Friday, May 31, 2013

Blood and suicide (but not really)

     How do I even explain today? It began with a trip to the hospital and ended with a suicide threat from a pre-teen.
     I took Happyboy to his primary care doctor to check him out for a myriad of symptoms.  He has a sniff that doesn't quit, and after 15 minutes you just want to rip your own ears off so you don't have to hear that repetitive sound.  He has pains in his legs and hips that come and go...he has a tightness in his chest...and he's been having bathroom issues.  A nice cocktail of random issues.
     I should have known we would have to go for bloodwork.  I should have guessed.  Instead I was totally shocked when she wrote me a note for the hospital lab, with no less than 7 different tests on it.  Of course once Happyboy heard the word tests he started freaking out about having his blood taken.  Having horrible veins myself, I couldn't really blame him, but I cursed the universe for making him think of it and causing him to freak out on the day I had to take him (Happyboy is notoriously fickle, so one day it's nbd and the next it's a life-altering tragedy.  I never know which response he's going to have, so I try to be prepared for either.) He cried the whole way to the hospital, and I tried to reassure him with calm words while simultaneously screaming in my head "why me?!!"  I had a painful blocked milk duct, I hadn't yet eaten, and pretty soon Rose was going to be hungry.
     I checked him in, after several sulking stops in the corridor, where I would not only get the death glare, but I would have to threaten grounding to get him moving again--making me the parental bully, of course, but it did get him going.  He sulked in the waiting room, he hid in the lab, but finally we got him in the seat.  He screamed through the whole thing, and while 80 percent of it was drama, I could see after a bit that the needle moved slightly (they had to take SIX vials), so I knew it really did hurt.  This meant that when the blood tech repeatedly told Happyboy "It doesn't even hurt, you're fine" I had to restrain myself from jabbing it in her jugular to see if she thought it hurt then.
     We made it through it, though, and after about ten minutes, Happyboy sheepishly apologized, then told me I was the best mom in the world. (Clearly Happyboy doesn't know I'm a suck-at-home mom, because this made me immediately wonder if they had taken so much blood that he was delirious.)
     As they took him in for his X-ray, Rose began to fuss, so of course I had to stop to breastfeed her.  Now, I am all for women being allowed to breastfeed wherever, but I do think it's the polite thing to be discreet.  Rose, however, is a very particular baby, and that coupled with a barely managed oversupply means that I have to feed her standing up, boob hanging out, with her body crosswise against me, and I have to pace back and forth.  I'm not really all for me breastfeeding in public for that reason...but a baby's gotta eat when she's gotta eat, so there we go.  I start pacing back in forth in the little X-ray changing room with her, trying not to scream as she latches on to the plugged duct nipple.  I persevere, pleased with myself that at least I've found a changing room--a little less open than the lobby! Too bad I didn't realize that the nice X-ray technician had brought Happyboy and me into the men's changing room.  You can imagine my surprise when I turned around to continue my pace and was faced with a large man, my breast hanging out of my clothing as Rose did one of her flailing "dance" moves and popped off my breast. 
     Now, as I mentioned...I have oversupply, so of course when she popped off some milk squirted.  I mean squirted.  I wanted to die, but instead I was busy trying to get the ladies settled back inside my bra at lightning speed.  I left the hospital red-faced and sweaty (and not just because it was 87 degrees out and I had no air conditioning in the car.)
     So, that was the beginning of the day.  Let's move on to the end.  I was exhausted.  I had made it through the doctor, the dishes, making dinner, handling Rose's several pukes and poops throughout the afternoon--and that painful blocked duct.  You know what the remedy for a blocked duct is? Rest and fluids.  What a joke...anyone with a blocked duct generally has it because they have a, really? Let's get real.  So I was ready to crash once Rose, Punkgirl, and Happyboy were finally in bed.
     That's when Punkgirl started hysterically crying.  Her friend, let's call her Jaye, had texted her that she was going to kill herself.  Now, Jaye is a self-proclaimed bisexual, so given the statistics on lgbt suicide I couldn't hesitate.  I don't have her mother's number, I don't have her address, but I do have Jaye's email, which sends a text to her phone.  I sent very quickly that I wanted her to give me her mother's number or call me right now...she texted that she was only kidding, that she shouldn't have joked like that etc.  I pressed for her mother's number, at which point she confided that she was bi and that her mother was not happy about it.
