Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Enjoy The Rough Times" -- A Mommy's Mantra

During one particularly rough night when Ryan was two weeks old, I had a major meltdown. I angrily kicked the tower of poopy diapers collecting by my bed and shouted "shut-up!" to the screaming newborn who was waking me every 1.5 hours. It was definitely my mommy-low. As soon as he was fed, he drifted to sleep. I watched his purple-tinted eyelids fall and flutter softly, like darkness over a harbor of swaying ships. While he slept, his innocence struck me. I was suddenly ashamed of my prior outburst. When I woke up groggy, hours later (probably just 1.5 hours later!), I was still feeling sad about my earlier shouting match with the screaming baby.

It hit me that I was up against many, many more nights JUST like the one I just had. I decided right then to change my outlook on Ryan's babyhood. I didn't want to waste Ryan's one and only year of babyhood being angry or floundering around in frustration. Whenever things got rough, I was going to remind myself that SOMEDAY I will give anything to be right where I am. Since that moment, my mantra has become, "enjoy it, even the hard times."

Today, I had to repeat this mantra MANY TIMES....

The day started out innocently enough. I awoke to Ryan cooing sweetly from his spot beside me in bed. I smiled to myself, eyes still closed, and tried to drift back to sleep. Suddenly, "Twack! Twack! Twack!" I felt a tiny fist socking me in the nose with quick, jerky spasms. I kept trying to dodge Ryan's baby fist-punches but there's not really anywhere to go in a double bed hosting 2.5 occupants. Ugh! "Enjoy the rough times, enjoy the rough times," I whispered groggily as I picked up Ryan and walked to the living room, leaving my hope for sleep far behind me, on those soft, warm, flannel sheets of my bed.

Walking out to the living room, I realized that my back was still aching from when I threw it out days earlier. Slowly and awkwardly, I put Ryan in his bouncer chair while I set out to make some toast. The second I put him down, he emitted a shrill cry. Ugh. I was starving. I tried to ignore his cries for a minute or two. Suddenly, however, his cries turned into to screams, little beacons of despair and horror ("My mommy is ignoring me! My mommy is ignoring me!") stabbed through the air to my eardrums.

I picked Ryan up and tried to make my breakfast with one hand. If someone had entered the kitchen at that precise moment, they would have seen the counter littered with dirty silverware, an opened jelly jar, a loaf of bread leaning out of its packaging like mischevious wheaty dominos, me in my discheveled pajamas holding a screaming baby in one hand, and the other hand, dripping with chunks of raspberry preserves, quickly cramming an entire piece of toasted bread into my mouth.

Long gone are the mornings of sitting down at a table with a breakfast-spread rolled out before me like red carpet, sipping tea and catching up on the news on my laptop while I tried to decide if my greasy hair was bad enough that I had to take a shower. If I had only known back then that hot, uninterrupted showers would someday be as valuable as gold- I would have taken them more often.

Between exasperated sighs, I chanted, "Enjoy the rough times, enjoy the rough times...."

Ryan kept crying so I knew that he must have been tired. With sticky, raspberry hands, I rocked him back and forth. He turned his face into the crook of my elbow, the "tell" that sleepy-time was near. Thank goodness because with each sway, it felt as if someone was stabbing me in the sciatic nerve. His eyes drooped and he was finally out. I hunched down and gingerly placed him in his baby swing. I turned it on and rejoiced. "YES! Freedom!"

I walked away from the swing and he began to stir. Like a gambler waiting for his dice to land, I leaned over the stirring baby. Breath-held and wide-eyed in suspense, I prayed with everything in my being that he would quickly drift back to sleep. Then, like a waking Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of his eyes popped open so suddenly, that I SWORE I could hear his eyelid snap.

"NO!!! PLEASE, NO!" I screamed to myself.

Too late, he was awake. When he realized that I was just standing there, NOT bounding forward to pick his highness up, Ryan's bottom lip quivered. His chin wrinkled like a blue eggfoam roll, and he began to scream once again.

"Enjoy the rough times. ENJOY the ROUGH times!" I muttered through a clenched jaw.

I rocked Ryan again. He fell asleep. I put him down. He screamed. Over. And Over. And Over. This little song and dance played out five times. Finally after the fifth time and three herniated discs later, he had fallen asleep for good.


And then...."Good morning Mommy!" I heard a sweet, enthusiastic voice say.

I turned around and saw Jacob behind me, sopping wet from the waist down. One smell told all- pee. And I'm not sure what troubled me more- the load of pee-drenched laundry that was in my imminent future or the fact that Jacob's sing-songy "good morning" caused Tyrannosaurus-Ryan's eyes to pop open yet again.

I took a deep breath. I told myself to let it go. To take it all in, the good and the bad. "Enjoy....the rough...times!" I said, almost convincingly.

Because experience had taught me that this:

Eventually becomes this:

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