Truthfully? Things have been tough lately. Today marks the start of Gavin’s seventh week on earth and Dan’s third week back at work. The transition to full-time solo-parenting between the hours of nine and five would be a tough transition for anyone, but we’ve been faced with a slightly more challenging scenario.
As I type this, we are currently in the midst of Gavin’s six week growth spurt (for any non-parents, a growth spurt is more than just a period of growing. It is a few days of extra fussiness, neediness, sleeplessness, and nursing), a cold that seems to have attacked both Cameron and I pretty fiercely, and a gout flare-up in my husband’s foot.
Yes, I said gout. Until Dan was diagnosed with the disease, I had no idea that this was even an issue any more. When you think gout, you think King Henry the Eighth. But, apparently it is on the rise these days. And for those who have never experienced gout (such as myself), it is ridiculously painful. “Gout is widely considered one of the most painful physical afflictions known to man. Even women have been known to say it’s worse than childbirth*.” (source)
His most recent gout attack started the weekend before his return to work. This means I have been spending the past two weeks not only adjusting to parenting two children alone, but also dealing with an additional dependant during non-work hours. I don’t begrudge Dan at all, but he has been pretty useless** as a help-mate recently.
As we have been surviving these past few weeks, which I suppose is a success considering the circumstances, I can’t help thinking how much easier things would be if even one thing were different. I would probably feel much less exhausted if I had a husband who was able to come home after work and contribute to the parenting and household tasks. Or, I would probably be much more attentive to my husband’s health if I didn’t have a newborn to take care of.
I remember back to the weeks after my first-born was born. I was right in the middle of the baby blues, feeling like a stranger in my own house, like my own body wasn’t mine, like I was completely overwhelmed with the mothering tasks ahead of me. It was during this time when many people said to me,
“I bet you just can’t imagine your life without this precious little boy in it, can you?”
This was always said with all the love and beauty and happy intentions in the world, but I never had a good answer for it. Imagine it?! My baby had only been home for a few weeks. Of course I could imagine life without him. In fact, I could remember it! Life without my newborn? It meant full nights of sleep. It meant being social. It meant having a moment to myself. It meant showers and hair straighteners and makeup. It meant freedom and quiet and dates with my husband.
And quite frankly, it didn’t sound all that bad.
This comment didn’t take into account the reality of my situation. It didn’t affirm how hard motherhood, especially new-motherhood is. It didn’t justify my feelings.
Of course I loved my son. Of course I would never wish him away. Of course I thanked God every day for bringing him into our lives.
But it didn’t mean the memories of my previous life were gone. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t sacrificing. It didn’t mean that everything was easy.
I feel like I am at that place again. Having two little boys brings light to my life. Snuggling a newborn is absolutely divine. But things still aren’t easy. I am still sacrificing (and always will be). Sometimes I just need to share how hard it can be. I need to legitimize the way I am feeling.
Dan recently asked me what we would do without our two little boys. As he asked me this, I was holding Gavin on the recliner, and he was snuggled up with Cameron on the couch. We were the perfect image of a family. “We’d be cuddling each other instead,” I answered, not really remembering the last time my husband and I snuggled.
Of course I can imagine my life without my children. But I would never, not ever, wish for it.
Photo taken June 7th, 2012
Cameron: 2+ years (27 months)
Gavin: 5 weeks, 4 days
*I’m sceptical. And I better never hear my husband compare it to childbirth. Although he did wish for some intravenous drugs… or an epidural.
**I say this with full poetic license.The reality is that Dan tries to help out as much as he possibly can and I definitely appreciate all his efforts.