     Now, I don't know Jaye's mother from Eve, but I am betting that alive was better than "not bisexual."  I continued to press, at which point Jaye begged me to let her tell her mother, and at which point she swore she would not hurt herself.  Here I was in a bind; I didn't have her mother's number or address, hell, I didn't even know if her mother had the same last name, so even if I called the police (which I was very tempted to do), how could I send them to this kid? All I had was a gmail address!
     I used my suck at home mom techniques of emotional blackmail and lying, and told her that if she hurt herself she will hurt Shaelin, and her mother, and her brother and sister, and that if she didn't want me to call her mom (whose number I didn't have!) then she had to promise me she would talk to the guidance counselor (a surprisingly empathetic and intuitive woman at the middle school) first thing in the morning.  I also gave her the phone number and website for the Trevor Project, a hotline that is set up for gay youth to find help when they are feeling suicidal or just have no one to talk to.  It was the best I could do with no other information to find her family.  She promised, and swore up and down that it was just a stupid joke...but I know from experience that you joke about the truth.
     I haven't slept a wink all night...I am heading in to speak with the guidance counselor this morning to make sure it's addressed...
      I re-hashed and re-hashed the choice of not calling the police, and I can only pray that that decision doesn't have dire consequences.  So....Have any of you suck at home mom's ever felt so completely like you've failed a child who is not your own?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Me that is you

      I read somewhere that stay at home moms have the highest rate of depression over any other female.  Having experienced severe depression in the past, I can say this is not that drastic, but I can understand the statistic.  
     The thing is, you start to define yourself by nothing other than what you are to other people:  mother, wife, milk jug.  It begins with just realizing that you are constantly covered in spilled breast milk, none of your pretty things fit (between childbirth and breastfeeding), and your biggest thrill is when you manage to get out and take a walk with the baby.  It builds up as you realize you no longer have a more personal hobby than snapping pics of your precocious 5 month old.  Suddenly when someone asks you about yourself you can only describe yourself in relation to others.  You've become that home made baby food you've been making lately:  a mish mash of things that are no longer you, making you bland and somewhat un-appealing to anything other than an infant.
     Now I'm not saying that your relationship to others shouldn't define a part of you; only that it shouldn't define you in whole.  When you're a stay at home mom, and especially if, like me, you suck at it, it's all too easy to give up your own needs in favor of, well, in favor of anything else that comes up.  You can easily begin to feel a guilt that you don't bring home the bacon, or at least a compulsion to do everything else, since someone else does that.  We suffer from the delusion that if we don't do it it's unfair for anyone else to do it.  It becomes simple to decide you can't afford to do something because that money isn't in your paycheck.
     Before the good stay at home moms are up in arms, I am not saying that any of those things are true; only that it is easy to feel that way.  And I do, far too often.  I know how silly it is to think that Coffeeguy is keeping score, or that the mom police will revoke my license.  But there it is.  And worse, the very worst, is that I wonder if I asked him if even he could define me in terms that belong to myself, that define only me.  I can't bear to ask, so I guess I'll never know.
     Suck at homes, if you're out there, what do you do to remain you?  Or are you floundering around like me, wondering where me went?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bub Crawl

     Some days are just meant to suck.  I spent last night getting up every three hours to breastfeed Rose, who proceeded to drink barely enough to fill her tummy but insisted on soothing her teething by clamping down hard enough to cause pain.  At 4 am, when I usually would pump, I crawled back into bed to catch a few more minutes.
     Of course a few minutes meant I woke up three hours later--exactly when Rose woke up.  I fed her again, but she wanted to play and make screechy noises instead.  Then she proceeded to look at Coffeeguy and say "Dada" over and over again. It's maddening how we do all this extra work, suffer through nipple pain, plugged ducts, milk all over...and they are linguistically pre-conditioned to say "Dada" first.  Disgusted with the unfairness of it I decided to leave her with the half-awake Coffeeguy while I hunted down my pumping kit.
