To the Two Week Old Mother

I saw this post on Facebook and thought I would respond here. Since her name is blurred out, I cannot respond to her personally.

2 week

I confess, I love having a clean house, but mine isn’t. It’s a mess. I have food hiding in my couch. I have things smeared on my walls. I am not lazy.

My morning starts off at 6:15am. I spend 15min on my devotional and prayer. I wake Buddy up at 6:30. He’s not a morning person (neither am I, really). The above mother’s only child is only two weeks old. She has no idea if her child has autism. I hope that if her child is autistic, the mother’s attitude changes. She’ll need it.

I wake my oldest child so he can start getting ready for school. I talk to Buddy while I make his lunch, trying to coax him awake and up and dressed. His bus arrives at 7. It takes me that 30min to get him dressed and out the door if he doesn’t want to go. Most days, he doesn’t. Notice that I didn’t mention breakfast? None of us get it unless we wake up earlier. Nobody wants to; tried it at the beginning of the school year, and it wasn’t worth it.

My oldest son goes to a special school for brilliant kids, and there isn’t a bus, so he has to be driven across town. I’m usually home around 7:30, though. I fix Lily her breakfast (the only one who gets to eat it!), and I workout for an hour since half an hour wasn’t enough. I shower, putting the time at 9am. I usually skip shaving to keep my time down, and I only wash my hair every other day. I get us ready to leave, since we have something to do nearly every day. As an example, Thursdays, tomorrow, we have a playgroup at the library, the only time I get to talk to other mothers. Fridays is grocery shopping. Mondays are errands.

We come home and grab a snack. My husband works overnights, so this is nearly the only time I can spend with him. I have half an hour before I start working on lunch. After lunch, my daughter goes down for a nap. I have an hour and a half to check my email, do my schoolwork, make any phone calls, balance the checkbook, do yard work, etc. Sometimes, if it’s a light day, I can get some cleaning done. I usually pick laundry so that the kids don’t end up throwing them around the house.

I have to pick up my oldest son from school and rush back to meet the bus to pick up Buddy. The kids have a snack while we chat about their day. I assist with homework, read any notes the teachers sent home, etc.

I work on dinner. I took notes yesterday. I can either keep an eye on my kids OR make them a nutritious dinner. Dinner was due to be done at 5pm. Here are my notes:

4:15pm – started heating oil. Went to pat down chicken but Lily had a wet diaper. Changed her.

Patted the chicken dry and rubbed herbs into it. Lily started crying that Buddy wouldn’t play with her. Washed my hands and settled them down.

Put the chicken into the oil. Lily tells me she needs a diaper change. I remind her I just changed her. “Oh, yeah.”

Flipped the chicken. Lily told me she needed a diaper again. I turn around, and Lily is covered in poop. I remove the chicken, turn off the burner, and clean her up. And then the chair she was sitting in. And the floor. And the wall she fell against while running. And Buddy, who thought it was chocolate. And the toys he freaked out and smeared the poop on when he discovered the hard way it wasn’t chocolate. Oh gross.

4:45pm – Restarted dinner. Dinner should now be done at 5:30pm. I chop the onion, garlic, and slice the lemon.

Buddy and Lily sound like they’re having too much fun. Those of us who have been parents longer than two weeks know this sound. I go to investigate and find that they have both dragged their toy boxes into the hall and are throwing their toys into their older brother’s room. I scold them and tell them to clean them up. I will have to repeat this order every few minutes or put dinner on hold to watch them do it. Since I have had years of experience, I choose to call out to them every few minutes and peek around the corner to give my best, “You aren’t goofing off instead of cleaning, are you?” stare.

My oldest son finished his homework and went to his room and saw what they did. He decides to retaliate. I have to intervene.

For a few moments, everything is silent and happy. I clean up what I can from my making dinner and start loading the dishwasher.

I realize things are too quiet. I go look and find that the cabinet was not relocked after snack time, and Buddy had stolen food and shared with Lily. Buddy is a hoarder; I know that whatever I catch him with, there is more hidden somewhere in the house for him to access later. I scold them both, clean up the mess, and get back to dinner just before it starts to burn.

5:45pm – dinner. 45min late.

