Motherhood

A day.

13. The Fall of Acadia

Sometimes you have days. Shitty ones. And sometimes the days aren’t even whole days, they’re just mornings, which is even shittier because how have you managed to get yourself into this state before noon?!

Sometimes those mornings look like waking up too early after staying  up until 4am because you finally discovered what all the fuss about Downton Abbey was really about (oh my god. Seriously. Why did I wait so long? Why did I watch the first episode at midnight? Why does netflix just automatically play the next one so you’re sitting there barely conscious but thinking, “Well at this point it would take more effort to not watch it…”)

The Downton-night came on the heels of a fight with your lovely husband, who neglected to tell you about a work dinner he had to attend after working all day, but you both know that “work dinner” means “work dinner, and then drinks, and then a pub, and then a bar, and don’t wait up, ok?” After a long day of talking to a tiny creature all day- for what feels like every second of the day- you kind of wanted to be heard. You wanted someone to listen to you, and understand. To appreciate your wit and laugh at your stories, and not ask you to talk in a Minnie Mouse voice. It wasn’t the end of the world that last night was not that night, but it felt like it. At the time.

Overreaction, might be an appropriate term. If an understated one.

But this morning starts well enough, aside from the self-induced fatigue – but you have no one but yourself to blame for that. You go and cuddle a deliciously newborn baby and suddenly your baby doesn’t seem so baby anymore. The gap between this life – the toddler one – and the hazy, warm, milky newborn days seems to yawn so wide it’s almost unrecognizable. You sit there with your arm gently aching under the sweet 7 pound weight and you think, Do I miss this? Do I even remember this?

Then it’s time to leave and the toddler starts screaming just as you walk out the door, and you grab her and run like some kind of crazed lunatic who has made the terrible decision to shoplift a small child – and you hope her shrieks won’t have woken the little one. Next on the list is grocery shopping so you swing by your house to get grocery bags and as you come in you realize that don’t hear your dog’s telltale woofing. On a hunch you walk into your bedroom and catch him mid-sneak as he tries to slither off your bed. With it’s freshly washed sheets. White sheets. Well, they were white, anyway.

Fuck that dog, you think. And for a moment you honestly loathe him because at this precise moment dog ownership just feels like backyards full of shit and floors coated in dog hair (HOW IS THERE SO MUCH? HOW IS HE NOT BALD?) and white sheets that are now stained with drool and muck and god knows what else. Again.

When you are done scolding the dog and feeling like a terrible person for hating your dog, you get the bags and go to the car, where the toddler has now removed her shoes and socks again and then on the way to the grocery store she wants music- but not the radio, she wants you to sing “Itsy Bitsy Fider” over and over and over again (where did she even hear that song?)

When you are done, and you say no more after the fifteenth round, she loses her mind, like, LOSES it. And you think to yourself, No. No, I am not bringing this shit show to the grocery store where I will spend eleven aisles placating and negotiating and pleading with her to please keep her shoes on, PLEASE while the childless and aged judge with cold eyes. No.

So you decide you will go grocery shopping tonight, because thank god that these modern soulless food warehouse are open until 11pm. And how pathetic that the thought of grocery shopping alone at 11pm sounds so blissful right then. But now the Downton-induced exhaustion is setting in and you decide that a coffee shop drive through is needed. The drive-throughs that you always scorn (Don’t we even have time to go in and get our own coffees anymore?) and insist on spelling out the proper way (don’t we even have time to spell properly anymore?) You order a ridiculously overpriced London Fog made with peppermint tea (the best, the BEST) but as you take a sip at the first light you realize it is not, in fact, peppermint tea. They made a mistake.

But you can’t get angry about it, you know? It’s too ridiculous. You refuse to complete that thought or fit neatly into this stereotype. Because right now your whole life is a cliche. The tantruming toddler and the children’s music and the white stay-at-home-mom crying because the drive-through got her tea wrong.

*****

On days like this what you want to do is go home and find something, anything to occupy your toddler while you crawl under your covers with your wrong tea and finish every single last one of that fantastic TV show you are finally watching two years after everyone else has. But you shouldn’t do that, because it will only make you feel more like shit.