     It's a miracle of the human system that breast milk is made for your baby.  Literally for them, as in their supply and demand decides how much you make, their presence (or lack thereof) makes the milk flow faster or slower.  It's incredible, but it also means that while pumping, distractions are not a good thing.  Try pumping in a room with two Tweens.  It doesn't matter how many times I explain the way it works to Happyboy and Punkgirl, they see my Rose-less body and are so happy to have me to themselves that they launch into stories of everything that has happened to them or interested them in the last 10-12 years.  Any other time, I would listen with attention, but all I can think of while I am pumping is "please stop talking.  Rose Rose Rose Rose."  It doesn't usually work, and I'm lucky if I get a scant two ounces after pumping both breasts.
     I could move the pump into the bedroom, but Coffeeguy has the same mammary--er, memory problems as my dear children.  I end up trying to drown out politics or funny stories on Facebook.
     So this morning I was fed up, and frustrated, and when Coffeeguy handed me a tea I took it and ran.  I closed my bedroom door, sat down, and proceeded to enjoy a nice hot cup with no distractions.  It lasted two minutes.
     All three non-baby relatives called me to the other room, come quick!  As I sighed and walked in the room, they all clamored to tell me that Rose had crawled.  My baby had crawled, and while I am home with her every day, she waited for that one moment of escape to show off a new trick.  It was as if she was punishing me for finding that minute alone!
     She refused to do it again, no matter the incentive.  I stand rebuked.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Man Said Boobie.

     I generally never breastfeed in public--not so much because of my discomfort but because I really don't like making other people uncomfortable.  Just as I don't want a stranger teaching my kids about sex education, I don't want to teach someone else's kid about breastfeeding and body parts.  Since Rose is a very particular eater, I literally have to bare my breast and walk with her splayed sideways across my body, her chubby little legs sticking across my hip and her belly pressed to mine.  It's not conducive for discreet feeding, in any way, shape or form, and her tendency to pop off mid-feed and send a nipple flying leaves very little to the imagination.  So I pretty much stay home, or I bring a bottle along, or I ask the person whose house I am in if I can use another room to breastfeed.  It has worked out fairly well in Rose's five months, and I've only had to give her a soy bottle on very rare occasions.
     My mother's house is like an oasis in the desert of breastfeeding-suitable venues.  She has a long hallway, so if I'm trying to be discreet enough to not embarrass my brothers I can use the hall to walk back and forth in relative privacy. On my brother's birthday, I was just worn out enough from the emotional turmoil of missing him that I sat down in the empty dining room to feed Rose.  I put a small receiving blanket over my breast and part of Rose's head, and by some great miracle she didn't throw it off in annoyance (as she usually does.)  I was feeding her pleasantly, chatting with Coffeeguy (who had come in to keep me company), when my eldest brother's step-granddaughter toddled into the room. We'll call her Little Pip, and she's a cutie, about 2 or 3 years old, with giant brown eyes and curly hair.  
     Little Pip noticed the legs sticking out of the blanket, and conversation went something like this:
LP:  Where's the baby?
Me:  Right here.  
LP:....I want to hold her.
Me:  She's eating right now.
LP: (Looking at the blanket, brow furrowed.). I wanna feed her.
Me:  Uh, you can't feed her, because, uh, there's no bottle.
LP:  (Furrowed brow remains, she looks around the table.) I don't see her bottle.
Me:  I know, honey, there isn't a bottle.
LP:  Well I want to feed her.  Can I feed her?
Me:  Um, you can't feed her honey, because there's no bottle.
LP:  (Looking slightly annoyed) What she's eating?
Me:  ....Milk...
LP:  There's no bottle.  Where's the milk?
Me: (to Coffeeguy) Help?
Coffeeguy:  There's no bottle because the milk is in the boobie.
LP:  (long stare)....Ok.

She toddles away.  Coffeeguy waits a beat, then light dawns.

Coffeeguy:  She's going to tell someone "the man said boobie to me", isn't she?
Me:  Yup.
Coffeeguy.  "The man said boobie to me, and the lady showed me."
Me:  Yup.

I think I'll stick to breastfeeding at home again.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Foiled Again

     I've been thinking a lot about money today.  I know, I know, who hasn't?  But today it hit me that we are $34000 shorter than we were two years ago.  It seemed like such a modest amount, taking into account the number of hours I worked and the amount of aggravation... but it definitely has drastically impacted our budget.  
