written by STEPHANIE
"We’re losing," my husband confessed to me as we sipped our glasses of Pinot in the dark, reclining on the lawn, staring out at the stillness of a Portland summer night. It’s been a tough week getting settled into our new home and our new lives. While we expected it to be hard, we didn’t expect it to be this hard.
I had considered that I might feel lonely without our friends and family close at hand. It occurred to me that I might be overwhelmed entertaining a toddler full-time after the luxury of sending to her to school 3 days a week in LA. I thought unpacking would be tiring. But I didn’t think about the mayhem wreaked on our lives by a lack of family schedule and routine. And I didn’t consider how difficult it would be to reestablish a routine.
First of all, Marlowe (2 1/2 year old) isn’t sleeping well. She’s up super late, waking throughout the night, awake early in the morning, and sleeping in our bed when we finally give up in exhaustion. The new house coupled with a big girl bed is proving too much for her to handle. Plus, she and the baby are sharing a room. So while we used to let him fuss or cry himself back to sleep during the night, we now rush in throughout the night to give him a pacifier for fear he will wake Marlowe. God forbid! Alas, we aren’t sleeping much.
Second, Marlowe isn’t napping well. The first few days in the new house she napped late in the day in our bed, after I snuggled with her (and fell asleep myself). This wasn’t so terrible. At least we both got naps. But now she won’t sleep at all. And you know what’s worse than no nap? Attempting to get a kid to nap for four hours only to give up because it’s dinner time!
On one of our first days in Portland, both kids napped in the cart at Ikea.
Third, neither my husband nor I have any sense of balance in our lives. I’ve found that my life is far more harmonious when I have something aside from mothering and household maintenance to do. Usually this is yoga or running, but it has been nearly impossible to prioritize this kind of activity when there are still boxes everywhere, my kids aren’t napping, and I’m still nursing (and thus tied to the baby).
So when my husband said that we were losing, he was right. Our toddler is running our lives right now, and she is running amuck. We don’t have the energy or conviction we typically have to reel her back in. I’m overwhelmed by my seeming lack of control over things that I once had so much success with. And I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to start.
There have been small moments here and there when I’ve felt like I’m a good mother. The other day I took both kids to the Portland Children’s Museum. Marlowe and I ate lunch, then I nursed the baby, we came home and BOTH kids napped at the same time, in the same room, for two hours. It was heaven and I thought, “I’ve got this! I’m nailing this motherhood thing!” But then there are all the other days when I feel like I’m failing. Marlowe told me today, “Mommy, I like you today. You’re nice. Yesterday [“yesterday” means anytime in the past in Marlowe’s language], you were mean. But today you’re nice.” My heart sunk.
I want to be a light in my children’s lives. Right now, the light is flickering. But tomorrow is a new day. And like Marlowe’s new favorite song says, “You’ve got to get up and try, try, try…” (Yep, I just quoted Pink.)