Thursday, March 27, 2014

These Days by Rachel Nemhauser

In case I haven’t yet been clear, being Nate’s mom can be really, really hard sometimes.  He can make a leisurely, sunshine-filled Sunday afternoon feel endless and burdensome, and turn a trip to the grocery store into an exercise in patience and humility. He can turn a casual family dinner into a tornado and a car ride into chaos.  He’s exceptionally skilled at finding the one thing in any room you really don’t want him to touch, and he’s almost impossible to redirect. He’s messy, and his style of mess often leads to permanent damage, like non-commissioned Sharpie wall-art or cracked plumbing.  He’s smart, he’s a troublemaker, and he’s had 8 years of occupational therapy.  Don’t underestimate that combination!

Please be assured I love Nate powerfully and wholly. I love him so much that his laugh can still give me goose bumps and his profile sometimes gets me choked up.  I love his mischief, I love his way of talking, I love his snuggles and I love his red hair.  I love him so much that, even when he’s being his most annoying, I still love him.  Most of the time my love for him completely dwarfs the other stuff.
But this is not about the times my love dwarfs the other stuff.  This is about when the other stuff wins.  About the times when Nate makes a leisurely Sunday impossible. When he has just clogged a toilet with an entire roll of toilet paper, and spilled milk on his bed and sprayed sunscreen on the windows and hit his brother and locked the cat in the bedroom and managed to get the child-proof cap off the gummy vitamins and it’s not even 9 a.m. yet. I’m talking about those days. 
The days where it isn’t cute and funny anymore. The days where Isaac really needs help with his math homework but I can’t take my eyes off of Nate for 5 minutes. The days where he talks without stopping for an entire car ride about Scooby Doo and zombies and setting traps, and starts screeching if anyone tries to talk about something else.  The days where he screams loudly, publically and often or overflows the bathtub after dumping an entire bottle of shampoo in the water.
These are the days I wonder if we’re doing it all wrong.  If we’re pushing him hard enough. If our approach is not working. These are the days I can spiral into a sea of second guessing and self-doubt.  The days my heart hurts for Isaac, and I see, clear-eyed and certain, that our family has it harder than other families and it’s really not fair. The days when I feel sad, worn out and at the end of my rope. The days when Nate’s bedtime hangs like a lush green mirage in the ever-distant future, sure to bring abbreviated bedtime stories and only the briefest of snuggles once it finally arrives.
As Nate’s mom there is no avoiding these days. Rather, I make sure I have a plan for when they come. I have other moms to talk to, moms who have had these days and can assure me my family isn’t the only one.  I have loved ones to talk and laugh with, ample opportunities to get away for a while, a dog who loves to take long walks with me, and breathing techniques for when I’m about to throw something through a window. It’s a delicate balance that works for me. 
I know I’m not the only one who has days (or weeks or months) like this, and I know that knowing that helps a lot.  Please share your experiences, and what works for you on those days. I’d love to hear from you!