     Normally it wouldn't bother me--I am a pro at budget shopping and finding something that is fun and usually free to do.  But it seems like Disney, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, and a few others have all teamed up to taunt me mercilessly about what great deals they have this year.  Since we are totally living paycheck to paycheck even those great deals are way out of our reach.  Since I have a roof over my head, and food in the fridge, I know it's a first world problem...but since the very little "extra" cash I have now and then inevitably gets donated to the food bank or a disaster fund, I am giving myself the ok to bitch just a little bit.
     We've gone to Disney every year for the last five for two reasons (besides the obvious "it's fun!")  The first is that for folks who have a hard time saving they have an online payment plan if you book it through them.  You put down a couple hundred bucks, and then you can make payments every now and then until about two months before your departure I should mention, this doesn't really save you a huge amount, because you're staying either at the parks or at a Good Neighbor hotel...but it does make it easier to pay a little at a time and lock in your dates way in advance.  The second reason started out completely selfish on my part:  Disney is incredibly celiac-friendly!  They have gluten free buns, pasta, brownies, cookies...depending on which resort (Disney World or Disneyland) and which hotel, I can find dozens of things to eat at any given hour, and that is a part of vacation that is more magical than any ride or fantasy faire!  Since Punkgirl is now gluten free as well, I can make off like I'm going there to make it easier for her to eat...but we both know who the foodie is.
     We started going to Disney on our 10th anniversary in 2008.  It was going to be a once in a lifetime trip, so we took the kids, flew to CA to visit Coffeguy's brother and his five kids, and then spent 7 glorious days at the Grand Californian, a masterpiece of luxury and craftsmanship.  It was such an amazing trip we started planning immediately for the next one.  We've done both DW and Disneyland, as well as a cruise aboard the Dream, all of which were incredible adventures that allowed us to be the people we have hiding inside of us.  Happyboy, who loves to wear girls' clothes, was 5 and rocked a wig and a fairy tutu for 7 days, without one negative word said to him by the cast members at Disneyland.  It was heartwarming and magical.  Last year, when Punkgirl was going through her worst depression ever, we decided after much deliberation to go on the trip anyway.  After two days she was back to the girl we knew and loved, laughing with her brother, ditching her lowered baseball cap for a jaunty mad hatter headband.  Even my mother, who hates to leave home, was wooed by its whimsy and romance.  It is my favorite place in the universe.
     All of which makes the impossibility of going this year (and maybe next year, and the next) so much harder to bear.  I want to shed these four walls for the bright outdoors of the Magic Kingdom, I want to be thrilled away from my worries on Splash Mountain or the Indiana Jones ride, I want to soothe away my sorrows with a Dole Pineapple Whip.  I want to watch my kids be themselves, go with the flow, dance to unheard music, and I want to hear them laugh that unfettered laugh that comes with true freedom.  There are no chores in the MK, no homework, no bills staring at me--oh, I know they'll be there when we get home, but while we're there they don't exist.  Even on what we call our "peasant days", where we go through Disney spending not one dime.  
     So I guess when I say I'm thinking a lot about money, I'm really thinking about not having to think about money.  Not a novel problem, I know, and there are lots of others who have it worse off than we are...but I'm looking sullenly at a pile of toys in the living room, which I know will have to be cleaned, dried, and put away; and a load of dishes in the sink that need to go into the dishwasher, but that can't until said dishwasher is unloaded...and a pile of laundry that needs to be washed.  They're taunting me too.  "No vacation for you," they say.  "No running away."
   Drats. Foiled Again.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The breastfeeding crack hormone

     I mentioned in my very first post that Rose is breastfeeding.  I didn't mention the love/hate relationship that I have with breastfeeding.  I formula-fed Punkgirl and Happyboy ten and twelve years ago, and other than a tendency for Punkgirl to projectile vomit if you didn't burp her at EXACTLY two ounces, they were fine with it.  We had a strong relationship, we bonded perfectly fine, and my husband got to share in the feedings.
