an amazing mom and you have a large group of other mama's out here that have the same struggles and sadness.

Thank you for your vulnerability, and putting it all out here. As always your honesty is something that is admirable and needed for all of us moms. You are a blessing. God Choose You!

Cora said...

Thank you for your honesty. Reality is not always what you dream it will be, that is for sure.

Nathan said...

Bri you have been really honest with your feelings. It was very moving to read your blog. I am a young dad and for reasons my wife and i parted ways 1 and half years ago. Divorce in my country is a long time consuming process for Christians. I have a daughter she will be two soon and i tell you honestly. I could any day trade your sorrows and consider them my joys. Oh how i long and wish secretly even while sitting at office i could hear her cry waahhhhh there would be no music as sweet as that. We two are on either side of a situation. Right?

Jesi and Joe said...

Wow. Incredible post. Thank you so much for writing what so many of us (if not all) feel. I can't tell you how trying the two weeks has been for me. Ez will NOT eat. I suspect it's teething, but it's eating away at me. Frustration - at myself, at him, at all of it. Just EAT! I spend half my day or more in front of a high chair... how did I sign up for THAT?! I've been a teary, emotional mess. You know what, I think it's going to pass to some degree. I think this is still part of the adjustment to parenthood. We're 5.5 months into it. Maybe soon I'll be used to having my life revolve around wailing, clinging, pinching the skin off my chest trying to climb onto me, not eating FUN.

Hang in there. I'm RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. :-) Feel free to email me anytime. I've been meaning to email you back for AGES. I just get so caught up in life and being so darn busy that I forget. I didn't find any pictures of Quint in the cribs, but I still need to check the video I have... stay tuned!

Big hugs!

Ani said...

Thank you for your candor!

Our son came home at 5 weeks, and by the end of the first week I was so tired, sleep deprived and scared all I could do was cry... and then I felt so horrible bc I finally had the ONE blessing I had prayed so hard for, and I was totally overwhelmed... and then, one amazing, honest friend said "its ok, this is the hardest, most difficult, most overwhelming job you'll ever have... this is the first of many cries..."

so, i cried - and i've cried since, but it got better, we got into our "normal" routine, he grew up, became more independent, and now I find myself reminiscing and wanting those baby moments back.

hang in there. God bless.

julie said...

Do you remember in "The Wizard of Oz" that Dorothy had the power (and the shoes) to go home at any time? Why didn't anyone tell her? Because they couldn't. Some things are not justified with mere words. You have to experience it and learn the value of the lessons on your own, just as Dorothy did

As always, your post is amazing...again bringing out lots of memories of my own.

You are not alone.

God bless you and A and Q.

Love you!

Norma said...

I personally have never felt any of what you are feeling. !2 years out from our first adoption I have read many times about "post adoption depression" and
I'll bet you would have no trouble finding many who have had the same experience. What does Anton think? I am glad you have a good support system.
God Bless.

Anonymous said...

After the birth of our second child, I was so overwhelmed that I tried desperately to think of someone who would ADOPT them. Now I have 4 and the oldest is 18. I can tell you that believe it or not, it never gets easier, just different. But I would never trade a day. I love them deeply and can't wait for my LID to come so I can adopt another and start all over. Hang in there, sister. You WILL get that thought finished and you hair combed.

Our Journey to Jadyn Nicole said...

Hello Christie, You are an amazing mom…Always remember that! We all have struggles. Parenting isn’t easy. My son is 10 now and over the last few years things have started to get easier . . . well as soon as I say that something will pop up. Truly we still have our moments. Life isn’t perfect and I’ve learned to live with that. I’ve also learned to enjoy the moments. Try to take a break from time to time. . . a massage works miracles.

We are right around the corner if you ever need a friend to watch the Q-man.

