Have you ever read that book? It was assigned in one of my college courses. I vaguely remember the novel, but the title really stuck with me, and it feels like it defines my life lately.
Let me clarify: I have a wonderful, loving husband and three beautiful, reasonably-healthy children. I have a house. My husband has a job, and we can afford all we need. We have family with whom we have pretty good relationships. We are blessed beyond measure.
That said, it feels like life is falling apart lately. For eight weeks now, Ender has slept poorly. And I’m not talking up-two-or-three-times-a-night bad, I’m talking four times on an extremely good night, generally six or more wakings a night. (The other night he needed intervention ten times in eleven hours.) And after the third one, he can’t be put down without waking again. I can’t work on projects in the evenings because he wakes so frequently and settles far better for me than for my husband. So I can’t clean or work at night except in rare circumstances. He used to at least be pleasant during the day, but for the past two weeks he spends a majority of the day fussing. If he’s not crying for me to hold him, he’s messing up his siblings’ toys; neither is endearing him to them. The last two nights he’s slept a bit better, but he’s only taken two half-hour naps during the day, maximizing the time the rest of us have to endure his fussing.
Peatie has responded by whining incessantly. That’s annoying but handleable. Goober is worse. She whines, too, but she also bursts into screaming fits at the slightest provocation, and sometimes for no apparent reason. She gets her feelings hurt and goes limp and curls into a ball at the littlest perceived slight. And she pesters her older brother mercilessly, taking his toys and running when he’s playing happily, pulling his hair just for spite, throwing fits if he doesn’t want to play exactly the way she wants to. Both of them need lots of attention. During Ender’s naps, I sit with them and read books or bake brownies or build train tracks. And my cleaning doesn’t get done. And my laundry doesn’t get done. And it’s still not enough.
All three of them need lots of attention. I need more arms, more patience, more sleep.
I have two very part-time jobs and I am secretary of the local MOMS Club. I can’t do the work for them during the day because my kids need me. At night, I can work if ‘Love is “on”–but then I have no time for unwinding. Neither of us ever really has time for unwinding.
‘Love started a new job at the beginning of September. It was supposed to be a great advancement opportunity, more in line with his interests, not a lot more money but a lot closer to home. It has ended up being a living hell, as there is someone at work who passive-agressively makes it difficult for him (and his subordinate) to get his job done. There’s nothing firm to show to HR, just a lot of, “Oh, you wanted THAT report? I thought you had asked for THIS one,” or, “Did you get permission to access that information? I’m afraid I’ll need to get a note from your superior for that. Not that I’M concerned about you, but I just need to cover myself, you know.” So on a daily basis, ‘Love is uber-stressed about work. Meaning I am stressed right along with him. Meaning we, being stressed about family life and work life, are cranky with each other.
Right now, it feels as if all of life is unhappy and stressful, as if our family and our financial security and potentially our health are being jeopardized. Certainly our mental health is not great right now. I’m hanging on because the kids need me too much for me to fall apart. Last time ‘Love got too stressed for too long, he ended up hospitalized with heart palpitations. I’m hoping we don’t get to that point.
I can’t even imagine how folks deal with this sort of stress chronically. I just keep telling myself it can’t last forever. Right? I’m right, right?
Okay, complaint session over. Someday, it WILL be better.