     Unfortunately Punkgirl inherited my celiac disease.  For those of you that don't know, cd is a digestive disorder that controls your life.  The only remedy is to go on a completely wheat/gluten free diet.  In researching symptoms in children (I suspect Happyboy has not escaped the inevitable gluten free--GF--diet) I found a study that concluded that if you breastfed for at least 6 months and introduced gluten in the 5th/6th month, you drastically reduce your child's chances of cd.  It was worth it to me.
     Then came Rose.  Removed by c-section, she came out unhappy that she had been removed from my nice warm womb.  She cried vigorously until the moment that my husband held her next to me and she held my pinky in her hand.  From that moment I was hooked.
     I firmly believe (through no scientific evidence) that the hormones released during breastfeeding are like crack.  They are a feel-good hormone, which I will admit, skeeved me out when I read about it.  Who wants to feel good with a baby on their boob?  But it happens, and the only way to describe it is that there is actually nothing sexual about your breast when your baby is suckling.  And she did, the very first time I put her on, she was a champ!  She knew exactly what to do and where to go, and she fed and filled her little belly, then burped and feel asleep on my chest.  It was magical.
     That lasted a day.  On day two (after your chemical mind is hooked on the love  and pride you feel when breastfeeding goes well) Rose forgot how to breastfeed.  I know, I know, how the heck does she forget?!  But she did.  She couldn't latch on, which made her cry, and thanks to complications from a spinal headache I very nearly had a breakdown over it.  But I pulled myself together (as I often do) and sucked it up and called the nurse.  I was pretty unprepared for the, uh, hands-on portion of the "breast is best" philosophy.  They don't tell you when they say breast is best that you may find a nurse squishing your boob like it's one of those stress-reliever balls to try to fit it into baby's mouth.  I looked at her in horror, looked at Rose in horror, and vowed never to push that call button ever again.  She finally decided, after twisting my breast into a mammary pretzel, that I would need a nipple shield.  The shield is a small piece of silicone that fits over your nipple to help the baby find it.  It's messy, it's a coordination nightmare, and it's going to be your worst enemy if you don't realize that it's only supposed to be temporary--which I didn't.  But it works.  And getting that milk into your baby's mouth will be your priority, so you will grin and bear it first, then cry and bear it, and then finally beat down the door of a lactation consultant despite the fact that you swore you wouldn't go there because you need to feed without the damn thing dribbling milk all over you.
     The other thing they don't tell you, after helping you pump in the hospital, is that you only need to pump both breasts until your milk comes in.  So there I was, at home, happily pumping away, saving ounce after ounce in the freezer! I was a milk machine!!  But in doing so, my breastfeeding relationship with Rose became my nightmare.  I had a massive oversupply, causing reflux, foul exploding diapers, and worst of all, it would cause Rose to choke horribly on all of that milk. It was as if I was water-boarding my baby.  I almost resolved to quit (but I swear, those breastfeeding crack hormones make you want to succeed at breastfeeding--there's no other explanation.)  The bf crack coupled with Rose's milk allergy (discovered through an elimination diet after she broke out in an itchy rash all over her body) meant we couldn't even just switch over to formula, so I scoured the Internet (after finding the first lc's direction to stop pumping completely and to block feed, switching breasts every three hours, unhelpful.  I did them, but still my milk would literally squirt across the room.)  I found all kinds of resources...but none of them worked.  As one friend put it, I had turbo boobs that just wouldn't quit.  I later rationalized that I must love Rose so much that I over-produce as a direct result of that love.  It sounds silly...but try pumping without looking at a picture of your baby, and then try it while looking at one.  You'll see a difference, because your brain is thinking "awwwww I love you" and causing your milk to respond to that.  It's a bio-mechanical marvel.
     So hours of crying--on both our parts--led me to Marie.  I was searching for any answer...I had tried uphill feeding, block feeding, I never pumped (which also meant I couldn't go anywhere if I didn't want to supplement with soy milk, because I never had reserves.)  Marie was a lactation consultant--lc-- in CA who I met online and who saved me from feeling yet again like I had completely failed at the stay-at-home Mom portion of the program.  I had felt like I was constantly covered in milk, like I had too much to feed Rose but also couldn't give it to her without a crazy dance of drink a little, splutter, cry, drink a little more, splutter, get squirted in the face, cry--and that was just me.  Marie took detailed information about Rose's poop, her sleeping habits, my pumping habits, her reflux, her fussy times....and turned it into a plan to get us back on track.  Now, I should mention, most of my bf friends had told me I would get to this point if I "just hold on a little longer", but I was slowly losing my sanity and I began to think they were lying!  (You know, fellow baby-crack addicts do lie sometimes.)