You are in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

Christie,
I am a total stranger to you. I found your blog while reading some of the comments posted on Susannah's blog. It was so nice to see many in the "adoption community" come together to "help" that family with prayers and encouraging comments. So, I found you and I have enjoyed reading through your blog...you are a gifted writer and your messages are touching...so I visit you "often." After reading this latest post, I decided to share a bit of my experience because you are not alone. May be not all the details are the same but I see similarities and it was not easy...but I never had the guts to tell anyone like you are doing. It takes someone brave like you to do this! When we adopted our girl from China she was almost 2 (23 months to be exact). I had prepared myself mentally for a younger girl/ a baby. I was happy for the referral and my husband was thrilled that she was a "bit older" ..since he already had 4 children from a previous marriage. She is my 1st, and only one so far, and I had always longed for a child, a daughter. She was wanted in every way but I WAS not ready to deal with someone with a strong will & personality. And I struggle for months...more than a year I would say, to feel that I loved her unconditionally, the way she was. I struggle with all sorts of issues and I felt like the worst human being I could be...how did God allow me to become a mother if I did not deserve it? After 2 1/2 years, and only because of God's mercy, I found peace and things have improved so much with caring for my daughter, but it has been hard, very difficult. I truly believe that the reason I suffered so much was because my expectations of motherhood and how a child should be or behave were way off of my experience. So I decided to make changes, adjust my “thinking” and take little steps. I hear you...I understand you..and I WILL pray for you! God will help you, guide you and give you wisdom & strength. Thank you for sharing your feelings so openly and honestly. I admire you for this! God bless you, Diana (sorry for the long message…just felt I needed to share with you).

blissfullycaffeinated said...

Babe - No one can tell you beforehand what it's like. Even if someone had told you, would you have listened? If I had said, Christie, it's so hard and I'm exhausted and some days I go into the bathroom and lock the door and cry when Danny comes home from work, would it have made a difference? No.

It didn't make me change my mind when people told me their horror stories before I had Caroline, it doesn't make anyone change their mind about having kids, ever, because everyone thinks it will be different for them. But it never is. And beyond that, the hard stuff is worth it.

Babies are abso-freaking-lutely the most difficult job one can have. But listen up - it will get better. I'm here to tell you that it gets much, much easier. Quint will get bigger, he will start keeping himself entertained for longer periods of time, he will be able to communicate his needs better, the damn teeth will all come in, and it will be more manageable. Then when Keira comes it will get harder again, and then easier again.

Dude, it's only been 4 months, that's not enough time to adjust. You are an amazing person, one of my very favorite people, and you love that baby. You're doing great. I can tell from waaayyy over here. You are a mother through and through. I just want you to know that the shit part of it gets better. It does because I'm living proof. Not that I get out of my pajamas most days, because I do not. Why bother?

You just have to get through it. And you will.

BTW, Gorgeous post, so beautifully written. You have talent, my friend.

Sending you hugs and love and if I was in Texas I would come get Quint, throw him in a room with my girls, and let him get his Barbie on.


XO XO XO

-Jen

waitingarms said...

I just stumbled onto your blog and I want to thank you for your honesty! I too would have loved a reality check on parenthood. I can't tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep because I felt like a lousy mother if I was not constantly overwhelmed with the joys of motherhood. The best birthday present I ever got was a night away my husband arranged for me when my child was three months old. From day one, he woke up every two hours day and night and I was totally sleep deprived! The hotel was fifteen minutes from my house, but I struggled to accept the gift of an 8-hour night of sleep and still had my husband bring my son over for a visit because I was wracked with guilt!

I too have had to eat my fair share of humble pie and still do! My husband and I are pretty mellow and it was hard to imagine we had created an extremely active, strong willed child. And you know, that is who boys are supposed to be. We have a great pediatrician and he always reassured me that he would actually be concerned if my son was obedient and compliant before age three. In all honesty, age four has been the most pleasant and joyful stage in this motherhood journey! So hang in there--three more years and then everything will seem to be a distant memory! When your son's little character comes out and you are having a nice fun conversation with four year old Quint, you will be more forgiving of yourself as a mother and even begin to think you did a mighty fine job.

polarbearinchina said...

Christie ~ Thank You!!!!

I'm sitting here at school reading your posts and it has brought me to tears. I appreciate your honesty so very much. I worry about how life will change once we finally make it to China. Everyone always seems to have an easy transition, but I have always wondered if it really is so easy.

Every once and a while someone will post about the difficulties and I am thankful, but NO ONE has ever been so honest and upfront. Thank you.

When you talked about your feelings during your honeymoon it reminded me of me. One night during our honeymoon R was sound asleep, again, and I will never forget thinking, I am never going to have another good night sleep in my life (he snores). I layed there and cried. No one ever told me about the little things.

Just as you said, no one has really told me about the little things to come after our adoption, until now. Thank you.

Stacy

Ps. LOVE the powedered sugar pictures!!!

Pss. I sleep very well (for now) ;o)