Pulled to pieces

It’s days like these that make me realize how dependent I’ve become on having the Webmaster home all the time.

He will be starting his new job on Sept. 18th, but we thought he’d be starting this week. But once he got a hold of the hiring manager at said-new job, they will not be prepared for him to show up until the 18th. This is a bummer for him, because he was excited to get started, and now he has to hurry up and wait. So he borrowed the pressure-washer from my parents and cleaned off our back deck. He just finished re-sealing it yesterday (just in time for the upcoming Seattle autumn). Next, I’m going to put him to work weeding out my flowerbeds in front and edging them nicely, so I can re-plant all new bulbs for next spring. I’ve got to keep him busy, now that he’s not spending all his time on the phone or on the Internet trying to find a new job.

But having him home has just been so gosh darn convienent. There’s someone to keep Tad out of trouble while I take the Munchkin to the bathroom. If Tad starts to fall asleep over lunch, one of us can clean him up and put him down for a nap while the other parent makes sure the Munchkin eats her lunch and doesn’t spill her milk. When the kids get up in the morning, he usually takes them and starts them on breakfast while I sneak in a little more sleep.

In short, it’s been like having an extra pair of hands. And when the kids are going crazy, that’s a valuable thing to have when you want to keep your sanity. I don’t know how single parents can handle more than one kid.

I remember when the Munchkin was born how easy it was to simply make my schedule fit hers. When she napped, I napped. When she was hungry, I fed her, and then she would be happy enough to let me get things done. As she got older, we fell into an easy routine. I planned our days around her naptime, so she would get her rest and be happy during the evening. We played and sang together, and she had my full attention.

When I discovered I was pregnant with Tad, I knew that those days were going to come to a very fast end. And when the day came, and I went into labor, I had to fight every impulse I had to go into the Munchkin’s bedroom and hug her tightly and apologize (it was 5 am and I didn’t want to wake her up) for what was coming that was going to turn her life upside down.

I knew that in the long run, she would value her little brother. And I know that she loves him very much even now. But nothing was going to change the hard fact that our world no longer revolved around her needs.

While that is a good thing for a child to learn, it’s a hard thing for a mommy to adapt to. When Tad came home, there were two diametrically opposed schedules in our house, and I was caught in the middle. The Webmaster was home for the first couple of weeks, and I had other help as well, but there was no more napping with the baby – because the Munchkin might be awake. There were even more things to do, because there were two kids that had different needs. Little Tad was a very content baby, but when he wanted to eat, I had to drop everything that I was doing to feed him, and that didn’t go over very well with the Munchkin, who had her own agenda. And if her Daddy wasn’t home to help her out, where did that leave Mommy? Pulled between two children who both needed me for real and legitimate reasons.

Usually, things worked out quickly, but there were some hard first days, and the odd hour still comes up when I have two kids demanding equal and individual time from me, and it just can’t happen. And somewhere in all of this, I need to take care of myself! Right now, I can’t even close the bathroom door for a little privacy before one of the kids discovers where I’ve gone. If Tad finds me, he just starts to bang on the door and cry. If the Munchkin finds me, she flings the door open, saying, “Mommy, this door stays open!” (We have told her that, because we’ve caught her in there with the door shut unrolling toliet paper.)

While I wouldn’t change anything now, I do wish that we had put more space between the Munchkin and Tad. They are only 19 months apart in age, and while the whole experience left me feeling like I could probably bring the Middle East conflict to a close if I could handle both of them and not fall apart, there were some very dark days in there. And the only thing that kept me going sometimes is that I knew that my backup was on his way home. Or if things got really really bad, I could put out an SOS and have a willing Grandma take on a grandchild for a little bit. But when the Webmaster got home each day, I could breathe a little easier. Now there were two of us matched up with the two of them. As a team, we could handle it.

Someday, baby #3 will probably come along, God willing. But by then, the Munchkin will be quite a bit older than she was the first time we brought a sibling home for her, and it will be a whole new experience. As kids grow, there is still a need for Mommy, but it’s more psychological than physical. Someday (hopefully soon), I will not have to take her to the bathroom. She will be able to dress herself without getting frustrated or putting on a shirt backwards. And before I know it, Tad will be doing the exact same things. But I still won’t want to do this Mommy job without knowing that Daddy is coming home to play backup each night.

One Response to “Pulled to pieces”

  1. DozeyMagz
    September 8th, 2006 07:55

    I think we are in exactly the same place. Mophead and Dustbunny are also 19 months apart. In a lot of ways, it’s nice because Mophead doesn’t remember a time when she was the only little one around and is so happy growing up with Dustbunny. It is hard though, when they both need you. You’re doing a great job and no matter how hard it gets and how difficult things are sometimes , Munchkin and Tad will only remember that you (and Daddy) are always there for them.