Balance (Or the Lack Thereof)

It’s too much. This has been an underlying theme of many of my posts this year, but it is lending to an unhealthy  obsession so I need (again) to articulate it in a way I can cut and paste, rearrange, and pick out the important from the whiny so I can figure out what is really at the root of my tenderness.

In a past life, I have been a baby sitter of everything from newborns to 12 year-olds unless you count my time as a camp counselor in which case we’ll say 15 year-olds. I have three nephews. I’ve spent days in kindergarten classrooms, church nurseries, and watched day campers at the YMCA. Each age brings with it a unique brand of weariness, from the physical damage of sharing and rotating pony rides for a solid hour to the mental depletion of answering philosophical questions in a manner inconsistent with the desires of the family. But the key; I always gave the kids back. There was always an end in sight. A few hours a night, a few days at the most. This too shall pass, and I could always pinpoint when.

I’m sure there will be so much more for me to learn and understand as I grow this tiny person, but for now it feels like under 1’s combine every type of physical, mental, and emotional burden for a gigantic wallop of real life adulthood. Hannah is exhausting, and she’s all mine. I can’t give her back.

It is almost impossible to do anything else when acting as the official guardian for Hannah. She changes the rules constantly and it’s hard to keep up. Sometimes you can put her on the floor and she’ll happily bang spoons around or stand leaning against the kitchen island or couch or wall. On those days, I can get a few dishes washed, a few bottles made, a sandwich roughed together before I have to stop her from sucking on the chair leg, get her unstuck from the bars of the baby gate, or comfort her from her own lack of balance and the jolt from her 26 inch drop to the floor (her current height). On some days, she cannot abide to be on the floor by herself and so the choice becomes sitting on the floor with her or listening to her shriek. Sometimes sitting on the floor doesn’t stop the shrieking and the only thing that will work is loading her into car seat and taking a drive or loading her into the baby carrier and taking a walk. Sometimes nothing works.

We’ve made our initial attempt at baby proofing the house, but there are still an average of 10 things a day that Hannah finds that we didn’t. Like the toilet paper holder in the bathroom , or the bug that happened to die and land on the kitchen floor, or the piece of shredded cheese that was literally dropped 2 seconds ago OMG child how did you get so fast???? (Bella’s spirit lives on.) We have a room blocked off just for her where we can close her in and feel fairly confident that she will not be in mortal danger, but she promptly decided she hates it in there because she can’t figure out how to put herself into mortal danger (I’m convinced that’s the reason). She likes the scenery to change every so often but its a game of roulette to find a room or activity that will stop the crying. So do you let her play on the brick fireplace because she loves waving to herself in the brass fittings? Let her shove plant leaves in her mouth because they’re small enough she won’t choke and your relatively certain they’re non-toxic? How far is too far for a few minutes of peace and quiet?

I completely understand when I get home from work and the house looks like a bomb exploded inside. I love my husband dearly, but general home maintenance has never been his strong suit. Nor have mornings, and when his day starts at 7:00 or 7:30 I consider it a small wonder if Hannah has clothes on by the time I get home. But the house does need to be maintained. We need dishes washed and laundry folded and clutter managed and this is where we are rutting and butting heads lately.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear here that work is no picnic at the moment. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback lately, so I feel like this area of my life has maybe been going better than I may have assessed, but that doesn’t change the total drag of mental energy and climbing stress levels and the constant feeling of being out of control. Then there’s the drive home where the primary things on my mind are how late I stayed at work, how badly Hannah is probably crying, how I must have missed something and have made Shelby late for the theatre. So when I walk in to the demilitarized zone of a living room and the hazardous waste area of the kitchen and the tower of tumbling diapers and whatever fresh hell Hannah ripped into the universe that day, I’d kinda like a minute to change my clothes before I tag in.

I don’t get an hour of just me time. I don’t get a weekend to sleep in. I don’t even get a break during nap-time yet Shelby is able to take full advantage of my being home for several nap-times of his own. And when am I supposed to pay the bills? Or deal with the stupid townhouse that still doesn’t have a renter or a buyer? And answer all the texts from friends and family about our calendars while trying to keep Hannah from sucking on power cords or breaking the door off the X-box that Shelby is playing? Some of this is admittedly self inflicted. A little martyrdom for a chance at a big cash-in on Mother’s Day or my birthday or the random Tuesday I totally flip out and do whatever I want. I let Shelby go to shows and drinks after, but mostly because I feel guilty about being away from her so much, or more accurately, sticking him with her so much. I let him sleep until noon on Saturday so I dont have to deal with two grumps.

And that’s the crux of it really, I am having a really difficult time balancing my “needs” with the needs of my family. Do I really neeeeeeeeeed a shower and an extra hour in bed? Probably not. Will it go a long way to making the rest of my day more enjoyable? Yes. Is it worth asking for? I am unable to come to a definitive answer. We’re talking about it. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of being respectful of each other. I don’t think I was as transparent with him as I was on the blogosphere. I have set some expectations and he has voiced his struggles. 7 months after she broke into the world kicking and screaming, she is still rocking us to the core in every way imaginable. It’s a good thing she’s cute.


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