Lately I've been feeling especially cheated by those things people say when you're pregnant and looking forward to a life full of something new. Two boys, say, or a boy instead of a girl, or a third child. "Boys are easier than girls," they say, warning of the drama and social angst of the pre-teen. And, "the adjustment to your third child is far easier than the adjustment to your second."
I seem to have gotten none of the "easy." In fact, life has been so hard that I have not had time for my one coping mechanism -- writing about it. I have written this post every hour for the past four weeks, starting it dozens of times, feeling it bang around in my sleep-deprived brain trying to get out until it lodged itself in the base of my neck, aching, and tried to ooze out my pores or dribble down the small of my back. Not writing it sent fat tears flowing down my cheeks, which I sometimes tried to hide by taking refuge for a moment in the bedroom and sometimes couldn't hide at all.
And that certainly didn't make things any easier.
I want to write about what is so hard. I want to describe the minute detail of hardness. The moment where I'm trying to wash dishes, because the kitchen is dirty because Jonathan is working/doing Army training/sleeping/not feeling helpful, and Truman comes in jumping in the funny sweet way he does, stepping on my toes and grunting and pulling on me and wanting milk, and Everett asks me to "just do this ONE thing for me, and then I won't ask another THING", or he doesn't and he screams that I am killing him, or he pretends to be silly with his brother when he's really pummeling him, or he brings in Monroe to me because he just picked him up and made him cry and now he's CRYING, and then Truman is up on the stool washing dishes with me, only he's spilling water on the floor and it's getting dirtier and I just cleaned it, or I didn't at all and I can't stand it to get a bit dirtier, it will destroy me, and Monroe is screaming and I haven't eaten anything in hours and I'm so sleep-deprived I want to cry and sometimes I do cry, or yell at the kids, or slam the bottle down on the counter and put Monroe back in his crib, crying, and try to regain my sanity.
And so I don't know. Have I described it? Do you know now? It is truly beyond every challenge I ever imagined as a parent, this family, this group of children, my husband, my own lack of patience and quick temper. I am not coping well. There is no grace, here. I have no mantra, I can find no quiet place in my mind, no peace, no breath. I could not even write this post, until now, weeks after I needed it.
I would not change anything, would not go back and find a different husband, would not choose to have children further apart or more feminine or any way other than what they are. I love them all, every inch and eyelash and drama and head-bonk. But oh lord, they are not easy.
It is Everett with his intensity, his explosiveness and anger (hello my own worst character traits, how are you doing today?), his social struggles. It is Truman with his happy stubbornness, his inexplicable lack of speech (still, at 28 months, he's saying "buh" for bird and "dah!" for daddy and he doesn't even say mom), his unstoppable zest for life that so often turns into mess, mess everywhere. It is Monroe, who is not at all a hard baby but is nonetheless a baby whose needs are constantly need-ing and who cries and slurps and spits up and poops and must be held at the most inconvenient times. It is all of them, with their mixed-up schedules and their tendencies to come into my bed at night and kick me, pee on me, cry at me, touch me in their strong clumsy sweet boy way. It is Jonathan, who doesn't seem able to figure out how to support me in the occasional necessary good cry.
The thing that I hold on to, the ultimate fix for this all, is-maybe-could-be this schedule-rhythm thing I'm trying. But the boys are fighting, long and hard, and while I want to say tonight is a win still, still.
I know that I will get through, that my hard pales in comparison to so many other hards, that these first few months are the struggliest of all, that even right now I am healing something. But I never imagined this hardness and I will never know how I survived September 2007. When you have given everything you had and then someone you love asks you for another give, how do you say "no"? You don't, you give again, and you cry and hope that there will be a water break soon and that, someday, the kitchen counter will be clean enough to make your own birthday cake, God help me.