finding happy

10.01.2014

It's night, quiet and still in my apartment. The kids went to sleep early without a fight and I'm sitting alone on my couch in the dim light, legs curled under me and searching for words that are rusty from lack of use. It's clean and still here. The carpet freshly vacuumed, my amber and black orchid candle from Target is flickering on the shelf, making shadows on the wall. No dishes in the sink, the kitchen floor is mopped. Apples we picked last weekend are piled up in the middle of the kitchen table, just waiting for someone to bump into them so they can topple over and get bruised. My husband is gone, and coincidentally the smell of pumpkin bread is floating out into the living room. Late grad school husbandless nights are dangerous for me and my ever growing postpartum gut. I can hear crickets chirping and frogs ribbeting, the light that buzzes in the kitchen and the quiet sounds of my kids sleeping. Their rooms are picked up, my bed is made and everything is completely clean. Finally, the chaos of bedtime nodded off with the setting sun. I live for this time. My house will stay this clean for approximately 12 hours, at which time tomorrow will start and I'll lose the motivation that this day gave me. I clean best when I'm pissed off.


     

Today I woke up in a really really horrible mood. To borrow the expression, I knew today was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Because you know in that newborn stage when the night was looooooong and the lack of sleep is quite literally killing you, and you wake up with your body screaming in resistance, begging for just one more tiny hour of sleep, no matter how restless. But your husband goes to school at the break of dawn, and your toddler wakes up extra early and extra whiney and your baby decides he won't sleep at all unless you bring him into your bed and pat him in 5 minute increments, insuring your wakefulness and his peaceful slumber, and then when said baby is finally sleeping, your cranky toddler comes in yelling that she's hungry, effectively waking the baby and causing you to snap, cue the tantrums and a time out that was probably too long for the crime is was meant for (and it's only 7 AM).

     

 I credit this terrible night to my one time indulgence in like 3 (ok maybe 7) bites of this really amazing ice cream that my dairy-free diet just couldn't resist, and to the fact that I stayed up reading a good book until way past my bed time. There's just not enough time in the day.


All of this converges on the fact that I just don't have time for myself anymore. Newborn-ness is hard.  Hell, being a parent is hard. By the time you get kids in bed, you have a small window of opportunity to do what you want....and looming over that want is the hugely piled sink of dirty dishes that are probably housing a cockroach they've been there so long. Or the toppling tower of partially clean clothes in the corner of your room, or maybe it's the million dirty diapers sprinkled throughout the apartment, reminding you that your day(s) really were too busy to even pick up a diaper and throw it in the trash two feet away. Nights like this happen once in a blue moon for me. I cherish quiet nights alone, with a fresh house, a fresh slate for tomorrow and an early bedtime (after I eat that loaf of pumpkin bread that's baking....still).


Now, today is just one of those days that we all inevitably have, being a parent or not. We all have those who-peed-in-your-cheerios, woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed, terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-days, sometimes for no apparent reason except that the universe wants to hate on us that day. It's no surprise, and complaining about them is my specialty.


Today, after I flipped out on my daughter and sent her crying to her room for an undetermined amount of time and after I kinda sorta glared at my 2 month old as he gurgly smiled at me, I sat at the breakfast table, groggy and pissed off, wondering how the hell I was going to get through this day. I realized at that moment as Viv spilled her oatmeal everywhere but her mouth that I had two choices:

1. Be pissed off and have a really terrible day and equally long day
2. Choose to be happy

So let me let you in on a little secret. I'm a pessimist. I don't choose to be happy. I feel all the feelings, and as stupid as it sounds, I like to feel angry and pissed sometimes. I choose to complain. I choose to be mad. I choose to feel the bad days and I take them at face value. I don't remember choosing to be happy on a day that I woke up mad.

Today, I did.


I see this is a shift in my personality. Life is so much harder when you choose to have a bad day, especially with kids (duh).  As a mom, you set the tone for the day. I realized that I could either be like Rapunzel's mom in Tangled (Viv and I call her the "mean mommy" at our house), or I could grin and bear it. So I did. I took Viv's face in my two hands, asked her to forgive me for yelling at her, and told her that I would be happy today if she would be happy today. "K mommy" she said, and continued spilling oatmeal into her mouth.


And that's what we did. We cleaned the house together, painted pictures, changed diapers, walked to school, and cleaned some more. We played outside, watched part of a movie, and when bedtime came, it came early. I got through this day with a smile partially plastered on my face and a fatigue headache settled somewhere around my eyes. As a result of this fake-it-till-you-make-it mentality, today was salvaged and productive and exhausting. A lot of really great things happened, including Viv exploding with a correct B sound on all of the words we've been working on, and some she just did on her own out of the blue. I cheered like a crazy person, she grinned the biggest grin I've ever seen, and we did a celebratory dance. We (she) ate ice cream with sprinkles after dinner.

Today was a good day. And I'm not saying I will always choose to be happy on days that the universe hates me....but at least I can remember today and think of it fondly as that one time I wasn't pessimistic. Maybe it will catch on.


Maybe next time I'll say,

Screw it, I'm sure as hell gonna be happy today and dammit I'm gonna like it.
(throwing x amount of swear words into a sentence helps too)

These beautiful pictures were taken while we were still in California and Merrill was only 3 weeks old. Done by my beautiful friend Ashley who is so very talented at everything she does. Thanks girl.

9 comments:

  1. Wow! That was AMAZING! You are an INCREDIBLE writer! This could be published, really, so beautiful, so insightful, so relatable and uplifting. Good for for choosing to be happy and thank you so much for this wonderful reminder, I really needed it, this post hit home. Thanks!

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  2. Elyse- That was so beautifully written! You are amazing and such a great mom! You're words described what most of my days are like. One of my favorite sayings is, "be the mom you want them to remember", it helps me a lot on those awful and rotten days when it is hard to choose to be happy. And I am with you on the dairy-free... my little boy is so sensitive to anything dairy, it's awful.

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  3. Ok, this is amazing. After a week, scratch that month, of some rough days, I'm going to take your advice today. You're such a great mama! xoxo

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  4. I so needed to read this tonight. Thank you!

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  5. Good post. And I hear ya....
    Also... I can't get enough of your little boy. He is seriously somethin else. So dang cute.

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    Replies
    1. Also I love the new blog design. Did you do it yourself?

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    2. I did! Just wrote it out in pic monkey...I'm no photoshop expert ;)

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  6. You don't know me but, I have followed your blog every since I read your post about post partum depression with your first little one. I had terrible depression for about a year after my daughter was born. This post gives me hope that the second one might be different. You are such a beautiful writer. Thanks for being so honest about your life! Keep up the good work! And... those rolls.! he is so stinking cute!

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  7. Love this (of course). Miss you lots (insert blowing kiss emoji)

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