     And it sounds like such a good problem to have--too much milk? How is that a bad thing?  But it is, and it leaves you feeling like you can't even feed your baby properly.  Now, I know, I just explained that Marie saved us, so what's not to love about breastfeeding?  Try cooking dinner.  Rose instinctively screamed for milk every time I cooked.  I changed dinner time.  I tried making a bottle (back when I still had a stockpile of milk) so Coffeeguy (that's my man) could feed her.  No, Rose won't have it.  She has to either be feeding as I cook or be sitting in an infant chair watching me cook, eyeing me like a little tyrant waiting to lash me should I stop talking to her.  She has begun to follow my every move, keeping an eye on her precious milk supply as if pirates were bound to come forth and steal me.  Again, it sounds so cute, but try going to pee and having to take her with you just to avoid the piercing screech that all three of my children were "gifted" with!  
     I guess my point here is that I'm still not sure if breastfeeding is as rewarding as they say--I mean, yes...there are (now) those moments where you lay quietly feeding her in the morning, and she looks into your eyes and you feel like the Queen of the World...but I have to wonder why I have continued so long?  I've said before, I'm a suck-at-home-Mom, so it's not out of any earthy-crunchy or breast is best mentality...and it certainly hasn't been "easier" than bottle-feeding!  I have to go back to that theory.  The breastfeeding crack hormone theory.  Any of you suck-at-home Moms have a breastfeeding crack addiction?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Balloons for Heaven

     Rose is a little cranky today.  I have to admit, so am I.  Today would have been my youngest brother's 43rd birthday, and instead of harassing him with cracks about his age, my family will gather to write messages on balloons to send them up "to Heaven."  Sometimes I feel a small hate towards those balloons, jealous that they get to go where I cannot, but then I remember why we started sending them up in the first place.
     My brother died of meningitis when Punkgirl, who was his Goddaughter, was just three months old.  I named Happyboy after him, to carry on his name, but not to fill those very big shoes.  Happyboy never met Big Bro...but he talks about him and remembers every story we have told him.  We have kept big brother alive through our little ceremonies and through our constant chatter about the hilarious Uncle Big.  It pains me every year to think that they will not experience the full force of his personality.  If my mother is the heart of our family, Uncle Big was the arms that held us all together, a big goofy guy with a wicked sense of humor and a sympathetic ear for anyone who needed it.
     The kids are uber-excited for today.  To them it means cake, and sending the balloons, and connecting with an Uncle they never really got to meet.  To me it is bittersweet...I love that they remember him this way, but it underscores that he isn't here.  He was less than two years older than me, and I miss him like crazy.
      But back to Rose...she is feeling a little cranky, hating the ride in the car when she has just learned to sit up.  It's as if she wants to know how we can strangle her magnificent sitting skills by sticking her in that awful rear-facing car seat?  We play take the binky/ drop the binky game in the car all the way to Mom's house, just to bring my stress level up to its highest peak.  One thing we never skimped on was her lungs...
     As we arrive at Mom's she falls asleep, as if to say "Gotcha!"  but never fear, within fifteen minutes she decides she has stranger anxiety.  She is wooed back to happiness through Mom's floating false teeth trick, a kid pleaser for years.  Pretty soon it will be time to write on our balloons, and I realize I don't know what to write from Rose.  "I miss you" doesn't fit.  "I wish I had met you" is too...small.  I am reminded of song lyrics, and I've got it..."I'll miss you till I meet you."
     Suck-At-Home-Moms, what are your traditions for remembering those who have passed?  Do they help, or do you too wish you could fly away with the balloons?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Suck At Home Mom

     There I was...feeling dissatisfied with myself and everything around me.  It came as a shock, two years after I had left the workforce to become a Stay At Home Mom (s-a-h-m.)