Here’s what you do. You sit down and compose an utterly nonsensical and rambling (yet cathartic, so very cathartic) blog post entirely in the third person (because then it seems less whiny? less ridiculous? more likely that someone will say “Me too”?)

Read over it once to correct the most egregious of your typos, and realize how small it sounds, how petty.

Hit publish anyway, and then go get your shit together.

Wash your sheets. Again. Scour your house from top to bottom. Get every last sock and towel washed and dried. Clean out the fridge (finally). Make meal plans for your late-night shopping trip. Maybe ignore your toddler a little bit,  just a little, so you can throw off this mood with the sheer force of your getting-shit-done-ness.

Do all of this while ignoring your menstrual cramps. Ignore the horrid feeling of the word “menstrual”. Swallow your pills. Make lists. Vacuum dog hair. Take out the compost. Apologize to your husband.

Buck the cliche. try to feel different.

Try to feel better.

20 Comments

  • Reply redbirdheather October 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Wonderful, thank you for writing this. Keep moving, you can do it!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine October 26, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Isn’t it nice reading about other people’s shitty days? They are some of my favourite posts sometimes. I like how stripped the words become, and learning how everyone manages.

      • Reply redbirdheather October 26, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        Not that I enjoy your suffering, but it is helpful to remember that everyone has days that just don’t seem to work! I appreciate that it can be difficult to be so vulnerable, and still let a post like this free on the internet. Everybody just keep on truckin’…

  • Reply Emily October 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I love your honesty. Of course, we all feel this way at times. I applaud your efforts to right the ship. I’ll try to do it, too.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine October 26, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Yes. Get Shit Done is the motto today. I’ve done a top to bottom clean and feel very accomplished and righteous 😉

  • Reply Abbie October 26, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Me too.. There I said it..
    It was Wednesday of last week right down to my coffee experience. I had a free coupon that I was holding onto..waiting for a day when a designer coffee felt necessary. Purchasing coffee on other days just to save the free one for the moment it was most appreciated. So when I had day from hell with the toddler… grey, whiny, home bound, I ventured out with plans for my perfect latte. Thank you coffee shop for making my coffee “skinny”. I was really hoping you would turn my long awaited coffee into a cancer filled aspartame brew.. Awesome. Of course it took me half the cup and ten miles away to fully realize this.. Sorry to go on about my coffee but that’s how mad I was. Perfect ending to a F’ed day. Luckily days have been much better since!! I no longer hold on to coupons.. Lol

    • Reply sweetmadeleine October 26, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Isn’t that horrible?! The treat to negate the horrible day becomes the straw that breaks the day’s back! Not glad that you’ve been there, but glad for the recognition and the empathy 🙂

  • Reply Katie October 26, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    To maybe help your day get a little better…
    I set up a “little free library” at my son’s private waldorf school and put your book in it for my book contribution. It was gone on the first day! So another reader is enjoying your awesome book right now 😉

    I have days like this often, too. And then I remind myself that at least I am able to take care of my family and that I’m blessed to be a mom even when my kids drive me nearly insane…. this is of course after having too many of those days all in a row and it got to the point where I found homes for our dogs (they kept getting sick with diarrhea EVERYWHERE and waking me up every single night ALL NIGHT so I hadn’t had enough sleep in 2 weeks and $700 in vet bills in two weeks…. come to find out, they were eating mushrooms in the backyard that made them sick….. so yes. I remind myself of my blessings…. and my blessings no longer include two dogs…. just two kids and a husband who is gone 70% of the year…. at least the bills are paid? At least I can be a stay at home mom….? At least I’m not completely nuts yet? Ha!

    Good luck with your next day, sure to come sooner than you are ready for, as always!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine October 27, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      That makes me SO happy! Thank you so much for setting up the library, for donating a copy of my book, and for passing on such a cool story!