After dinner is bath time, they brush their teeth, and, if there is time, they clean up their room before story time at 6:25pm. They are in bed at 6:30pm. I have a class that starts then and runs until 8pm. I take on-line classes, so I don’t have to worry about trying to get to campus and back, or who is going to watch the kids. This is good, since the kids aren’t usually in bed at 6:30, and I am often late.

Because the younger two, especially Buddy, demand so much of my time, after my class is the only time I can spend with my oldest. We usually play a game or work on a puzzle. At 9, we have to stop. I send him to take a shower and get ready for bed, and I go wake up my husband so he can get ready for work. I talk to him about my day while I start getting ready for bed.

After he leaves at about 10pm, I should be in bed in order to get my 8 hours of sleep. I don’t. Instead, I spend this time prepping for the next day, feeding the cats and giving them water, pay the bills, and whatever else I can do (including cleaning, if I can) before I’m too tired to function. It’s usually 1am.

Thursday afternoons my oldest has book club. Mondays is Pokemon. Sundays is church. Saturdays is either Home Depot or Lowe’s, another club, and Buddy plays football. There are doctor, dentist, optometrist, vet, orthodontist, and parent/teacher appointments. I meet with Buddy’s teachers frequently to discuss how he is progressing and whether or not something needs to be changed. School functions, library functions, we volunteered to clean up from the tornado that recently blew through here, fundraisers, 5ks, and youth group.

So, tell me, O Wise Mother, am I lazy? When do I have time to clean my house? Should I skip the workouts and let myself get fat? Should I stop making healthy meals? Skip my shower? Tell my kids they can’t do anything outside of school? What, with all of your vast experience and knowledge, should I do differently?

You don’t know. You don’t know what it’s like to put yourself and your wants and needs on hold to provide for your children, to give them a perfectly clean house, to sacrifice so that they have the best possible childhood they can and grow up to be incredible adults. You don’t know what it’s like to think you finally have it all together, only to have it all fly apart because you got so sick you couldn’t shift away from the toilet without throwing up again, or because a child needed you and the others acted out. You don’t know what it’s like to recover from being sick and discover the house that you spent so much time getting clean is now trashed.

You don’t know what it’s like to have an autistic child. I have to stay on schedule, or he falls apart. I have to deal with meltdowns and behavior that may not make sense to you, but it does to him. If he doesn’t want to brush his teeth, I have to coax him into it. He’s almost six, and he’s stronger than I am; I can’t (and won’t) pin him down to do it, which would cause more harm than good. What is a simple haircut for you terrifies him and lasts about an hour for just a trim. You have no idea how different a six year old is from a two week old.

You say that your child would never smear peanut butter on the curtains because you would never leave them alone long enough. What if you were sick? Do you take them into the bathroom with you? What if you thought they were napping, you even checked on them, but the moment you went to do something, they slipped out? Do you stay in the room with them while they sleep? Do you get dressed in front of them?

Judging from your post, I can guess that you don’t have to worry about schoolwork, like I do. I am happy for you. When my husband and I lost our jobs at the same time, I found that no one cared about my experience. I had to have a degree in order to find a job, which I did not have. I am a few weeks away from my Bachelor’s degree. Maybe the extra time will be that edge I need in order to keep a perfectly clean house and get a good night’s sleep.

I doubt it.

What would you do?

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3 thoughts on “To the Two Week Old Mother

  1. Yes! This FB new mama falls into that hilarious category of adults who know *exactly* how to be a parent -without having any parenting experience. At some point parents realize that these children have their own minds, emotions, and bodies and it is impossible to be the supreme commander in a healthy way. Messes are important. That’s all life is. *shaking my head* that poor baby of hers is either going to be so controlled and anxious, or that new mama is going to become depressed and rage-ful when kiddo doesn’t do what she wants.
    Great post – love your day’s timeline! Thank you for your honesty and good luck at school!

    Like

    1. Thanks for your feedback! I was worried I would end up with a bunch of moms claiming to be perfect. Life’s messy, and that’s okay! My 5yo and I got into a small flour fight the other day making cookies. I made sure he helped me clean up, but that was part of the fun. Enjoy life; it’s gone too fast!

      Like

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