     I didn't originally leave willingly--I was fired pretty much for having a pissing contest with my boss. I'm still not sure who actually won that one, because I couldn't bring myself to leave but hated to stay.  The first two weeks I cried.  I had worked since I was 14, and I had never been fired from any job, much less one I had worked at for9 years and to which I had given my all.  But then I found the novelty of taking a break could help me clear my head to find a job that didn't require me to leave my soul at the door.
     Months became a year, and after spending my working years having several miscarriages and a cancerous molar pregnancy, I found myself pregnant again.  I didn't think it would last...I bled at the beginning, and at five weeks they could see nothing.  I was prepared for another miscarriage, but instead I was given the gift of "Rose."
     Now, I should say here, I love Rose, and Punkgirl (12) and Happyboy (10) more than anything in the universe.  But I'm not perfect, and neither are they.  They drive me crazy, frustrate me, wear me down...and make me happy, proud, and content at times, too.  They are not the cause of my discontent, but they are part of the reason.  You see, Punkgirl was having anxiety attacks and suicidal thoughts, Happyboy was having a hard time in school, and Rose, well, Rose is breastfeeding, which is a whole other post in itself.  All together, they needed Mommy--not half of Mommy, but that all I had been giving to work for so long.  I decided that since finding a job that would allow me to be home by 2:25 and would pay me enough to pay for a babysitter for Rose was nearly impossible, it made more sense to become a s-a-h-m, breastfeeding and making my own baby food to save money, taking Punkgirl to dance and therapy, spending some extra time with Happyboy in the evenings.
     But I didn't count on failing at it.  Oh, nobody else thinks I'm husband tells me that he would have given up breastfeeding "after the first few weeks" (due to an awful oversupply issue that was almost the end of our bf relationship.)  My mother says, "You're the best mother I know."  Even my best girlfriends think I am doing a bang-up job.  But when you've been in the workforce for so long, you have come to rely on the performance review or your boss's comments, or a thank you from a co-worker for your sense of self-worth.  When that is gone, and you see the dishes piling up, or the bedroom has become a disaster zone, or your child is still having issues in school despite the fact that you are home, you can only assume that your performance review would say "unsatisfactory."
     I know there are the Moms out there who will tell you that being there for your children is the greatest job you can have, and that it is tough but so worth it../well, ok, in the scheme of things, having this time with them will be worth it, but it doesn't help my self-esteem.  I find myself wearing the same four (bf accessible) tank tops and two pairs of jeans, sometimes I don't bother brushing my hair (or I don't have time, thank you, Rose), and sometimes I find myself thinking that my husband has put more effort into looking good than I have.  It's fairly demoralizing.
     Ok, so now you are thinking, so why not change it?  Get a job, do your hair, etc.  There's a problem here that is difficult to explain if you've never been a suck-at-home-mom.  To clarify, I don't mean those Moms who stay at home and are great at it---not that they are always content or happy or don't have problems, but that they can juggle a baby on a hip, keep the house clean, volunteer at school and still manage to look like a normal human being.  I am not that Mom.  I also feel I can't work to pay for daycare, because then not only did I fail, but I gave up and letting someone else raise my baby.  And it isn't that I don't want to raise her, I love her; or that I don't want to brush my hair...but if I have five minutes it's a choice between my living room getting cleaned or brushing my hair.  Since no one will see me but I can see the living room, it wins every damned time.
     I don't know the answer here.  I am slowly falling into a discontent that I may not be able to change for years...but I know I can't be the only suck-at-home-mom out there, and maybe if we can all connect, somehow we can turn this into a win.  I have a friend who is a Mary Kay consultant, and even though I don't wear makeup and suck at remembering skin care, I am considering asking to join her team, just to once again feel like I am contributing, not just to the household, but to a business, to society, to my own self-worth.  I know that I contribute to the household by getting up in the middle of the night to take care of Rose, and by cooking dinner and finding the least expensive groceries...but there aren't any incentives for that other than Rose's smiles (which, ok, are killer) and making it to my man's next paycheck without resorting to mustard sandwiches for dinner (again, ok, maybe that's a fairly good incentive, but it's not sexy, is it?)
     So....Suck-At-Home-Moms...can you tell me, what have you done to turn things around....or have you?