  • Reply Sam pereira October 26, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Oh my Lord YES! The shitty shitty days! Hang in there sista x

  • Reply Amy October 26, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    1) Yes, we all have such shitty days.
    2) I am a 54 year old mother of a 14 year old, so I am passed those infant and toddler things, but I remember them. Although I usually didn’t go at 11pm, I do remember little shopping excursions in the evening, by myself, and enjoying them in a way I never thought I would enjoy a trip to the grocery store! And I remember my husband the plumber, who often has to work late, FINALLY coming home and hating to ask him to take over parenting duties after his own long day, but being so grateful there was another adult around to answer the 724th toddler question of the day so I could just space out and not think about anything.
    3) I was 40 when I had my daughter, and only a year and a half earlier had finally begun to accept and deal with my long-term, low-grade depression. As a new mom, it was enough for me to get up in the morning, shower, keep myself fed, my daughter nursed and changed, and the laundry done. You had a morning like that and then cleaned your house from top to bottom. Excuse me but WHY!!?? Chill out honey!
    4) Thank god you finally came to your senses and started watching Downton Abbey, it is one of those things that life is better because of. And I say chill out as you only have until January to catch up with the previous seasons before the new one airs. The house cleaning is secondary, seriously!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine October 27, 2014 at 12:32 AM

      I think with a newborn I would have – and DID – have a bed day. But these days I really miss, and crave, the feeling of accomplishing something. *Especially* on a day when so much else doesn’t seem to be going…it’s like a last-ditch attempt at control! Who am I fooling 😉

      • Reply Amy October 27, 2014 at 6:15 AM

        Yes, actually, I do understand that. I remember once trying to explain it to a friend of my husband’s. He was a dad of a teenage girl that he had wound up raising mostly on his own, and I guess they didn’t even have a TV, and I was getting defensive about my occasional use of videos so I could get something done. I was trying to explain to him how I was used to working in an office and feeling like I could get things done and needed that feeling again. I don’t think he got it. So, yes, sometimes it does help to regain some sense of tangible accomplishment.

  • Reply Jackie October 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I just want to thank you for being so honest. I completely had one of those days today and reading this made me feel like I wasn’t living in my own silly world where nothing went totally wrong but still it was more than I felt like handling. 17 month old son who won’t stop shrieking and saying “UP, NO, MAMA” in the sweetest but kind of annoying voice that sounded like nails on a chalkboard, husband who thought it would be ok to leave for 3 hours in the AM to for a run and then go watch the football game for another 3 hours. I work from home and on days like that on a weekend it feels like any regular day during the week ,NOT the weekend i look forward to! Feels good to commiserate!

  • Reply Amy Crookes (@amyinsingapore) October 26, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    I went to the supermarket alone yesterday and even ducked into K-Mart to do a little Christmas shopping, ahhh the bliss! only to walk into a house an hour and a half later with a toddler and a husband so pleased to see me. It appears I was longer than they expected and tempers were frayed. Why do we get 1.5 hours once a week and even then you feel guilty coming back to scenes like this. Why he even expected to get jobs done while she just watched barbie was beyond me! why couldn’t he take her to park or for a hot chocolate and make the time enjoyable for them both. Yep venting feels good! I hope you enjoy more Downton, I love it as well.

  • Reply Andrea October 26, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    I tried to watch Downton in the hospital hours after giving birth- it’s that good!
    And yes, ditto you and everyone else. On my worst days I have a motto of ‘parent like someone’s watching’ and it actually helps me do better, even though it sounds like it wouldn’t.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine October 27, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      I do the EXACT same thing! It helps me scrounge the last reserves of patience and I can usually get through. Funny you do it, too!

  • Reply lilymama October 27, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    thank you. thank you. I too am feeling shitty. ugh. toddlers. husbands. marriage. money. I wish I had answers AND my regular sense of optimism. misery loves company I guess.

  • Reply Jaime October 28, 2014 at 11:19 PM

    Ha! Perfect. timing! I was asking myself ‘i hope i’m not the only Mum ready to lose her shit at 9.30am’ and ‘who decides to have two kids 14 months apart?!t’ just this morning. Usually, my antidote is to muster some energy, chuck the kids in the pram and walk it out. It works most of the time, although doesn’t get the washing hung out…. *shrugs shoulders*

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